The Business Case for Hiring an Energy Manager

by Jacob Robinson, Program Coordinator, EDF Climate Corps

Here’s a provocative thought: energy managers are worth more than their weight in gold.

We often use that expression in a figurative sense—in this case, to emphasize the value of a dedicated energy manager, whose sole mission is to find financial and environmental efficiencies in a strategic way throughout an organization’s operations and mission. But could it be literally true?

Jacob Robinson

Jacob Robinson

Doing the math

With the average global body mass of a person being 62 kilograms and the current price of a 1 kilogram gold bar hovering around $39,000, an individual’s weight in gold is roughly $2.4 million dollars.

As part of EDF Climate Corps, graduate-level fellows spend 10 to 12 weeks uncovering opportunities for smart energy management, identifying an average of $1 million dollars in savings per fellow. Considering what a year-round employee could do, the annual value to an organization might top $4 million.

Making the case for management

If you’re putting together a budget request for an energy manager (or integrating energy responsibilities into existing positions) and drawing up a job description, this calculation is just a starting point. The business value of energy managers and integrating energy management into existing positions can be fruitful year over year, regardless of an organization’s maturity level at which they are addressing energy management.

Further, new technologies, funding mechanisms and incentives are constantly entering the market, requiring a dedicated set of eyes to analyze the most strategic opportunities.

Tools for digging deeper

If your organization is considering building the business case for hiring an energy manager, here are some helpful resources:

  • A 2013 GreenBiz survey, which found that 52 percent of a wide group of companies employ a dedicated energy manager, and noted that sustainability is increasingly being woven into organizations’ day-to-day practices;
  • The key roles and pathway for an energy manager to be successful, as described in the BSR Energy Management Playbook;
  • The groundwork needed to hire dedicated energy staff, including responsibilities, as described by the EPA Energy Star’s Guidelines for Energy Management;
  • A study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which advocates that energy managers play a critical role in the development and implementation of energy efficiency policies and goals. Moreover, the report recommends good contract language from the inception to shape the energy manager engagement, screening prospective participants and building on initial results to win over senior management;
  • A report by the Pew Global Center on Climate Change (now C2ES) and ICF International suggests looking at all levels of energy management teams for support, given that 69 percent of companies surveyed found champions at the plant or facility manager level;
  • The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (org) is a site that includes several energy related resources and incentives often accessed and leveraged by energy managers; and
  • The ISO 50001 standard, which defines the tasks of top management as well as an energy management team, usually cross-functional. The standard is flexible as to how successful energy management is achieved.

At EDF, we aim to help organizations as they seek to quantify the value of an energy manager. If there is a data point or information you need to advocate for this position, but is missing from the list above, please let us know!

Energy managers may be worth more than their weight in gold, and like the golden goose, they keep on giving for years.

Unlike the golden goose, they’re real, and you don’t have to go on a quest to find one; you just have to make the case internally.

Also of interest: