How to Build a Sustainability Program

Follow these steps to identify sustainability priorities and enact strategies that will add value to your organization.

By Nelson Squires, Contributing Writer  

As we consider the requirements for doing business today and what will be critical in the future, sustainability tops the list. Primarily driven by rising energy costs that can impact profits, businesses are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint and help create a greener and more resilient future. This coupled with increased regulatory and consumer demands make sustainability a top priority.  

Sustainability is also top of mind for both business leaders and consumers. In the last several years, there has been an increase in climate-related laws and policies. From 1997 to 2017, the number of global climate laws passed increased 20-fold according to CarbonBrief. With time, more stringent certification requirements and carbon reduction targets can be expected. Beyond complying with laws and evolving to meet changing consumer expectations, another “green” is often a motivator: OPEX cost savings. Businesses can save money by reducing energy consumption and capitalize on tax incentives while making quantifiable steps toward meeting ESG goals.  

The issue for facility managers and sustainability leaders is knowing what they need to do, where to start, and who can help. Many who are tasked with meeting company sustainability objectives are faced with uncharted paths and a dynamic ecosystem of potential solution providers. With so many factors to consider, the sustainability journey can be complex.  

Whether companies are looking to minimize their carbon footprint, meet ESG goals, create more predictable and resilient energy, lower energy costs, or scale a deployment globally, the following are best practices for developing a comprehensive sustainability program:  

  • Step 1: Identify and understand your company’s top sustainability goals. What are the priorities and how are you keeping score? Once identified, you can better focus your efforts to support company objectives. 
  • Step 2: Understand how your company is currently consuming energy. Evaluate where your organization is utilizing the most energy to establish a baseline and target key locations or opportunities. Look at your utility bills and identify power factor charges related to energy inefficiencies that may be causing power surcharges.   
  • Step 3: Create a journey map of possible solutions with return rates. Possibilities include LED lighting retrofits, identifying older motors in your plant, renewable energy like solar, battery energy storage to utilize off-peak energy costs and build resiliency, fleet electrification, and microgrids. These options – coupled with an understanding of available rebates and government funding options – could help you greenlight projects to help achieve OPEX savings and meet your sustainability goals.   

What can you expect to achieve if you follow these three steps? An opportunity to lower costs, innovate, build more resilient operations, and make a difference. As an example, we partnered with a manufacturer to identify energy and cost savings opportunities to combat energy waste and large utility charges from energy contract termination, reducing global adjustment charges, power factor correction, and integration with lighting controls. This uncovered savings opportunities specific to air compressors, chillers, capacitor banks, and updating aged press motors to help increase efficiency and institute controls. As a result, the manufacturer is expected to reduce operating costs by $472,000 and energy use by 3.8 GWh annually in less than 8 months.  

While developing and implementing a sustainability program can seem overwhelming, starting with these first three steps can help you prioritize and map out a plan. Long-term success hinges on the ability to stay organized, effectively collaborate with your larger ecosystem of partners and suppliers, and efficiently manage the execution and roll-out of your prioritized sustainability solutions.  

Nelson Squires is Executive Vice President and General Manager, Electrical & Electronic Solutions at Wesco. 


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  posted on 3/13/2023   Article Use Policy

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