Being Practical with Energy Management
Lisa Brodeur is a 'Quality Assurance Supervisor' at 360 Energy who writes a weekly 'Energy Edge' blog.
"There are all kinds of technologies, training programs, workshops and experts in the energy industry," say Lisa Brodeur, quality assurance specialist at 360 Energy. "Each one offers different approaches, outlooks and solutions for a greenhouse grower. The problem is that there are no assurances about whether or not these tools will work with one other."
That being said, how do growers know what will be best? How does one decide where to start?
A few points to consider:
A simple five-step management process will ensure energy is reviewed thoroughly and that there is a focus on it throughout the entire year, not just the growing season. Our 'Journey to Energy Excellence' offers this solution.
You may wish to tackle the easy low-cost items to attain quick savings (the low-hanging fruit) and then move on to higher cost, capital-intensive investments.
To excell at energy management, you should be proficient in three key areas - energy usage, data management/reporting, and integrating information throughout your organization. Weakness or a lack of attention in any one of these areas will to lead higher energy costs.
Start with a vision of what you want to achieve and then begin implementing the five-step management process. This will allow you to develop and successfully implement a plan, with short, medium and long-term goals that are specific to your operation. Make these goals attainable and ensure that any outside sources you utilize (consultants, utilities, suppliers) are helping lead you to measurable energy savings.
You will want to make one change at a time, so this will enable you to determine whether any each change is actually improving your production numbers or lowering your energy consumption figures. If the changes aren’t improving things in at least one of those two areas, perhaps the solution isn’t the right one for your operation at that time.
There is, however, the possibility it could work in the future, which is why you should review your plan every year and re-evaluate your options within the parameters of your operation.
Learning from world experts
Internationally, there is a shift towards integrated energy management practices, specifically in the greenhouse sector, and that shift is beginning to make its way to North America. This approach simplifies the tasks for everyone involved in the management of a greenhouse, by working together and taking a team approach to run an efficient operation.
360 Energy offered an opportunity for growers to learn more about this practical approach through a webinar that was held June 13th. It featured a presentation by Sjaak Bakker, business unit manager for Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture.
A short summary of the presentation is located here.
Lisa Brodeur is a Quality Assurance Specialist at 360 Energy.
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