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Utility Data – The Key to Sustainability Management

Recently, we wrote about sustainability management, what it is, and why it’s important for your company.  To recap, sustainability management is the synthesis of sustainability and management. It applies sustainable practices to businesses, agriculture, facilities, and communities. The goal is to lower emissions and energy use, encourage growth, and ensure the availability of resources for future generations. Sustainability management looks beyond short-term profits and focuses on long-term gain by incorporating the environmental and social costs of doing business into management decisions.

That said, before you go about implementing sustainability management at your company, it’s important to have a way to measure where your company is in terms of emissions and energy use. That’s where utility data comes in. Not only can utility data give you a picture of how your company is currently operating, it can help you measure and verify the impact of your sustainability management program once it is up and running.

Let’s take a deeper dive into what utility data is, how you can acquire it, and how it can assist you in your sustainability management efforts.

What is Utility Data?

Utility data is the numeric value of the amount of water, energy, and electricity your building or facility uses. It tells you how much of each commodity you are using, including spend, usage, and emissions. As you may have guessed, high numbers are bad – they indicate more money spent on utility bills and higher emissions.

How is Utility Data Acquired?

There are many different methods for acquiring utility data. First, your utility company/energy supplier issues you a bill or invoice. This includes your utility costs for the month as well as the amount of each utility you used. You can choose to receive paper or electronic bills/invoices or have your data sent to a third-party platform (like EnergyWatch’s WatchWire) which consolidates your invoices in one convenient location.

The drawback of waiting for your utility bill to get utility data is that you will not be alerted to any unusual changes in energy use until the bill arrives. Real-time and interval data provides you with utility data in either a continuous stream or 5 to 60-minute intervals. This allows you to monitor your energy use around the clock so you can quickly detect any problems.

Utility Data and Sustainability Management

When it comes to sustainability management, utility data is invaluable. A big part of sustainability management is lowering emissions and energy use, and this is done by monitoring usage trends and implementing efficiency projects, e.g., energy efficient lighting, new HVAC systems, or new windows. Utility data can let you know if you need to implement an efficiency project (if your utility bills are excessively high, it’s likely a sign of inefficiency in your building systems.) Utility data can also reveal if said efficiency projects are working or not (if utility bills decrease post implementation, that’s a good sign).

Remember, without reliable, up-to-date utility data, you’re basically flying blind into sustainability management. After all, you can’t manage what you haven’t measured.

How EnergyWatch Can Assist with Utility Data Management

EnergyWatch’s utility bill and sustainability management software, WatchWire, automatically acquires utility invoices from utilities and ESCOs so you no longer need to manually extract and track data.  We capture each and every line item from an invoice, and our rules categorize these line items into their respective component buckets.

Reports can be generated specific to certain line items, while our measurement and verification module uses the component breakdown to accurately calculate true marginal cost savings due to efficiency projects (rather than simple average unit cost, which is incorrect and potentially misleading).  All invoice images are captured and accessible via the platform, and invoice images can be downloaded individually and in bulk from our reporting section, rather than just one-by-one. WatchWire also offers real-time and interval data monitoring, allowing you to track your energy use as often as you like.

In addition, WatchWire integrates with most sustainability reporting frameworks (GRESB, LEED Arc, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, etc.), allowing you to streamline your sustainability reporting process.

To learn more about WatchWire, download our detailed Solution Brief. Or, to learn about sustainability reporting/management more in depth, download our e-book, “Utilizing Sustainability Reporting in the Journey Towards Net Zero.”