The Importance of a Sustainable Energy Plan
Creating a Sustainable Energy Plan is a simple, systematic way to examine, refine, and act on one of the most important aspects of a sustainable business. A plan lets you see where you are, decide what immediate positive changes your company can make, and create long-term practical and actionable goals. Why create a plan specifically about energy? Energy use is your most important environmental impact.
For many companies, if you draw a line around your operations — ignoring suppliers and ignoring physical products — your largest potential to do environmental harm comes from your company energy use. Your energy use includes electricity, employee travel, employee commuting and natural gas. And usually, they’re in that order from standpoint of environmental harm.
Energy use creates environmental problems three ways:
1) local emissions, polluting the environment where it’s made and/or used;
2) greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change; and
3) consuming natural resources which are limited on the planet, so you need to be sure your use is at least as valuable as any use your great great grandchildren might have in mind.
Of these, climate change holds the most current attention. For this reason, when companies talk about their "carbon footprint" or their "greenhouse gas emissions" or their "climate change goals" — for the most part, those translate into energy issues and energy strategies.
Some major stakeholders care about your energy strategy, for example:
1) Employees who care about the environment — and by far, more people care about the environment than not. According to Ernst & Young, sustainability reporting increases employee loyalty, and has a positive effect on happiness and productivity. Employees want to believe that they work for a company that is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Also, most people believe that companies should bear most of the responsibility/cost for managing environmental ills — not the government, not "we the people" as consumers.
2) Your customers, especially if you sell to large and/or progressive companies. They want to make sure that you are managing your business responsibly.
3) Investor and advocacy groups. This is a bit tricky. If you’re at a public company, there are numerous investor groups interested in your environmental performance, but very few who actually act on it. Similarly, there are powerful and loud advocacy groups, but they aren’t likely to bother you if you aren't prominent or successful.
Read more at: Clean Techies
Image by Robin Valinski, ENN and Google images