Technology Issues – Cost-saving Teamwork
The top four ways to make energy savings stick
March April 2017 – Spring is a time of hope and renewed energy with longer days of sunshine and warmer weather. It is also a great time to reflect on how energy costs in the past months have impacted your bottom line, and to work with your team to make your greenhouse more cost-effective for the year to come.
Many companies introduce new initiatives to engage employees and increase efficiency, but over time these can fizzle from lack of direction and competing priorities. You will succeed in energy management by engaging all employees and making energy-related thinking part of your day-to-day activities. Greenhouses are well positioned to excel at this. A relatively small number of employees at a greenhouse (for example, compared to a large manufacturer) and fewer tiers of management make greenhouse businesses fertile ground for success.
Here are four tips to help launch your greenhouse energy program and sustain enthusiasm over time.
1) Diversity: Energy management succeeds when owners set clear direction, and engage a range of staff to understand the energy bills coming in. When experts in crop management, climate control, accounting and operations examine the when, where and how much of energy use, they bring a diversity of perspectives. This helps clarify and quantify both opportunities and constraints, and will lead to realistic and sustainable changes. Your team can build knowledge and maintain momentum by holding regular group meetings (we suggest monthly) to discuss the current status, report on successes and look at market projections.
2) Education: Nobody likes doing things they aren’t good at. If your employees don’t feel equipped to do what is asked, their enthusiasm will quickly disappear and energy management will too. Provide your staff with expert training on energy markets and rates, data analysis, and operating approaches to achieve both cost and usage savings. Engaging an external energy coach to provide on-going mentoring and support to staff will help embed energy firmly in your company’s culture.
3) Empowerment: Provide your teams with a mandate to find energy savings, but give them autonomy in decision-making so they can own the program and determine their best way to achieve targets. Once your employees have built their base energy knowledge, they will naturally start to bring forward savings opportunities based on their own detailed knowledge of your greenhouse.
4) Celebration: Celebration of success naturally follows the first three steps. It reinforces that energy is a critical component of the greenhouse, and that management values the team’s efforts. It supports efforts to track and verify savings, which helps you know when and what to celebrate. Showcasing the organization’s successes will motivate employees from all levels of the greenhouse to think more about how they each contribute to your organization’s energy savings. Once they are thinking about it, they will want to find additional ways to improve.
Once a greenhouse begins to track energy usage and learn about how they are billed, it doesn’t take long for energy team members to get excited about savings opportunities. A greenhouse team that is excited and empowered to take control of energy will naturally reduce costs and improve productivity. While there is no one fail-proof recipe to sustain a strong energy management program, programs that succeed over the long term share these four key principles.
This feature is supplied by 360 Energy, one of North America’s leading energy services firms. Browse the Energy microsite on our website (greenhousecanada.com) for more 360 Energy features.
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