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Addressing Energy Sustainability for Organizations and in Homes

Becoming socially and ecologically conscious in business is the way of the future. Promoting responsible energy and resource consumption by implementing clean energy practices can make businesses stand out amongst competitors. Tracking and limiting use can be difficult, but companies who implement practices and tools to improve their habits will lead the way in energy accountability.
People Impacted
$ 18B
Potential Funding
I have this challenge
the problem
Symptoms and Causes

Big Users of Energy

Here’s a fact that might surprise you. About 20% of all the energy we use in the U.S. goes to power commercial buildings. Buildings like the offices and schools we use every day. So you can easily see how much energy—and money—we can save when our buildings are as energy efficient as possible (OEERE).

Big Producers of Emissions

Buildings account for a quarter of all carbon emissions in Oregon and Washington, with building pollution growing at a faster rate than any other source of carbon emissions in the states. The transition to clean buildings is done by mapping ways communities can move from harmful pollutants, in this case, fracked gas, within the built environment (Climate Solutions).

Tech and Reporting Haven't Caught Up

There are several key issues regarding environmental sustainability in organizations: Tracking, analysis and reporting of energy and resource consumption is still mostly based on spreadsheets, leading to operational inefficiencies and missed opportunities. There are no publicly accessible databases of savings measures with detailed performance data for different types of buildings and use cases. Analyzing large amounts of data (especially including smart meter readings) is a tedious and complex task even for experts, but powerful tracking and analytics tools often come with high price tags.

Updating Old Buildings is Often Overlooked

While energy efficiency is being incorporated into new construction, existing buildings account for a majority of the building stock that will be in place in the foreseeable future. In his 2009 presidential address, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) presidential member Gordon Holness stated that 75% to 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2030 already exist today (ASHRAE 2010). This statistic suggests that there is an opportunity for reducing the building sector’s contribution toward global energy consumption through reduction of energy use in existing buildings (Hayter and Kandt).

Nature and Context

Large companies spend millions, or billions, of dollars directly on energy each year—and millions more indirectly, on supply chain, outsourcing, and logistics costs. Yet outside the most energy-intensive industries, the majority of firms approach energy as merely a cost to be managed. This is a strategic mistake that overlooks enormous opportunities to reduce risk, improve resilience, and create new value (HBR).

the impact
Economic Impact

Save on Energy, Use Resources Elsewhere

Cost-effective energy efficiency improvements can have positive macroeconomic impacts, boosting economic activity and often leading to increased employment. Energy efficiency reduces the amount of energy needed to deliver services, such as mobility, lighting, heating and cooling. Lowering the cost of energy services frees up resources for households, businesses and governments (IEA).

Financing Options

Clean energy technologies may be proliferating and their prices falling, but it’s not always easy for companies to take advantage of them. Doing so requires a sophisticated understanding of the financial and risk implications of various purchasing options. The most widely used renewable-energy financing mechanism is the power purchasing agreement (PPA). The simplest version is a 10- to 20-year commitment to buy clean power at a set price, usually from a wind or solar farm. Finance and operations executives may balk at signing long-term contracts, despite the good prices. And like all hedges, PPAs are a gamble: Energy prices are highly volatile, and even renewable energy contracts signed at a price below current costs are no guarantee.

But smart firms understand the value of PPAs as a hedge against price volatility—and as a source of competitive advantage (HBR).

Boosted Employment

Energy efficiency can induce job creation. A recent study assessing the impact of the EU's Ecodesign Directive projects that the efficiency measures developed as part of the directive will lead to 0.8 million additional jobs by 2020. In addition, the energy services market provides a further source of employment. Energy service companies (ESCOs) that are contracted to provide energy efficiency benefits to customers on a continuing basis and energy utilities that are obligated to deliver energy efficiency by policy makers are the two main players in the sector, which employs more than 1 million people globally (IEA).

Negative Effects

Ignoring energy use hurts the environment

All forms of electricity generation have an environmental impact on our air, water and land, but it varies. Of the total energy consumed in the United States, about 40% is used to generate electricity, making electricity use an important part of each person’s environmental footprint.

