Energy efficiency: EP100 hails one billion tonnes of corporate carbon savings

Initiative that invites businesses to double their energy productivity reveals huge scale of emissions and energy cost savings already being realised

A group of just 33 businesses have delivered carbon emissions savings totalling one billion metric tons in recent years – more than three times the annual emissions of the UK – thanks to investment in energy efficiency measures.

That is the headline finding from today’s annual report from the EP100 initiative, the Climate Group backed campaign that invites business to publicly commit to doubling their energy productivity (EP) through smart energy efficiency improvements.

According to the report, members of EP100 – which operates alongside the RE100 and EV100 programmes that are focused on renewable energy sourcing and electric vehicle fleets, respectively – delivered emissions savings totalling 360 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. The annual savings are comparable to taking 77 million cars off the road for a year.

The report also stresses that the deployment of energy efficiency measures through the programme is “good news for business in a very difficult year”, having delivered $200m of annual cost savings for the 22 members able to calculate their financial savings.

However, despite the encouraging progress Helen Clarkson, CEO at the Climate Group, warned the cohort of companies committed to delivering energy efficiency savings needed to expand.

“Energy efficiency has been vital to the economy ever since the oil crisis of the 1970s,” she said. “But as we face today’s climate challenge some 50 years later, we’re failing to act fast enough – as well as racking up greenhouse gas emissions, we’re missing out on clean growth opportunities and jobs.”

She stressed there was now ample evidence that investments in energy efficiency measures can deliver significant environmental and financial returns. “By moving quickly to stop energy waste, [leading companies] are cutting carbon and boosting the bottom line,” she said. “Now, to help drive the green recovery, we need businesses everywhere to do the same and governments to further incentivise them to do so.”

Clay Nesler, interim president at the Alliance to Save Energy, which also supports the EP100 initiative, said “energy efficiency has proven to be the most effective tool we have to quickly cut emissions and deliver 40 per cent of the reductions needed to meet Paris Agreement targets”.

“Governments around the world are showing a strong appetite for a green recovery and the science says there’s no time to lose; we must act on efficiency now,” he added. “At the same time, saving energy saves money – more critical than ever due to the pandemic’s economic impacts. Businesses have even more motivation to double down on energy efficiency, and from changing the lights in offices to cooling efficiency upgrades in manufacturing facilities, we’re thrilled to see EP100 members leading the way.”

The annual report confirms that to date the 33 members of the group have on average achieved 60 per cent of their EP100 goals, delivering improvements in their energy productivity at a rate of 6.1 per cent a year.

Three in four members are said to be ahead of schedule for meeting their targets, while Swiss Re, UltraTech Cement, and Woolworths Holdings have already met their goals.

Swiss Re said it had reached its EP100 goal five years ahead of schedule after committing to double energy productivity by 2020 against a 2005, but still managed to deliver a 16 per cent improvement last year.

The savings were largely achieved through investments in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) improvements, digitisation, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting upgrades, and employee engagement initiatives. The measures helped the company avoid 540,000 metric tons of CO2e to date and it now expects to generate financial savings of over $450,000 from just three of its projects.

Savings are also being realised by industrial firms with Saudi Arabia’s Yanbu Cement Company reporting that it has been able to avoid 1.5 million metric tons of CO2e to date and saving $5m a year through the use of a mobile software system that has digitised its energy monitoring and the installation of waste heat to power technologies.

The company is now working to meet a target to a 30 per cent improvement in energy productivity by 2025 against a 2010 baseline.

“Now and in the years ahead, the private sector has an important role to play in reducing emissions from carbon intensive sectors like cement,” said Amr Nader, chief strategy, performance and industrial operations officer at the company. “Putting a focus on operational excellence has substantially increased our productivity and the commercial returns are very attractive – energy efficiency makes business sense.”

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