Monitoring energy use – and improving environmental performance
Noel Morrin, International Environment Director, RMC Group explains how, by systematically monitoring and managing energy use, real gains in environmental (and financial) performance can be achieved.Managing environmental responsibilities is now a permanent item on the corporate agenda for most major companies. Awareness of the need for environmental monitoring and how to effectively address this need in a systematic, structured way is crucial to the success of setting and achieving measurable, quantifiable goals and targets.
This systematic collection and analysis of data, which is translated into readily accessible information, is key to achieving ongoing improvements in environmental performance. It enables RMC businesses worldwide to compare their approach to environmental management. It also allows management to prioritize actions where risks are perceived to be most significant and provides the Group with an overall assessment of its global risk management and impacts.
To take one specific area where RMC monitors environmental performance - energy. The Group has taken a proactive approach towards energy management issues and has developed its own Energy Efficiency Programme (EEP). Using an EEP not only improves environmental performance, it can also reduce operating costs and increase profitability - benefits which apply to businesses across all frontiers, irrespective of regulatory frameworks.
In September 2000 RMC undertook pilot energy audits in 13 RMC aggregates sites in Austria, Czech Republic and the USA using the expertise of UK-based international energy efficiency experts AEA Technology Environment. RMC identified potential savings of between 5% and 18% which could be achieved by implementing low cost and no cost measures alone. The pilot projects produced a 'hit list' of energy saving opportunities for each individual site, which allowed local management to develop an action plan. The pilot studies then benchmarked the collected energy data to identify the energy used per tonne of product (kWh/tonne), known as specific energy consumption (SEC). Both the SEC and cumulative sum (CUSUM) of the savings were then calculated and allocated to specific energy centres on site. RMC sees this combined approach as an essential step towards successfully implementing the Energy Management Programme.
The Energy Management Programme, which uses a series of techniques such as monitoring, targeting and benchmarking energy use, has three main components:-
- Direction and support from the International Environment Department (IED)
- The Energy Efficiency Information System (EEIS)
- The Energy Efficiency Resource Centre
The International Environment Department has been the driving force behind the development and roll-out of the Programme, encouraging all of the Group's aggregate businesses to reduce energy use and become involved in the initiative. Using data analysis techniques recommended by AEAT, the IED designed and built an intranet-based tool, the EEIS, a data collection and analysis system that is currently available in five languages. The system provides plant managers with information on how to monitor and control energy use and identifies energy savings opportunities. Managers use the EEIS to record and analyse energy data, inputting raw data on weekly energy consumption, energy costs and levels of production, together with site details, including the location of energy centres and meters.
The EEIS stores the data and calculates key performance indicators such as SEC for the whole site and for each energy centre. It also generates graphs to show the changes in these indicators over time. Once managers have collected the baseline data, the system then starts calculating and graphically displaying the cumulative sum of savings (CUSUM) in energy(kWh) and costs in local currency - again for the whole site and each energy centre. Managers can then easily prepare management reports, as well as exportable data spreadsheets for further analysis for any part of the site or time period.
The key to making the EEIS programme work is that it is relatively easy to operate and incorporate into existing working practices. Using EEIS, site managers can track and monitor energy consumption and the effects of introducing both technical and management solutions to reduce energy use. Managers throughout the Group can also exchange knowledge and expertise via the Energy Efficiency Resource Centre (EERC). Essentially a virtual library, the site provides web-based access through the RMC global intranet to a wide range of guidance on setting up an energy efficiency programme and to well-established tools and techniques for effectively managing energy. It also contains case studies from inside and outside RMC.
The value of monitoring environmental performance in this way is both measurable
and quantifiable. The Group can access, interpret and act on energy-related
information for individual countries, businesses, sites and product lines. In
time, it will help to highlight the relative position of each business on a
worldwide basis, providing the Group with a clear understanding of its global
performance. RMC Group is beginning to reap the benefits from both a reduction
in greenhouse gas emissions and growing economic savings.