According to Andrew Schafer, the director of Verisae, the complexity and onerous nature of the requirements of the government's Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), are stopping many facilities and operations managers in their tracks, leading to a short term focus on compliance rather than the broader vision of energy efficiency. It is ironic that the bridge designed to take an organisation from incurring a net compliance cost to going 'beyond compliance' and driving reputational and net financial benefits - is often a bridge too far.
Verisae is one of a new breed of companies that advises distributed enterprises and provides a software platform on which companies can monitor, manage and report their carbon and energy usage. Actionable management information is a useful ally in a world where the legislative net is widening and the outlook for the cost of energy and carbon is upwards. The company helps measure, manage and reduce equipment and energy costs globally, and the resultant emissions, through its Sustainability Resource (SRPTM) Platform that helps control more than 2.4 million assets across 23,000 sites and with some 63,000 global users such as JLP/Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Wal-Mart, Target, Supervalu and Safeway.
An area that Verisae has also been addressing for many years is refrigerant management. Its ERM Enterprise Refrigerant Management solution manages more than 50 per cent of US grocery retail refrigerant gases and helps clients to achieve significant efficiencies and cost reduction with regard to managing refrigeration assets and refrigerant gases, as well as to achieve compliance with US EPA and EU F-gas regulation.
Harsh penalties in the US for non-compliance, along with ever-increasing energy, maintenance and refrigerant gas costs, have driven many retailers to drop ad hoc processes and error-prone spreadsheets in favour of Verisae's refrigerant management systems. The company envisages a similar escalation in F-gas enforcement and related penalties across Europe, particularly as carbon targets are tightened.
For many US retailers, responding to EPA regulation has provided a basis upon which to build a wider carbon management strategy. For many UK companies falling under the CRC, it may provide a similar catalyst to formalise the carbon management programme and gain much needed board level visibility and support. While compliance may be the initial driver, it is 'beyond compliance' where the prize lies - energy cost and operational savings.
Armed with real-time monitoring and management systems, companies can provide actionable information to a range of stakeholders, from executives, to facilities, maintenance, energy and environmental managers and even third party contractors.
The secret to sustainability goes far beyond compliance. Organisations have to break down the traditional silos across the areas of energy, asset, facilities and environmental management, to achieving an understanding of, and the ability to manage, the integral linkages between these areas.
Payback comes from a range of efficiencies, thanks to actionable management information software, acquiring data at sufficient granularity and often in real-time, and driving appropriate reporting, notification and alerting at the appropriate levels in the organisation. That's how to address both the spirit and the letter of the law, and achieve energy efficiency way into the future.