Making your energy management more sustainable

Making your energy management more sustainable

To reduce their environmental footprint, companies need to completely rethink their energy management. That brings challenges. But by taking a few small steps, they can soon achieve great results.

Towards a climate-neutral continent

Around 75% of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions derive from energy production and consumption. This makes energy an inevitable focus in Europe's ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. In the interim, the aim is that by 2030, emissions should be 55% lower than in 1990.

This is no easy task, because as the climate warms, we risk falling into a vicious circle where energy consumption increases due to factors such as increasing use of cooling systems. If we continue to rely on grey energy, emissions and subsequently temperatures will only continue to rise. The deadline to meet climate targets is coming closer. There is no time to procrastinate. The sea change we need to bring about as a society is huge. Companies have an important role to play in this. If there is not yet a direct impact on costs, it is tempting for them to adopt a wait and see approach. However, regulatory pressure will continue to grow. Businesses can for example wait until they are forced to invest in energy-saving measures to avoid fines. Or they can make the transition at their own pace towards becoming a sustainable business with a reduced environmental footprint. The latter course offers the best guarantee of survival.

Katrien Brouwers, Business Innovation Manager Energy at KBC

Environmental footprint

This realisation is also slowly spreading among businesses. ‘Among big energy consumers, energy is a major cost item. These companies are very concerned about their energy management. This is a less pressing issue for the average SME, because energy is not such a major factor in their day-to-day operations,’ says Iwan Barrez, Sustainability Manager at KBC.

‘Yet they too are feeling the pressure increasing, as customers ask more questions about their environmental footprint and they are required to report on it. As a result, energy consumption will become a major concern for every business in the future.’

Evolving energy market

We are currently moving towards an integrated, connected and digitalised European energy market. Just as data is no longer stored centrally in large centralised mainframes, but floating around in the cloud at many different locations, so the energy market is also moving towards a model where production is no longer centralised. Both individuals and businesses will generate much more of their own renewable energy. As a result, energy production will fluctuate more and will have to be well matched to the energy demand at any given time. Digital applications and the 'Internet of Things' will streamline and simplify that process.

Energy transition roadmap

‘The first step for a company is to be completely convinced itself of the importance of the energy transition. Then comes the practical implementation, which is different for each company,’ says Bert Derudder, Senior Manager Project Finance Renewable Energy at KBC. For most companies, energy is not their core business. They really need guidance on what they need to do.

‘KBC encourages its corporate customers to make their energy management more sustainable. Right from the start of an energy project, we look to be a sounding board, help the business on its journey and put it in touch with parties that can also play a role in the envisaged transition,’ says Freddy Van Bogget, Innovation Manager at KBC. ‘In the next phase, we might provide financing, for example in the form of a loan or credit with support from the European Investment Bank.’

Scaling back energy consumption


For companies looking to cut back on their energy consumption, the first step is to map their existing consumption. KBC Corporate Banking's clients can turn to the  Encon consultancy for this.. Among other things, this partner of KBC can help with:

  1. Estimating a company's carbon footprint
  2. Assisting in drafting a sustainability strategy
  3. Providing advice on energy consumption, energy efficiency and renewable energy

Based on an analysis of energy consumption, Encon will propose a number of measures. Some of these interventions will be relatively easy and will have an immediate impact on energy consumption. They can include such things as:

  • Replacing traditional lighting with LED lighting
  • Avoiding standby consumption of electrical appliances
  • Switching off the heating over the weekend
  • Replacing old cooling systems

Next, renewable energy generation is also an important link in the roadmap.‘On that front, the shift towards electric company cars - which is now in full swing - poses an energy challenge. Because, of course, you have to charge all those cars. This is best done using renewable energy,’ says Iwan Barrez, Sustainability Manager at KBC.

Don't sit on the sidelines

The important thing is that companies do not sit back and do nothing, but take the first steps towards sustainable energy management. Some businesses will find that solutions do not yet exist for certain problems. For example, current battery technology is not yet sufficiently developed to enable heavy freight transport to be electrified in the short term. And the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel for trucks is also still at a very early stage. So for transport companies, making their vehicle fleet greener is not straightforward, although their customers are also stepping up the pressure for them to become more sustainable.

But while transport companies cannot switch to green alternatives for powering their trucks overnight, they can take other measures now. ‘Fuel consumption can be reduced by working on drivers' driving behaviour or by optimising tyre pressure, for example. This illustrates the fact that even relatively small measures can enable companies to contribute step by step to the transition to a sustainable and more energy-efficient society,’ concludes Iwan Barrez.

Sustainability in practice: Fruitsnacks

It is only logical to be respectful of nature.

Fruitsnacks pioneered fruit deliveries at work in Belgium. The company distributes between 5 000 and 6000 fruit packs to 2 500 different companies every week. All the packs are put together at Fruitsnacks. We grow our own apples and pears, and buy in the other fruit. ‘As a fruit grower, we are completely dependent on nature. It is only logical that we treat nature with respect and keep our environmental footprint as small as possible,’ says Roel Paesmans, son of the business manager and operations manager.

The company has been trying to keep its energy consumption as low as possible for several years. Solar panels were installed on the roof in 2007. But it has also gone further. ‘It’s easy to put solar panels on your roof. But that doesn’t go nearly far enough for us,’ says business manager Karel Paesmans. Therefore, the old cooling plant was replaced by an ammonia-based cooling plant. This is much more environmentally friendly and also more energy-efficient than an installation using liquid freon. ‘By making that switch, we have already reduced our CO2 emissions by 41 tonnes,’ says Karel Paesmans.

In addition to the solar panels already generating power, another wind turbine with a capacity of 95 kilowatts will soon be added. ‘The big advantage of a wind turbine is that it generates power even in bad weather. This will make our warehouse completely energy-neutral. In fact, we will actually generate more energy than we consume,’ says Karel Paesmans.

KBC expressly points out that the use of terms such as 'green' and 'sustainable' on this webpage in no way suggests that what is described is already (fully) in line with the EU Taxonomy.