Conference and Report to Spotlight Leading Corporate Energy Efficiency Strategies

Dow Chemical has saved about $8.6 billion in energy costs since 1994. IBM overachieved on a 3.5 percent annual energy savings target, instead hitting 6.1 percent in 2008, saving millions of dollars in the process. And United Technologies Corporation met an original 25 percent energy efficiency target five years ahead of schedule, reset the target to 40 percent, and blew past it to achieve a 56 percent efficiency improvement by 2006.

How did these companies do it? What lessons can we draw from their extraordinary efforts? Can their successes be replicated across the broader economy?

These questions form the basis of our ongoing research project on corporate energy efficiency strategies. Findings from the study, titled “From Shop Floor to Top Floor: Best Business Practices in Energy Efficiency,” will be released April 6, 2010, at the start of a two-day conference in Chicago. The conference offers an unprecedented opportunity to hear directly from dozens of business executives who have successfully guided their companies to world-class energy savings. Registration is open now; don’t miss the opportunity to sign up for the special early bird rate of $600 for the two-day conference. Keynote speakers and panelists will be announced in the coming weeks. Also check out the conference ad in the Nov. 12 edition of The New York Times.

Different companies have different perspectives on how to approach and execute energy efficiency strategies. The beauty of the conference is that it will allow these different perspectives to be shared, analyzed, and discussed among a community of leading experts. While individual corporate approaches will vary, our research has identified some common attributes that high performing companies share, including:

  • Efficiency is a core strategy, and not just another sustainability “box” to check
  • Leadership and organizational support is real and sustained, all the way up to the CEO
  • The company sets ambitious energy savings goals, and has a clear plan for how to meet them
  • The strategy runs on a robust tracking and performance measurement system that allows decision makers to quickly identify problem areas and take corrective action
  • The organization puts substantial and sustained resources into efficiency
  • The energy efficiency strategy shows demonstrated results, meeting or beating prescribed energy savings targets
  • The company communicates energy efficiency results as part of the core “stories” the company tells

The report will provide greater depth and discussion of how these principles translate into practice, and the conference will provide a forum for companies to discuss their experiences with one another. Following the conference, we will organize a series of additional outreach activities, including briefings, regional workshops, and webinars. It has already shared preliminary findings at a number of conferences, including the recent Corporate Energy Management Summit in Chicago. Please check our web portal to view some of our preliminary findings and for news on upcoming events.

One of the key messages our of research is that leading companies are making enormous strides in energy efficiency and reaping significant financial benefits in the process. The underlying goal of the report and conference is to shine a light on how these companies did it and transmit lessons learned that other businesses can use to strengthen their own efficiency programs. 

Andre de Fontaine is a Markets and Business Strategy Fellow