Calling all CEOs: Why energy efficiency matters

By Gordon Hicks

Being a business leader will always mean juggling priorities.


It's tempting to put most of your focus on your core business and quarterly results alone. But for me, every leader should also be constantly looking ahead to what's next, and what they can do to future-proof their organization.

As leaders, we're responsible not just for the financial health of our organizations, but for the people we employ. And by making energy efficiency a priority, you're setting up your organization for success, not only in the short term, but for years to come.

At BGIS, we take this to heart with the facilities we manage. We have a team of 80 energy management professionals who work with facility managers at the properties in our portfolio to uncover opportunities for energy savings. We're continually improving energy efficiency through LED lighting retrofits, new ultra high-efficiency rooftop equipment for better HVAC systems, and even on-site renewable energy projects, like geothermal and solar.

So why do we do all of this?

The numbers add up


We all care about the bottom line. Put simply, the return on investment for energy efficiency can be significant. In most cases I've seen, there's just a two-to three-year payback period on energy-related projects. Ultimately, we've been able to save an astounding 20 million kWh in energy, but also more than $3 million through Save on Energy incentives, which makes the case for energy efficiency investment even stronger.


In addition to energy savings, though, there are also operational savings. Becoming more energy efficient often means less equipment maintenance and downtime overall. Take high-efficiency rooftop units as an example. By planning ahead, we can replace equipment for 20 per cent less than we would if it were an emergency replacement.

With some of our retail properties, we've also implemented smart controls, so we can maintain systems remotely and get a better ongoing picture of how they're performing, reducing our need for technical labour.

But let me be clear: the ROI goes beyond financial savings alone.


The ROI is much broader than you think


When you have a premises that's operating efficiently, so many other elements of your business improve too, from customer satisfaction to occupant comfort to productivity.

What's more, investing in energy efficiency and innovative projects at just one organization can have a positive ripple effect on other industries. At BGIS, for example, our building improvements are also focused on meeting the needs of an evolving transportation sector. By integrating electric vehicle charging stations on some of our premises, we can support not only the people who use our buildings, but another growing and innovative industry.


Efficiency matters to your employees, too


I've also seen first-hand that energy efficiency can prompt employees to become more engaged and can truly transform a culture. Our employees tell us frequently that they're proud to work for a company that values energy efficiency. That also comes through in our annual employee survey, which asks about satisfaction in a number of areas, including social responsibility.

Our teams also actively make suggestions for how to improve energy efficiency through our continual improvement inbox. To me, that speaks to the power of energy efficiency to engage people from all corners of an organization.

When employees see their employer investing in energy efficiency initiatives, they see an employer that is socially responsible and takes steps to move their business forward.


Energy efficiency makes you a company for the future


That brings me to another point. Investing in energy efficiency is a signal to potential employees and to the community that your organization is here to stay.

I know from experience that consumers, especially the next generation, are savvy and more willing to support organizations that are forward-looking and innovative. When they see LED lighting, certifications like LEED or investments like EV charging stations or solar technology, they know it speaks to the values of that organization, and that it plans to stick around for the long term.

Getting started isn't hard. The financial and educational resources are available at your fingertips – but you must first recognize that energy efficiency has the potential to transform your business for the better and commit to making it a priority.


Find available programs and incentives for your business.