Tye Buckley, Spirax Sarco USA Director of Services, 10/06/2022

Sustainability? Where do you begin?

Edward Deming is famously quoted as saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. How is it that one of the most renowned economists and statisticians could just as easily contradict himself and how does it relate to starting your sustainability journey? 

Deming followed up his famous quote with a second: “It is wrong to assume that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth”. 

Sustainability is all about balancing environmental, ethical, and economic impacts. Corporate goals are aligning around carbon neutrality or even possibly a carbon-positive impact on the environment. 

Now that the goal is set, the questions start to follow. How do we close the gap? Where do we start? This is where the famous Deming comes into play. 

Energy Management systems are the typical answer to that question. They provide the solution, right? If you measure it, you can manage it. Unfortunately, it is a little more complicated. This is where Deming raises his second point. There are items that can impact your sustainability journey, that can’t necessarily be measured, and there are items that won’t get better just because you are now measuring them. 

A measurement tool is a key part of the equation, but it isn’t the total solution. Knowing how to analyze the data, determining, and implementing the new solutions, and adjusting the culture of the company have to be taken into consideration. 

Here are four key steps to start building your sustainability journey:

Step 1 - System Assessment

As part of step 1, you want to identify your low-hanging opportunities and your key energy sources that are contributing to your environmental impact. The second part of this step should include a look into how the company culture aligns with the strategy (one of those items that most likely can’t be measured). Coming out of this assessment, you should have a list of projects focused on energy-saving opportunities along with a design for your new energy monitoring and management system.

Step 2 - Implement Quick Win Energy Savings Projects and Energy Monitoring System 

Based on the projects identified in Step 1, you would be able to prioritize and implement the best ones, balancing the payback and cost of the project. Implementing your Energy Management System will start providing more data that will help uncover additional opportunities.

One key part of this journey is not just reaching a carbon neutral, or even positive target, but making sure that target is sustainable for the long run.

Step 3 - Focus on Generation and Develop Zero Carbon Roadmap 

Now that you know where you are consuming resources and using energy and how that energy is being generated, you can focus on building your roadmap to eliminate as much of your footprint as possible. The data will help support your future strategy and give you the full picture of your environmental impact.

Step 4 - Green Energy Upgrades

By having a fully integrated energy model of your system, you can justify green or renewable energy savings projects. The data will help identify how much energy is required and potential green sources that could support your production. 

These four steps are a great way to implement your Sustainability goals. Having the ability to capture the data, analyze the data, and act are keys to success. Don’t forget about the items that you can’t measure but need to be managed – Culture can make or break your ability to achieve your targets.  

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