The Combined Interests of Energy & Sustainability Managers


Aries Clean Energy

Publication Date

July 14, 2017

In this month’s blog, we take a look at a growing trend for leading sustainable companies – aligning Energy Managers and Sustainability Managers with shared goals and tools.

The Combined Interests of Energy & Sustainability today

In this month’s blog, we take a look at a growing trend for leading sustainable companies – aligning Energy Managers and Sustainability Managers with shared goals and tools.


The Lowing Hanging Fruit Is Gone

The low-hanging fruit in saving energy (and reducing emissions) is slowly being gobbled up. Most companies have uncovered the easy ways to save energy and save money. Yet, as the goals get bigger and the stakes become higher, cutting-edge firms are finding new strategies to future-proof their growth and competitive edge. We distilled key lessons from leading companies that will help your company achieve more ambitious energy reductions.

In a traditional setup, a company likely has an Energy Manager who sets goals, monitors energy performance, and perhaps spearheads efficiency improvements. Many companies also have a Sustainability Manager who oversees sustainability strategy, R&D, external communications, and more. How often do these people or teams sit down for lunch and check in? For example, a GreenBiz survey of a wide range of companies found that 52% employed a dedicated energy manager, but sustainability was only slowly being woven into the organization’s day-to-day activities.


Science-Based Targets Raise The Stakes

Another challenge is presenting itself for the corporate sustainability movement: Emissions goals are getting bigger. In fact, this is a good thing. “Science-Based Targets” are leading the charge. Generally, companies would take a look at their footprints and create an arbitrary goal. Now, thanks to the Paris Climate Agreements, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and countries around who have set Science-Based Targets, companies are stepping up and setting deeper reductions targets. Targets adopted by companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are considered “science-based” if they are in line with the level of decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre- industrial temperatures, as described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5).

Science-Based Targets even have organizational support. It is a collaboration between CDP, World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). Already, over 286 companies are taking science-based climate action and 54 have committed to science-based reductions. You may recognize some of the names: The Coca-Cola Company, Advanced Micro Devices, General Mills, Sony, and Wal-Mart.

As more companies join, they add to their competitive edge for the future while reducing costly emissions costs.


Enter the Sustainability and Energy Overlap

As we speak with companies committed to sustainability, we’re seeing a growing trend amongst the forward-looking companies. They are increasingly overlapping their Energy Managers and Sustainability Managers. This looks different in each firm. Yet, we’ve unveiled a few key actions that consistently help firms achieve deeper cost-savings and fewer carbon emissions.

  • Constant communication / cross-pollination
  • Create shared incentives
  • Shared tools
  • Identify “double wins”

In the case study below, we take a look at 3M’s energy system implementation and how they integrate their entire company to create big wins.

In a case study, 3M shares insight on their Sustainability and Energy overlap and how they’ve saved money and drastically cut emissions. 3M has had a Corporate Energy Management Department since 1973, but has continued to pioneer continual improvement. 3M facilities were among the first to pilot ISO50001 in 2011 and has even implemented Superior Energy Performance (ISO50021) at 3 facilities.

3M’s most recent corporate goal was to improve the energy efficiency of its global operations by 15% between 2010 and 2015. Each operational facility is expected to improve its energy performance to help the corporation achieve the goal. At each location, plant energy teams are provided management systems guidelines that lead them to identify and implement energy saving opportunities. During the most recent five year goal period, 3M global operations improved their energy performance by 14.1%. Facilities that are participating in ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance are outpacing other 3M facilities and have provided energy efficiency improvements 60% greater than the 3M average. The resultant energy savings from 3M’s global program over the past five years have shown an energy savings of 13 Trillion Btu’s and reduced greenhouse gas emissions of 1.9 million metric tons CO2e.

According to 3M’s Chief Sustainability Officer, “The implementation of a management systems approach for energy management has provided great value….[and is] one of our strategies to meet our next set of corporate energy efficiency goals.”

3M plans to expand the implementation of ISO 50001 to additional locations as part of its strategy to achieve its next energy efficiency goal, which calls for an additional 30% improvement in energy performance by 2025.

What’s clear is that 3M is continually aligning sustainability, corporate goals, and energy goals and integrating all the responsible parties. Here, they list their framework:

  • Top Management Commitment and Corporate Goals
  • Corporate Level Program Leadership
  • Empowered Energy Leaders at Each Facility
  • Sharing of Best Practices Among Facilities


Here’s a closer look at how they do it.

Each facility conducts a facility level management review bi-annually to ensure that the system is suitable, adequate and effective at meeting the facility’s goals and objectives. The results of the facility level management review are communicated to the corporate level management representative for inclusion in the corporate level management review. The role of top management at the corporate level is held by the Corporate ISO Leadership Committee consisting of the Chief Sustainability Officer, the Global Director of Engineering, the directors of manufacturing with responsibility for the ISO facilities within 3M, and the corporate energy management group.

3M even established a Corporate Energy and Sustainability Fund to support energy projects that can have a significant impact on energy performance, but do not meet the financial targets of the individual business groups. As an example, this fund has provided financing for the installation of combined heat and power projects at several 3M locations.

If you look at some of the key actions for achieving deep emissions reductions, 3M consistently employs these steps.

  • Constant communication / cross-pollination – Energy champions report quarterly, management identifies best practices and disseminates to their champions.
  • Create shared incentives – Goals are set collaboratively, so each facility is working toward a goal they’ve aligned with.
  • Shared tools – Both sustainability and energy teams share a dashboard so everyone can see the same information.
  • Identify “double wins” – Each BTU and kWh has a price tag. As improvements are made, the energy teams win and the sustainability teams win.


Gasification is Double-Win

We’re on a mission to help companies go deeper, too. When we work with companies, they get excited about our gasification technology and its capacity to serve as a “double-win” for their energy and sustainability teams.

As energy price tags grow, we aim to help energy managers find a consistent price and fuel supply. In turn, we’re able to help sustainability managers take big steps towards reducing emissions and communicating great stories to their stakeholders.


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