Sustainable, resilient and successful businesses ensure that waste of resources is limited as much as possible. The benefits of efficient use of energy and water resources are undisputable. Benefits range from lower operational costs and utility bills, higher profits and greater sustainability as a result of reducing the business’s impact on the environment. Efficient use of energy and water resources is in fact a win-win situation for the business, the community and the environment.
How can a business kick-start this journey towards sustainability?
Energy auditing is one of the initial steps in this journey. An energy audit is a systematic approach in order to assess a business’s energy consumption. The process involves the collection of past energy consumption data as well as appropriate measurement and observation of energy use by the energy auditor.
This information is then analysed in order to identify possible areas of improvement for processes, equipment or systems. Water consumption may also be analysed in order to assess energy-water nexus benefits. The energy auditor will provide a list of recommendations ranked according to the cost and associated benefits hence providing a clear indication of the possible paths available to the business.
Is there any kind of assistance?
The Energy and Water Agency runs the Energy Audit Scheme with the aim of assisting SMEs carry out energy audits. Enterprises can benefit from a grant of up to €5,000 (depending on company size and type of operation). The process is very simple. Interested enterprises would need to apply for a grant under this scheme through the Energy and Water Agency’s website.
The agency reviews the application and informs the company whether it can proceed with engaging a certified energy auditor. Once completed the energy audit is submitted to the Energy and Water Agency to ensure that the report meets the minimum requirements of the scheme following which grant disbursement is completed.
How should one plan for the energy audit?
Preparing and planning for an energy audit ensures that the company gets maximum benefit of this exercise. The following are some points to serve as a guide:
Collate any past energy data such as electricity bills and fuel bills and support such information with operation statistics e.g. units produced, bed-nights etc.
Identify and ensure the availability of key personnel (such as operations and maintenance staff) within the company that can support the energy auditor both during on-site measurements and site visits, as well as to answer queries.
Conduct an introductory meeting with the energy auditor and make sure to discuss the scope (whether organisation-wide or a specific site) of the audit. Highlight the operational patterns of the company. The audit should consider both operational periods and non-operational periods.
Once the energy audit process nears completion, ensure that the energy auditor presents the findings in a closing meeting. You may be surprised that some recommendations that can reduce energy wastage do not necessarily require capital investment. It could be simply readjusting a temperature set point or a behavioural or operational change.
In the case of interventions that require capital outlay, the company can tap into attractive financial tools. The energy auditor can provide some assistance in this regard and further guidance is available from Malta Enterprise and the Energy and Water Agency.
How does one keep track of energy performance post-audit?
You cannot manage what you do not measure. During the closing meeting, ensure that you discuss a monitoring plan with your energy auditor. This might include adding meters to significant energy users within the enterprise. The energy auditor will also suggest a suitable energy performance indicator for the enterprise.
Energy performance indicators incorporate energy consumption and operational data and give a good measure of how the enterprise is performing. Tracking down the performance and analysing the figures will flag areas that require attention at an early stage.
Shifting towards energy management encourages the culture of continuous improvement and the setting up of performance levels that the enterprise can aspire to achieve.
The solution is there, there is guidance along the way and the path to sustainability can start now.
The Water and Energy Management and Knowledge Transfer in Manufacturing Enterprises (WE MAKE) project is a collaboration between the Energy and Water Agency (EWA), Malta Business Bureau and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, sponsored by the Energy and Water Agency, to give businesses within the manufacturing industry guidance on how to consume energy and water efficiently.
Anne Marie Grech is a senior professional executive with the Energy and Water Agency.
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