Producing and using electricity more efficiently reduces both the amount of fuel needed to generate electricity and the amount of greenhouse gases and other air pollution emitted as a result. Electricity from renewable resources such as solar, geothermal, and wind generally does not contribute to climate change or local air pollution since no fuels are combusted (EPA).

Success Metrics
  • Update already existing buildings and businesses to include renewable energy resources

  • Continue to implement renewable energy practices in new building and businesses

  • Educate the general public on their own energy consumption practices

  • Incentivize transitioning to renewable sources of energy for businesses

who benefits from solving this problem
Organization Types
  • Businesses large and small

  • Fossil Fuel Industry

  • Renewable Energy industry

  • EPA

  • Business owners

  • Households

financial insights
Current Funding

Apps and Programs Already Monitoring and Reducing Energy Consumption

Take control of your energy use with EnergyCloud. Real-time electricity monitor helps eliminate unexpected high utility bills by showing where and when electricity is used down to the appliance level. See electricity usage in easy-to-understand dollars and cents.

Whether you are an industrial, retail or commercial enterprise, a government, utility or an educational institution, expect to get smart data and realize energy savings with the Noveda solution software as a service (SaaS) solution that works right out of the box, with no software to maintain or upgrade, and data that is accessible from anywhere.

The next revolution in smart energy technology. Smappee is an all-in-one energy management system for commercial, industrial and residential use. It gathers data on solar production and energy, gas and water consumption. Consult real-time and historical data in the Smappee App or Dashboard. Control appliances and loads to save energy and money.

Ideas Description

How Businesses Can Transition to Smart Energy (HBR).

1. Start with a C-Level Mandate

An energy strategy will be hard to implement without explicit engagement from the CEO and a clear governance structure. Laggard companies in our study identified the lack of this organization as their biggest obstacle to progress. The CEO mandate typically begins with a commitment—within the company, initially—to make energy strategy central to the firm’s mission and competitiveness. The CEO should signal the importance of this commitment by appointing a senior executive to serve as champion and shepherd. In firms where operations and energy footprint are critical, as is the case for industrial and petrochemical manufacturers, the COO may play this role; in companies where energy sourcing and financing are central issues (in the ICT and retail sectors), the CFO may be the right choice.

2. Integrate Energy into the Company’s Vision and Operations

The team’s first job is to assess the firm’s internal and external energy impacts. Among the questions it should consider are: How much energy does our firm use, and what does it cost? What impact does this spending have on key financial indicators such as cost of goods sold? Are we capitalizing on opportunities to use renewables? What is our carbon footprint and that of our suppliers? How does this align with customer, investor, and employee expectations, and how do we compare with competitors? Answers to these questions will quickly reveal performance opportunities and gaps.

3. Track Energy at All Levels

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. Indeed, it’s often the largest inadequately monitored part of a company’s cost structure. Most companies lack good systems for accessing energy data quickly or in a form that provides actionable information.

4. Shift to Renewables and Other Advanced Energy Technologies

The market for clean energy technologies is changing fast, and companies need to understand both the technologies and their financing options. Firms that aren’t aggressively incorporating renewables and other new energy technologies into their overall energy strategies are overlooking important benefits and exposing themselves to an array of risks.

Tech Solutions

Optio3 offers a comprehensive approach to digitize the most diverse ecosystems that span across multiple industries including Commercial Transportation, Telecommunications, Utilities, and Commercial Buildings. With Optio3, organizations can uncover meaningful data patterns, unlock operational insights, and apply these insights to achieve positive business outcomes.

EnergyCloud real-time electricity monitor helps eliminate unexpected high utility bills by showing where and when electricity is used down to the appliance level. See electricity usage in easy-to-understand dollars and cents.

Smappee is an all-in-one energy management system for commercial, industrial and residential use. It gathers data on solar production and energy, gas and water consumption. Consult real-time and historical data in the Smappee App or Dashboard. Control appliances and loads to save energy and money.

The Mapdwell Project is about enabling communities with information that will drive sustainable practices, community awareness, energy efficiency, and smart development through the aggregate effort of individuals. By transforming accurate, open, and unbiased information into education and action, the project proposes an organic yet highly auspicious approach to the fossil fuel dilemma.

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