Companies realize that they need a sustainability strategy to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. But most struggle when it comes to implementing an actionable, measurable plan. The 3-step methodology below outlines the basic framework for turning a sustainability strategy into practical reality.
1. Understand the business drivers and set goals
The first step to implementing a comprehensive sustainability program is understanding what’s prompting it. Business drivers pushing sustainability include:
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification
- governmental regulations
- shareholder or customer expectations
- bottom-line efficiency savings
2. Determine the company’s “energy maturity”
To reach their goal, companies must figure out exactly where they stand by evaluating their “energy maturity” — determining the level of technological readiness, financial impact, and corporate commitment to sustainability initiatives. Then they can identify immediate pain points as well as longer-term goals. Companies can gauge their energy maturity by considering the following questions:
- How deeply does the company value sustainability?
- What’s the financial impact of energy costs?
- How integrated are systems and processes?
- How is data collected and assessed?
Being honest and realistic in their evaluation lets companies determine the next best steps and set pragmatic, achievable objectives.
3. Acquire actionable intelligence
Measurement and control are at the heart of achieving sustainability goals. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Consequently, companies need the proper vehicles (system devices, software) to provide such measurement and control. Individual systems must be architected to capture and share data to provide a holistic view of energy usage company-wide. Then that data must be analyzed to cultivate actionable intelligence with which to improve performance and boost efficiency. Gathering system data from the bottom up (smart metering, carbon-emissions sensors, for example) and then harnessing it for analysis from the top down (via software dashboards), enables the company to spot energy consumption patterns, visualize energy costs, meet reporting obligations, and conduct what-if scenarios. And this actionable intelligence is what allows companies to move their sustainability strategy from theory to reality.