Spokane Journal of Business

Sustainability professionals say challenges lie ahead

In Ecova survey, managers expect rising energy costs

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This year will be a challenging one for those responsible for managing energy and other resources for their organizations, says a report that Spokane-based energy and sustainability management company Ecova Inc. released last month.

Titled “2014 Energy and Sustainability Predictions: Findings from Leading Professionals,” the report includes findings from a survey of nearly 500 energy and sustainability professionals nationwide. 

Jeff Heggedahl, Ecova’s president and CEO, says in a press release, “These results are not surprising. The industry landscape is constantly evolving, and companies are facing unprecedented pressure to conserve resources, reduce costs, and disclose energy and resource performance. These challenges mean companies must take steps to improve results and build a total energy and sustainability management strategy if they want to remain competitive and meet the increasing needs for resource management.”

Nearly half of respondents said the top energy data priority for 2014 is to implement no-cost, low-cost efficiency efforts. Cost is by far the biggest influencer of energy and sustainability initiatives; however, 2014 will be complicated by anticipated increases in energy and resource prices.

Respondents said water will emerge as a top energy and sustainability initiative. An overwhelming majority of respondents, 70 percent, noted that rising water costs are a concern for 2014. Water also is viewed as the second greatest area with opportunity for savings and improvement, behind energy.

Also of concern, the survey says, are new benchmarking regulations that create an increasingly complex environment. Thirty percent of respondents are unaware if their buildings currently are required or will be required to comply with municipal- or state-level regulations. However, among the 38 percent of respondents who currently are required or expect to be required to comply with such regulations, about 85 percent feel prepared to respond.

Peer benchmarking represents an untapped opportunity, Ecova says. More than a quarter of respondents acknowledged they didn’t know how their facilities performed in comparison to peers, and an additional nearly half stated their buildings were performing only the same as or less efficiently than peers. This means that nearly 75 percent of respondents believe they have an opportunity to capture additional cost and energy savings compared to their current performance.

The Ecova 2014 Energy and Sustainability Predictions report was conducted by Ecova last November and December. 

The results are based on responses from more than 500 energy and sustainability professionals from a wide variety of organizations across the United States. The respondents represent a range of those involved with managing their company’s energy and sustainability efforts—executives, energy managers, directors and analysts—and were drawn from a wide range of company sizes.

Ecova is the largest nonregulated subsidiary of Spokane-based utility Avista Corp. Using insights based on consumption, cost, and carbon footprint data spanning thousands of utilities, hundreds of thousands of business sites, and millions of households, Ecova says it provides fully managed, technology-optimized methods of saving resources, which in turn increase returns.

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