It’s an exciting time to be an energy manager! As more organizations buy into sustainability and energy stewardship as a core component of their business model, opportunities will continue to multiply. But regardless of the situation, there will be certain common challenges.
Here are five common problems that energy managers will continue to face:
Regardless of the size or type of organization, energy managers are responsible for a lot of data. There’s energy usage data, cost data, interval data, utility rate information from the vendor, operational data, energy budget data, energy saving goals data, internal processes, and more. Energy managers are expected to be experts of the data so they can make wise energy management decisions. But the sheer amount of data can easily overwhelm the most capable energy manager.
Speaking of energy data, it’s often a moving target, and data management processes take time. One month’s utility bills might have been processed and analyzed, but before long, next month’s bills are ready to be dealt with. If you don’t process them quickly enough, there are vendor deadlines and special rates and vendor reimbursements to apply for. It’s difficult to get your bearing with so much changing data that needs to be acted upon.
How do you know if your energy efficiency projects are saving you money? There are many factors to consider when answering this question such as weather changes, building use changes, and square footage changes. Because of these variations over time, it can be challenging to know if efforts are really working. For example, a baseline has to be established, and future conditions normalized for the baseline. What are you measuring, and how are you measuring it?
Energy managers often report to a variety of different stakeholders with differing levels of technical experience or expertise. This knowledge gap can create a communication crisis. For example, because energy managers are in the details, they may try to explain the details to stakeholders, while all along, the stakeholders want a broader explanation. Energy managers need to be able to speak in a way that stakeholders will understand.
While energy managers are tasked with managing and perhaps reducing energy use, they may have limited control over the energy outlets. They can’t be in multiple locations at the same time, so unless the facilities are automated, there are other people controlling lights, thermostats, and other controls, which ultimately affect the bottom line. And there are always financial and organizational limitations that will challenge your ability to get things done.
Conscientious energy managers find solutions to these common problems. In future blogs, we’ll visit each of these problems and find out how you are solving them!