As global discussion around climate change increases, many industries are asking themselves what part they play in both the challenges and the solutions.
The first step to answering these questions lies in understanding the environmental impact of industrial energy usage. This provides useful insights into how each sector can do their part for the climate. Companies should then consider which actions will be practical, achievable and most impactful in their goal of becoming more climate-friendly.
Those two elements of evaluation are leading more and more corporate leaders to their next right step: Energy Efficiency.
Most electricity production in the United States today takes place in thermal power plants. As they burn fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, biofuels, or nuclear fuel, water is heated to produce steam, which spins a turbine to produce electricity. This electricity generation produces close to a third of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the US, making it the largest contributor to GHG emissions in the country. Globally, 38% of total final energy use was attributed to the industrial sector in 2021.
These GHG emissions pollute the atmosphere, raising global temperatures and negatively affecting the climate. Therefore, decreasing energy usage, directly resulting in a reduction in the GHG emissions created in energy generation, is an important way industrial facilities can do their part to reduce the harmful impacts of climate change.
“Industrial energy efficiency is amongst one of the most underrated opportunities to reduce global greenhouse emissions… Industrial energy efficiency often does not receive the attention it needs from executives and global decision-makers in order to seize all of the potential that it offers as a climate solution.”
Tareq Emtairah, Director, Department of Energy at UNIDO
Simply put, energy efficiency means modifying the way we accomplish routine tasks to use less energy than before. In other words, energy efficiency is all about streamlining energy usage to get more done with less. In the industrial sector, it represents an organizational shift towards a holistic view of long-term strategic energy management.
This efficiency mindset places in motion a self-sustaining energy program designed to enhance an organization’s operations, culture, and solvency – powerfully impacting the triple bottom line. Low or no-cost efficiency projects result in financial savings, providing additional resources for other sustainability or clean energy efforts. Decarbonization goals then have a reliable source of funding to invest in larger projects, leading to larger benefits.
Therefore, any effort to mitigate climate change must involve energy efficient strategies. The key to success lies in implementing an energy efficiency program centered on practical measures focused on achievable goals and meaningful results.
Practical first steps on the sustainability journey are crucial. Energy efficiency facilitates the completion of inexpensive, straightforward projects, creating a direct line to decreasing energy consumption.
A focus on energy efficiency elevates the achievability of an organization’s climate change goals. Efficiency efforts are often small changes that produce big results, making them highly motivating and likely to last.
Energy efficiency often kickstarts with a scan of all facility equipment and operations for what Cascade calls “Quick Wins”. These are low or no-cost modifications that can be implemented with very little investment. Involving an energy efficiency consultant in this process is extremely helpful. These coaches and engineers possess valuable expertise in identifying opportunities, calculating potential savings, and guiding internal teams through action plans on the path to success.
Energy efficiency programs facilitate inexpensive, straightforward projects, creating a direct line to decreasing energy consumption.
“Energy efficiency is critical to solving the climate crisis. In most cases, efficiency measures have proven to be the most cost-effective way to address climate change while reducing energy waste, saving money, and affordably expanding the use of renewable energy resources.”
Energy efficiency delivers a myriad of environmental benefits. It notably reduces GHG emissions directly related to electricity generation. It also decreases other pollutants and reduces water usage. Successful decarbonization plans and sustainability initiatives incorporate energy efficiency measures.
Additionally, embracing the efficiency philosophy is transformational for company culture. Pride and unity infuse every level of an organization as employees, executives and investors align themselves behind a climate-friendly global mission. These companies are seen as community leaders and desirable partnerships.
As the industrial sector seeks ways to make a positive impact on climate change, energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important to that answer. The practical implementation of energy efficiency, coupled with the meaningful results produced, make it the easiest way to source “new” energy. Simply put, the quickest and cheapest clean energy solution lies in the energy that remains unused.
Global Environment Facility CEO and Chairperson Naoko Ishii said it this way: “Industrial energy efficiency is a no regret investment.”
Cascade’s energy efficiency coaches and engineers are excited to help you succeed in your goals to decarbonize, reduce GHG emissions and embrace a climate-friendly company philosophy. Reach out to us to take the first step on your energy efficiency journey.