Achieving Energy Efficiency through the Green Business Programme
Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the National Waste Prevention Programme, The Green Business programme operated from 2008 to 2018. The Green Business Programme identified circa €15 million of cost savings for businesses, an average saving of €35,000 per company visited. 70% of these savings were associated with energy management. Many of the savings identified were “no cost” or “low cost” opportunities.
While site visits probably had the greatest impact on moving business towards energy efficiency, the other services offered by Green Business such as the Resource Efficiency Seminars and online services added essential synergies to the programme. Face to face mentoring and personal correspondence following site visits was an essential factor in ensuring energy efficiency projects were implemented.
Energy use can be a significant cost to every SME business in Ireland. Many SMEs are not monitoring utility costs and unaware of the extent of waste energy. Many businesses use excessive energy and pay excessive energy costs, which eat into their profit margins, reducing their sustainability.
Many SMEs are unaware that there are many opportunities to improve energy efficiency at “no cost” or “low cost”. “No cost” options provide almost immediate savings at no cost to the business, e.g. reducing unnecessary tariffs on energy bills, while “low cost” have a typical return on investment of less than two years, e.g. installation of LED lighting. Many SMEs suffer from a lack of expertise in relation to energy management.
The challenge is, how can government and business federations raise awareness on energy efficiency and costs in business, so that every SME has a better understanding of how it can increase efficiency? Reducing costs and energy consumption will allow business in Ireland to be (a) more sustainable and (b) less carbon intensive.
In the last 10 years, the government has funded a number of excellent programmes which have assisted SMEs with Energy Efficiency. These include SEAI’s Advice, Mentoring and Assessments (AMA), EPA Green Hospitality Programme, and EPA Green Business Programme. Funding has been withdrawn from all of these programmes in recent years.
The Green Business Programme (2008-2018) was a free service for business offered a host of solutions to raising awareness on resource efficiency which included:
- On-site assessments (400 completed in 10 years)
- Resource Efficiency Seminars (70 run regionally)
- Guidance documents and case studies
- Regional business networks (a number established in conjunction with Tidy Towns and Green Festivals)
- Interactive website with tools and resources
The Green Business Programme identified circa €15million worth of cost savings for business. Green Business identified an average saving of €35,000 per company visited. 70% of these savings were associated with energy management. Many of the savings identified were “no cost” or “low cost” opportunities.
Many of the businesses which Green Business visited subsequently implemented energy saving projects. Here some examples verified by Green Business.
Company : C&F Manufacturing, Athenry (Engineering)
- Action: Replaced: 1,198 florescent tubes with LED
- Result Reduced electricity costs by €37,000/annum
- Investment: €18,000
- R.O I: 6 months
Company : C&F Manufacturing, Athenry (Engineering)
- Action: Replaced: Raised Awareness on turning off energy users when not required
- Result Reduced electricity costs by €10,000/annum
- Investment: €900
- R.O I: 1 month
Company : Pig Processor (Food)
- Action: Reduced water flow rate on trigger-hoses from 26l/min to 20l/ min.
- Result: Reduced energy and water costs by €37,000/annum
- Investment: €0
- R.O I: Immediate
Company : CG Power Systems, Cavan (Engineering)
- Action: Better control on gas ovens
- Result: Reduced energy costs by €180,000/annum
- Investment: €195,000
- R.O I: 13 months
While site visits probably had the greatest impact on moving business towards energy efficiency, the other services offered by Green Businesses such as the Resource Efficiency Seminars and online services added essential synergies to the programme. Face to face mentoring and the personal correspondence following site visits was an essential factor in ensuring energy efficiency projects were implemented.
Government funded resource/ energy efficiency programmes have been successful in Ireland. It takes a number of years for these types of programmes to gain traction and become accepted by business. Therefore, it is best to maintain or develop well accepted programmes where possible rather than to reinvent new programmes which can take years to become well established.
About James Hogan
Programme Manager for GreenBusiness.ie Clean Technology Centre, CIT.
James Hogan has been an Environmental Consultant and Researcher with the Clean Technology Centre, based at CIT since 1995. In that time he has worked on a wide range of environmental projects both Irish based and International. His areas of expertise include; Environmental Management Systems, Waste Auditing, Cleaner Production, Energy Efficiency and CO2emission trading.
James is currently programme manager for Greenbusiness.ie and formerly the Green Hospitality Programme both of which are funded by the Environmental Protection Agency under the National Waste Prevention Programme.