Author: Kevin Greenhorn, Managing Director of SSE Enterprise Energy Solutions
It’s an exciting time for businesses and for the energy market. There’s a momentum of change happening across businesses of all sizes and it’s fascinating to watch. The conversation is that energy should no longer be seen as just an outgoing cost; it’s an asset and opportunity. The direction of opinion seems to be that forward-thinking businesses increasingly understand that energy is a revenue generating asset that benefits the whole organisation – both in how it functions and how it is perceived. At SSE, we strongly believe in this too.
The speed of change
Over the last few years we’ve seen a gradual shift in the perception of sustainability - from a niche department to a core part of developing a commercial advantage. As Ernst and Young put it “We have witnessed the sustainability function within organisations evolve from a peripheral to a strategic function that is intertwined with the corporate decision making process.”
It’s perhaps surprising that this evolution hasn’t come sooner given that energy is often one of a company’s biggest outgoings. And it’s growing bigger by the day. Harvard Business Review observes, ‘It’s often a rude awakening to C-suite executives that their firms can’t easily say how much energy they use at either the enterprise level or the level of individual plants or activities. Energy is among the biggest cost areas for companies—along with people, product costs, facilities, and equipment—but it’s the only one that is not monitored and managed carefully.’
There are of course obvious reasons for energy optimisation and the significant cost savings it can achieve. But it also goes far beyond this. Energy optimisation allows firms to deal with growing environmental, governmental and consumer pressure to reduce their emissions.
With regard to consumers, a Unilever study shows a third of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact. And across the board we’re seeing UK consumers turning to ‘smarter’ power in the form of SMART meter adoption and energy saving devices in the home / mobile. They’re also switching energy suppliers and have new governmental regulations coming in to back them up in 2018.
The importance of the workplace
Governments, consumers and the CFO’s wanting to save money are just the start of the argument though. At the same time as reducing their costs and improving their performance, a business’s new awareness and control of energy allows them to improve the well-being and comfort of staff within the built environment. And this isn’t just a ‘nice to have’. The work environment is often a defining point in potential recruits decision-making process. A Leesman’s study of Landsec employees points out that over 90% of employees feel the workplace environment has a positive effect on the culture. And, in a world of increasing homogeneity, every advantage a company can have to gain the best people counts.
The demand for greener buildings
The growing appetite for this can be seen in some of the latest building trends. Certified greener buildings are in demand when they combine improved architectural design with lower energy use and greatly reduced emissions. This fosters better health and wellness outcomes, ultimately leading to improvements in employee productivity, engagement and retention.
Why you should consider it seriously
Energy optimisation is a way to develop a sustainable business with a competitive advantage.
This comes through:
- energy use reduction
- lower costs acquired through smarter buying and usage
- improved brand perception thanks to green credentials and a demonstration that you care about your customers
- increased output and performance; comfortable staff and customers have a stronger sense of well-being due to improved environments
The benefits we’ve listed are just the start, but they can be broken into two sections; tangible and intangible. The tangible benefits can obviously be measured and reported numerically and monetarily. These also include lower machine downtime, longer machine lifecycles and reduced running costs.
The list of intangible benefits includes shareholder value, improved wellbeing and stronger reputation. And while these can be harder to measure, there is a data trail and a real value in being a demonstrably sustainable business and this can be used as a differentiator and ultimately a value add to the brand equity.
It doesn’t take much research to know that ultimately business success is about satisfied customers. They might be end users, your staff, shoppers in retail environments, university students, patients and nursing staff in hospitals. Everything you can do to move that experience towards perfection is worth doing, particularly if it can save you money while doing it. Energy optimisation is a cost effective way to ensure everyone who comes into your offices and customer spaces feels perfectly comfortable.
As with many of the world’s big issues, people often cross their fingers and wait for scientific breakthroughs. In energy they are coming thick and fast in all directions. At one end there’s EVs, battery storage, and more efficient renewables being developed 24/7. At the other end there’s sustainable energy sourcing. And, overarching both, there’s data capture and environment analytics. All of this is hard to implement. That’s why our energy optimisation division has been specifically developed.
SSE Enterprise Energy Solutions exists to offer forward-looking businesses not just technology, but the people, expertise and service to help you take advantage of the possibilities and turn energy into a sustainable resource for good. It is, of course, possible to look at optimising without any outside help - and many firms are. But, in the words of Harvard Business Review 2017, ‘they are proceeding without a playbook. To be sure, some solid frameworks for energy management exist, but they are not integrated with overall strategy”. We’re here to steer you through complex regulations, fluctuations in energy costs and NCC’s.
Whatever your sector or size, we have the experience and the scale to handle anything. We have national coverage and the ability to service multiples of any size across sectors from retail, to schools, manufacturing, hospitals and much more.
Our diverse team of engineers, analysts and business and product experts, work with you to ensure we visualise your consumption and identify opportunities for savings. And of course, we’re technology agnostic, and can connect to a broad range of systems and equipment.
The next steps to using energy as a value-generator
Add together all the benefits and the scale of the advantage it can bring, and energy optimisation has the power to transform a business.
If you’d like to discover more about how energy can be an asset and not a cost, contact us today. We can help you think strategically about optimisation and how it can help you put your people and customers first, and put you on the path to true sustainability.