Businesses are Finding Better Returns Through Energy Management


A focus on sustainable energy practices is more than an environmental concern, it is a matter of smart management. Harvard Business School professors Michael Porter and Forest Reinhardt teach the importance of making energy management part of your business strategy. They believe the management level focus on energy consumption is a long term competitive advantage for businesses.

Efficient operation is an important part of any business strategy, but companies have not always made smart energy management a part of their business plans. “Revisiting your many systems–design, production, delivery–will yield internal cost reductions,” says Reinhardt.

Although energy may not be the largest line item cost for many businesses, it is a cost that can be monitored and controlled. As demand for energy increases, the price of energy also increases placing greater burdens on the energy grid and, ultimately, on the consumer. Investment in more efficient buildings and systems can shield businesses from fluctuating costs–increasing the bottom line over the long term.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly $38 billion is spent annually on lighting in commercial buildings–accounting for the largest source of electricity consumption in the business sector. To minimize energy costs, many companies are looking for help from consultants and recent advances in technology. For example, replacing motion sensors with new Smart Sensors, designed to detect human presence more accurately, can reduce lighting related expenses. Advanced metering systems can be used to record energy usage, as expected, but track the data to provide analytical information about changes in usage patterns. This type of data management can help businesses evaluate changes as they are implemented.

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One Birmingham company, Sain Engineering Associates, Inc (SEA), has devoted itself to helping other businesses potentially save millions of dollars over the long term by properly managing energy resources. SEA, which consults in the public and private sector, has developed a building efficiency intelligence platform called Sain Technical Analysis Reporting (STAR). STAR combines data management with energy audits in a standardized, automated platform which can benefit clients by helping them understand how they are using energy.

“Whether you’re thinking of a commercial office in downtown Birmingham or an aerospace manufacturing facility in Huntsville,” says SEA engineer Patrick Spencer, “(the STAR platform) will not only save the owner money on their utilities, but realize less impact on the environment.”

Businesses, whether seeking to expand or simply become more energy efficient, are seeing the importance of making energy resource management a part of their comprehensive business strategy or growth plans. Ultimately, a focus on sustainable energy management helps the company save money which can then be allocated to other areas of operation.

Energy management is a development tool for businesses that encourages strategic thinking in all aspects of operation. The resulting financial impact can also create more incentives and better returns for investors–translating the initial investment in energy management into a long term competitive advantage.