Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Energy Management Business Tools: Risk, Time, and Money

Over time, I've learned to introduce energy management as some mix of three resources: risk, time, and money. You can minimize the use of any two of those three, but it will be at the expense of the third. For example:

Minimize your investment of time and money. This means you assume greater risk by simply not dealing with the root causes of energy waste and volatile energy prices. It means doing little, cheap, one-time projects, and switching fuels or fuel suppliers. In other words, by doing as little proactive energy management on your part as possible, you remain at the mercy of market forces external to your organization.

Minimize your risk and investment of time. You can do this primarily by pursuing big, capital projects (assuming that new equipment can do the work so people don't have to). But of course, the big project approach takes big money.

Minimize your risk and investment of money. You can do this if you are prepared to invest a lot of time. If for some reason the budget won't support the purchase of new, more efficient equipment, then you need to focus on the way people use and maintain current equipment. In short, this approach requires culture change. Be prepared to spend a lot of time boosting staff awareness of the energy cost consequences of their daily work habits. Be prepared to encounter resistance ("That's the way we've always done it.") You'll need to persuade and influence people, fostering and promoting success stories whenever they can be cultivated.

Risk, time, and money-- you can optimize two out of three. I offer no scientific proof to back up this concept, but simply ask you to accept it as a truth that is self-evident.



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