Setting energy targets | PLANT

Three ways to reduce use and improve performance.

Setting goals and targets provides the direction for improvement. Without a goal, efforts wander and eventually de-rail. That’s why many manufacturers are making it standard practice to set short- and long-term energy reduction targets as part of a comprehensive strategy.

But there’s more than one way to approach this challenge. Here are three suggestions:

Opportunity based. A reduction target depends on the opportunities. Develop an inventory of them and sum up the total reduction available in a common unit (kWh, GJ). This target can be expressed in terms of a percentage reduction versus a baseline in normalized or absolute terms.

Internal best practices. Companies with multiple facilities set a reduction target based on the delta between the lowest and highest performing facilities. Baseline each facility in normalized and/or absolute terms using a standardized approach. Targets will challenge the lowest to match the highest performing facilities. Summing up the total achievable reductions provide the overall target.

Industry best practices. With more companies reporting energy performance in both absolute and normalized terms, it’s much easier to use industry best practices to set reduction targets. Research the performance of similar organizations and set reduction targets to match based on the best ones.

Companies at the beginning of the journey should start with opportunity-based or internal best practices and work up to industry best practices. More advanced companies should adopt industry best practices to stretch performance.

Although these approaches focus on setting energy targets, they’ll also work in other areas such as water reduction, carbon reduction and waste diversion. In all cases, setting goals is a critical initial step to improving performance.

Brett Wills is the director of the Green Enterprise Movement and a senior consultant with High Performance Solutions in Cambridge, Ont. E-mail

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