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Schneider Electric 2020 demonstrates energy and sustainability success

  • Energy management increasingly important as a strategic lever in highly volatile, disruptive environment
  • New innovations in technology simplify data management for complex energy management projects
  • Tackling climate change becomes a critical part of energy investments as organisations pursue long-term sustainability
Schneider Electric has released its 2020 Corporate Energy & Sustainability Progress Report.

The report, the third in an annual series, examines how organisations are addressing the opportunities and challenges presented by a changing energy landscape focused on enterprise energy management and decarbonisation. The report explores how energy management has become a critical part of an integrated sustainability strategy, the increase in the use of digital data tools, and the rise of climate change as a focus for energy and resource supply.

The report is based on a survey completed in partnership with GreenBiz Research, of 265 global professionals responsible for energy and sustainability at organisations with more than $250 million in annual revenue.

Energy managers step up

In 2020, business leaders are recognising energy managers as an integral part of their business operations, with 87 per cent of respondents agreeing that energy procurement is increasing in its scope and complexity. This has led to changes in the way organisations approach energy management; 56 per cent of respondents now employ dedicated energy management staff. With a growing number of different energy sources, financial mechanisms and technological developments to manage, in an increasingly volatile environment, organisations require expertise to advise on money-saving best practices and strategies.

Related findings include: 

  • In 2019’s report, only 29 per cent of respondents’ companies cited strategic energy sourcing as a top initiative for cost savings, but this year 46.5 per cent noted that timing and pricing volatility is the single biggest challenge.
  • Sixty per cent of respondents are considering onsite or offsite renewables as a purchasing strategy in the next three years to manage volatility, with 30 per cent of respondents already deploying renewables. 
  • More than 46 per cent of respondents are prepared to respond to future innovations in energy management.
  • Executive buy-in is the most important driver for getting new energy and sustainability programs approved and funded according to 84 per cent of respondents.

“Energy and resource management has moved past the payment of utility bills and become a strategic way for organizations to mitigate financial and reputational risks,” said Bill Brewer, VP of Global Energy & Sustainability Services at Schneider Electric. “The landscape is evolving rapidly and if businesses want to remain competitive, they will need to implement strategies that demonstrate a clear understanding of where energy management is heading.”

Digital technology eases complexity

The overwhelming amount of energy and sustainability data available can be complicated to navigate and difficult to manage. But over the past year, more businesses have been investing in digital technologies to ease this complexity, with double the number of respondents (37 per cent) from last year reporting that they use IoT devices such as meters, sensors, and other smart assets. Investing in these technologies is having a positive impact on organisations, with 63 per cent of respondents with digital solutions reporting higher confidence in preparedness for innovations in resource management. 

The research also shows that energy and resource management strategies are evolving based on new data technologies, with 48 per cent reporting that they are adapting their energy or sustainability data management programs based on growth in connected devices and 24 pe rcent saying the same about growth in artificial intelligence.

Although 54 per cent of respondents reported they are still managing their data using spreadsheets, the benefits of investing in digital solutions are clear.

Prioritising climate change

Mitigating and adapting to climate change and global warming, rapid decarbonisation, and other climate-related initiatives make up a much larger focus of business operations than ever before. The research showed that environmental considerations are a top driver for corporate energy and sustainability initiatives (51.5 per cent), and that climate change is the top risk to energy and resource supply (58 per cent). Executive leadership is beginning to understand the benefits of addressing climate change, including reputational advantage with stakeholders, new products and services, and the potential to benefit from environmental investing.

Other climate related statistics show: 

  • Public perception is a driving factor for sustainable energy investment with brand/reputation (50%) and competitive advantage (47%) top of mind. 
  • Seventy per cent of this year’s respondents report that they have set energy or sustainability targets and announced them publicly, compared to just 57 per cent in the 2019 report.
  • Seventy-five per cent of respondents say that they have increased goals over those previously set, and those that have increased goals are more confident they will meet them.
  • Thirty per cent of responding CEOs indicated that they strongly agree that their organisation’s response to climate change will be advantageous to their business.

“Climate change has taken centre stage for any global business,said an anonymous survey respondent. “Stakeholders from investors to consumers are keeping a close eye on how organisations are doing their part to reduce carbon emission and commit to sustainable energy stewardship and it’s imperative businesses start thinking about their plans to contribute, if they have not already.”

The Corporate Energy & Sustainability Progress Report was developed to understand how large organisations purchase energy, manage resource demand, use data, and develop, finance, and execute enterprise efficiency and decarbonisation programs. The findings in the report come from a web survey and phone interviews conducted by GreenBiz Research. Participants included 265 global energy and sustainability professionals who oversee procurement, operations and sustainability, from board members to individual contributors. Companies surveyed represent 17 industry segments and reported minimum annual revenues of $250 million.

For more information and to download the full report, visit or join the live webinar, June 25, at 10:00 am EDT.

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