Energy efficiency: Companies driven by cost control

Driven by cost control, companies are committed to energy efficiency but most are only scratching the surface, not tapping into their full potential. These findings emerge from an international survey conducted by DNV GL – Business Assurance, a world leader among certification bodies, and the research institute GFK Eurisko, on more than 1,557 professionals from businesses in different sectors in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Energy efficiency management

Energy efficiency is a key topic: not only at a personal (77%) and societal (81%) level but from a business perspective too (69%). 57% of the companies surveyed have an energy efficiency strategy and 55% set measurable goals, with percentages around 10 points higher for businesses belonging to the energy intensive sectors.

However, energy efficiency is still a generic ambition, with goals mainly set at company level (37%). Very few set concrete targets on activities, even among energy intensive firms.

Costs drive sustainability

67% of the companies have invested in energy efficiency initiatives during the last three years. Costs are driving sustainability: 46% stated that they invested in energy efficiency measures in order to obtain more efficient tools, or to reduce energy consumption and costs. Companies are making concrete efforts in order to optimize their energy management, but without a long-term view. Only 26% have an energy management plan. More sophisticated initiatives such as staff training (21%), having energy managers (20%) or performing audits and assessments (20%), play a minor role.

A clear strategy and a systematic approach are lacking: less than half of the companies that have undertaken efficiency activities are able to quantify the energy savings obtained.

Main obstacles and main benefits

Management awareness is not a problem; it was mentioned by only 18% of the companies. Economic constraints are the main obstacles preventing companies from making more progress: other priorities (36%), expensive implementation (33%), lack of returns (25%) and focus on short term results (24%) top the list.

A systematic approach would help firms make the right decisions and get a proper return on their investments. However, the benefits are already perceived as exceeding the costs (59%), especially in terms of savings (54%).

Future outlook

Looking ahead, companies are expected to increase their commitment to energy efficiency by taking a more mature approach. Activities related to cost and consumption reduction will remain the most common actions, but there will also be significant increases in more strategic actions like staff training (+13% compared with the present time), identification of energy savings potentials (+8%) and preparation of energy management plans (+7%).