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Technology Is Not the Only Answer

Clean energy sources through wind technology

As the world transitions from an epoch of cheap, abundant energy to one characterized more by frugality and austerity, the pressure - and impetus - for industrial companies to be more efficient is increasing rapidly. On one side, regulations are becoming ever more stringent – voluntary programs are increasingly being reinforced with regulatory mandates, as in Finland and India. On the other though, companies are realizing significant benefit from more efficient use of energy; namely, they save money and improve their environmental footprint. No matter the driver, it is clear that improved energy management is compulsory for growth.

Though many business leaders now see the value in driving energy efficiency, they also often mistakenly believe that energy management requires big capital investment in new
technologies. This can be a major hang-up for companies that are already dealing with tightened budgets. Contrary to this way of thinking, DuPont has found that more than 40% of total energy efficiency improvement opportunities can be achieved through minor, low cost, continuous energy improvement projects that are grounded in corporate culture change. Energy reduction can be considered part of the cost “portfolio.” Companies can make significant gains with a ‘block and tackle’ strategy of addressing the minor, low-cost efficiency opportunities.

“There is a common misconception that to be energy efficient, a company must invest in the latest energy efficient technologies” says Christopher Smith, Global Practice Leader for Operational Efficiency. "However, in our experience, the most value can be extracted by cultivating a robust energy management system that incorporates the review and optimization of all energy-intensive processes taking place on a given site. Further, through proper maintenance of equipment, much energy waste can be prevented.”

The most successful companies realize that long-term energy efficiency is dependent on a larger cultural shift. Just achieving quick wins in terms of energy cost-savings and lowered risk does not equate to long-term sustainability. However, the cultural shift that allows for these quick wins also lays the groundwork to deploy other energy management technologies and a holistic energy management system, which paves the way for innovation in the future. Companies must understand the impact energy and materials have on their business and view their consumption as a strategic issue.