Strategic energy management (SEM) programs have long helped energy-intensive industrial and commercial businesses reduce their electricity and gas costs. Now these programs could be expanded and tailored to maximize their impact on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A new ACEEE white paper explores how SEM can support decarbonization efforts and provides strategies that policymakers and practitioners can use to broaden the scope of these programs to better meet today’s GHG emission reduction goals.
SEM is a set of organizational practices and principles that creates the foundation for continuous, long-term energy savings. SEM programs—primarily funded and delivered by utilities—focus on operational energy savings, rather than installing new technologies or infrastructure that require major capital investments. These programs range from helping companies achieve minor efficiency changes (e.g., leak detection) to meeting or exceeding the requirements of the ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard.
SEM programs have helped save energy for decades. Now they should focus on reducing emissions.
States will have to dramatically step up their efforts to enable a full transition to electric cars, trucks, and buses, a new ACEEE report finds. Read more…
The traditional SEM approach focuses on avoided energy consumption, meaning the electricity, gas, or other energy resource savings that result from behavioral, operational, and efficiency measures. It was not designed for tracking or reducing carbon emissions.
While these low- to no-cost programs are appealing for their energy reduction potential (participants often realize a 2–10% energy consumption reduction in their first year), many companies are now also eager to adopt practices and solutions to help meet ambitious GHG reduction targets. Developing SEM programs that could also work with customers to identify and apply decarbonization strategies such as electrification, demand response, or on-site renewables would help them achieve those goals.
How Can SEM Programs Drive Carbon Reduction?
Maximizing emissions reductions is more complex than reducing energy consumption, but strategic energy management is well positioned to support carbon reduction, thanks to its focus on goal setting, benchmarking, and organizational capacity building…
To learn more about how SEM can support decarbonization efforts, read the rest of this blog post on the ACEEE website.
A Research Assistant with ACEEE’s Industry Program, Jonah Eisen assists ACEEE’s industry team in researching a wide array of technologies, policies, and clean energy pathways that help reduce energy intensity and GHG emissions in the manufacturing sector. He joined ACEEE in 2022. Jonah holds a bachelor of arts in environmental studies from UCLA.