Hiring a chief utility officer could save firms millions

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An average business wastes 30% of the energy it consumes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 
Writing for Harvard Business Review, Jimmy Jia, who leads the Sustainable Energy Solutions Certificate at Pinchot University, WA, argues that one solution is to appoint a chief utility officer (CUO).
 
Jia believes that company management is not currently structured to treat energy as a critical resource, as opposed to an expense, despite it being patently obvious that that's what it is.
A CUO, therefore, would centralise decision making around utilities and rethink its role to support strategic corporate goals. That's because the role of a CUO revolves around cutting costly inefficiencies, working out how to use energy to deliver business outcomes, and then rolling out these approaches.
 
Jia acknowledges that managing utilities has become more complex due the raft of new technologies that demand a firm's attention. However, a CUO would have a knowledge and understanding of the different energy innovations and be able to make smart purchasing decisions.
 
Not only that, but a CUO would also take the lead on hiring, training and leading a cross-functional team responsible for creating energy policies and procedures that are aligned with the organisation's goals.
 
Their knowledge would also help empower other departments to understand how their energy use impacts the company, leading to a cut down on waste, a reduction in energy costs and a better looking bottom line.
 
Jia suggests that the director of facilities could be a good candidate for - or even evolve into - the CUO role, noting how a similar transition happened decades ago when the director of IT evolved into the CIO role.
 
Appointing a CUO is just one solution to stop wasting valuable resources, but the key is to streamline the process of managing utilities and centralise decision-making authority and oversight, Jia concludes.
 
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