childHeightDocEnergy managers: you may not be as mature as you think you are.

No, I’m not talking about fighting on the playground, or slipping a grasshopper into Marie’s lunchbox. I’m referring to the current state of your energy information systems.

No, not your building control systems–although those can be very important. How mature are you when it comes to handling your energy data?

It’s a well-recognized principle that successful energy management activities must be based on the broad and solid foundation of energy information. Need proof? Take a look at the burgeoning popularity of building ENERGY STAR ratings (30 billion square feet of commercial building space now being tracked in the U.S.) or the expanding number of cities and states that have actually legislated mandatory energy benchmarking. Those ratings are all built around energy information.

At the heart of every ENERGY STAR rating and virtually every building benchmark is ... the lowly utility bill. Some might call this the primordial microbe of energy management. If this "link" is "missing", your energy management program may never evolve.

Utility bills represent a hidden treasure of potential energy savings. They contain valuable data, conveniently prepared and delivered to your door for “free” by your utility vendors month after month. Treat them right and you can derive value from them in many ways.

maturity-graphicBut too many organizations (with or without an energy manager) are “immature” when it comes to utility bill management. They need to grow up and become more sophisticated, wise and resourceful. We’ve created a helpful graphic that illustrates organizational evolution in utility bill management from the least to most mature. We call it our Utility Bill Processing Maturity Model. There are nine levels in this model. At the bottom is the "Get the bill-Pay the bill" accounting-driven approach, where energy information is almost entirely neglected. At the top is a fully integrated energy tracking system including a comprehensive historical database with comprehensive audit capabilities, analytics and report generation. There are tools for measurement and verification of energy savings/projects, an accounting interface for seamless workflow, cost avoidance, budgeting, procurement aids, processes for deregulated bill management, chargebacks/cost allocation, interval data, and more.

Individual milestones of achievement may not fall as neatly in the maturity model for some organizations as they will in others, but I think you’ll be enlightened as you assess just how far along the maturity continuum your organization has progressed.

So here's a challenge: Download the Utility Bill Processing Maturity Model. Then assess your organizational maturity level using the model. Finally, set a goal to move your maturity level up at least one or two notches each year until you can stand proudly at the top!

Now can someone tell me who put the frog in my backpack?

Download the Utility Bill Processing Maturity Model.

About The Author
Steve is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of EnergyCAP, Inc. He is a Professional Engineer and Certified Energy Manager with more than 35 years of professional experience in energy accounting software and mechanical and architectural engineering. In recognition of his accomplishments, Steve was named the 2013 International Energy Engineer of the Year by the Association of Energy Engineers.
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