Episode 56 – Paul Baier of Groom Energy Talks Enterprise Energy Reduction

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In Episode 56 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 31, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons speaks with Paul Baier, Vice President of Sustainability Consulting at Groom Energy.  Paul assists the company’s customers with their sustainability and energy reduction strategies, carbon footprint and responses to supply chain surveys.

Paul Baier of Groom Energy

In addition, Paul authors a sustainability blog called Practical Sustainability and moderates EnterpriseSmartGrid.org.  He is a senior contributor and VERGE Global Advisory Board member for Greenbiz.com and is the primary author of a report on large enterprise smart grid and energy management software called “The 2011 Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) Software Market: A Buyer’s Guide.”  Paul sits at the forefront of issues related to large scale energy use by major organizations.

Dick and Paul discuss how large companies grapple with energy management and reduction – not an easy task.  These companies face many challenging when it comes to energy and carbon measuring, management and reporting.  First, they have to figure out what to track, then how.  Most are responding to regulatory demands, need for better cost savings and what Paul refers to as “consumer compliance.”

Often the first step is trying to put their arms around what energy use really means in their business.  Some companies are surprised that, in addition to improving their sustainability footprint, they can save significant amounts of money by implementing energy management initiatives.  Once they realize that, most are prepared to put significant resources to the task.   For many manufacturers and distributors, powerful companies like Walmart put pressure on them to complete rigorous supplier surveys to explain their strategies and results. 

For single-facility operations it’s hard enough, but many of these suppliers have facilities around the globe, each with different standards, measurement systems, accounting systems and processes for collecting and tracking the information ultimately needed to institute a company-wide program.   Paul helps these companies manage this complex process.  

Helping companies to identify direct effect, indirect effect, and the overall impact in supply chain (Scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3), Paul observes that companies are becoming more sophisticated in identifying the hidden impacts of the entire supply chain. 

Management people have been trying to anticipate cap and trade, carbon tracking, and what will happen as AB32 (in California) and other legislation dictates change for their industries.

As Paul says,

“Energy management is the flip side of carbon management.”

Paul and Dick discuss the types of providers who are stepping into the marketplace and the kinds of risks that various vertical markets must address in their forecasting models. The technologies being developed today will allow greater and greater precision and flexibility in tracking both the carbon footprint and the energy management of our major industries.  And with the rise of cloud computing, the storage and processing options continue to become more affordable for even smaller companies.  Paul suggests that because of the software, data storage and other advancements in recent years, precision energy management is no longer a technical problem, it’s a “willingness problem.”

Certainly the regulatory environmental, as well as consumer demand will continue to influence the willingness of companies to address these issues in significant ways.