15 Nov 2022
By Andrew Hejnar
With the rise of climate-related disasters at our front door, we Canadians clearly see the impact of climate change. The time to act is now. Canadian organizations have a responsibility to lead the charge in changing the country’s course towards a greener future.
Beyond COVID-19, the top issues Canadians want science to solve are centered around environmental sustainability, especially the impact of climate change. Despite headways made to protect Canada’s environment, more work needs to be done, according to the Fraser Institute’s Environmental Ranking for Canada and the OECD. Although Canada placed 12thoverall in environmental performance across 33 high-income countries, Canada ranks 31st and 21st, respectively, for its carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per unit of GDP), and its ability to reduce its carbon intensity over a decade.
Similarly, a ranking of 50 global cities revealed that, despite Canada’s overall “B” grade, Canada holds a “C “in consumption-based climate emissions. It’s clear that Canadian organizations can no longer sit on the side lines – they must embrace the opportunity to take real steps in addressing Canada’s energy consumption.
In light of this, Canadian organizations need an internationally recognized framework, such as ISO 50001, to help organizations establish, implement, and maintain Energy Management Systems (EnMS) that deeply ingrain systematic improvement of energy performance on a sustained basis.
Energy management begins with effectively tracking energy usage
For any program to be successful, Canadian organizations must understand how and where energy is being used within their facilities. This can be accomplished through energy management information systems (EMIS) such as energy usage meters, and software specifically designed to monitor energy consumption.
It’s critical to get measurement right the first time, and to build a robust system that suits your organization’s needs. Early investment in EMIS can help the transition to a formal energy management system (EnMS). With an effective EMIS, your organization can quickly identify opportunities for improvement. For example, let’s take a weekend snapshot of energy usage. What does the data say about energy consumption during periods where no activity or production is occurring? Are there opportunities to turn off or ramp down systems in response to this?
Measuring key business savings to energy efficiency will be critical to senior management committing to and championing new energy management programs. This will help make energy “visible” through daily reports and actionable data. The value of an organization’s energy usage data cannot be understated. A robust energy baseline will identify opportunities for improvement, and clearly demonstrate reduced energy consumption.
Leverage the latest technology and energy saving solutions
Targeting your organizations energy efficiency opens the doors to achieving wider sustainability goals. Efforts in this space always lead to emission reductions in other areas. Every single step taken to improve your organization’s energy efficiency is extremely valuable. Small, but significant steps that are thought out, well-implemented, and continuously managed, are the key to a successful energy saving strategy.
Examples of small but effective changes begin with your facility’s existing infrastructure, including:
- What lights are currently is use in your facility?
- Lighting retrofits such as LED lights, occupancy sensors, energy-efficient lightbulbs, and natural lighting systems are just some of the ways your organization can see a 30 percent decrease in energy consumed by lighting systems.
- Other energy management projects include drying processes, optimization, HVAC heat recovery, compressor air leak reduction, and chilled water system improvements.
- All these projects culminate into significant energy savings.
Commitment across all levels of an organization is critical to long-term success
Commitment from your frontline workforce - all the way from entry level employees, though senior management - is essential to not only reaching energy management goals, but identifying new ways to use energy efficiently. Be aware that your frontline workers often notice things that senior leadership may not.
Leveraging their knowledge can have a positive impact on energy consumption. Are there more efficient ways to accomplish an action? Are there machines that can be turned off when not in use? Can you reduce the capacity of certain machines to reduce energy?
Senior management must commit the appropriate resources and responsibilities to implement an effective EnMS. Consider commissioning an energy team to strategically target and implement energy management initiatives. The role of staff in project implementation must be clearly outlined, with clear deliverables and milestones that ladder up to the organization’s energy management strategy. Successes must be championed by senior leadership to inspire frontline workers.
Improving energy efficiency can be achieved with well-executed energy management systems. Structured EnMS, such as ISO 50001, provide the necessary framework to make energy more visible, engage your workforce, and collaborate with your communities. Canadian organizations must think about their mission statement, and how they can tie energy and climate into what they do. If your company mission captures this, you’ll be able to come up with effective policies – and execute them.
Andrew Hejnar is 3M’s Energy Manager, with more than 20 years of experience in leading sustainability initiatives. Andrew was named an Energy Manager of the Year by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), and is a Fellow Grade Member of AEE.
3M Canada | www.3mcanada.ca