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Will Covid-19 accelerate the trend towards clean energy?

With everyone binging on Netflix, or enjoying their gardens safely at home during months of confinement, we revelled in the clean air and return of wildlife. Many wondered if we could keep it that way.

Studies show that energy demand in 2020 could be 6% less than 2019, making the impact of Covid-19 on the energy sector 7 times larger than the impact of the global economic crisis in 2008, according to a report published by the International Energy Agency in April 2020.  And, CO2 emissions in 2020 could be 8% lower than in 2019, bringing us closer to levels recorded 10 years ago. Thanks to declining demand came declining emissions - and fresher air.

Recoveries from previous crises have seen an immediate rebound in CO2 emissions, but maybe this time it will be different…

Despite the decline in energy demand, renewable energy has been the most resilient and even seen a slight increase in demand, which implies greater transitions to clean energy.  57% of 2,500 companies surveyed plan to increase their spend on sustainability and some 63% are looking at updating their buildings and equipment to improve their environmental credentials, which includes of course, their use of energy, according to HSBC’s 2019 Made for the Future Report.

Consumer sentiment is driving the trend

While many often feel that larger systemic changes or governmental mandates are needed, in fact, consumer demand - the car you buy and the energy company you choose - makes a big difference. This trend towards clean energy is being driven by a number of factors, including both consumer and employee expectations. Consumers are increasingly interested in companies that demonstrate consideration for sustainability and social impact; and the labour market is the same with Gen Z and Millennials choosing to work for companies that exhibit a social conscience.  Your talent pool choices grow as you demonstrate and voice the environmental changes your company makes.

However, the benefits for those future-thinking companies go beyond reputation and can also impact investment choices, improve operational efficiency and deliver significant savings that can be re-invested in growth-related activities.

Financially, for many businesses, a 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales, according to the Carbon Trust.

Improve your bottom line, your reputation, AND your employee quality of life

In this post-shutdown world, with many businesses financially impacted by the crisis and looking to earn the trust and loyalty of their customer and employee base, now is the time to review energy use and make some strategic decisions that will have long-term benefits.

Imagine what your company could do with hundreds of thousands euros/dollars more

Sodexo clients achieved these results recently with the help of our global energy management services.  Some changes are well known and range from simple (changing lights to LED) to the complex (building a solar panel farm), but Sodexo’s expertise helped these clients identify cost savings in unusual places.  (Client names are not listed to respect their privacy.)

  • Smart HVAC systems

Global Technology Client – Annual Savings: €200,000 - Annual Carbon Savings: 400 tonnes
By correctly maintaining the building management system (BMS) so that HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) assets and temperature/time settings are optimised and maintained, you significantly eliminate energy waste and make everyone more comfortable in the process.

  • Replacing inefficient lighting

North American Educational Client – Annual Savings: €200,000 - Annual carbon savings: 8300 tonnes
Replacing older, inefficient fluorescent lighting with LED lighting improves light output (LUX) levels.  And because each LED lasts longer, companies experience cost savings on energy and maintenance.

  • New HVAC components

Global Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) client (R&D site) - Annual savings €40,000 – Annual carbon savings: 190 tonnes
Bluemaxx is an innovative system additive which removes oil foiling within HVAC assets, improving efficiency and extending lifecycles

  • On-site solar photovoltaics

Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA) FMCG client (Production site) - 25 year savings: €3 million – annual carbon savings: 600 tonnes
Solar panels generate clean, on-site, renewable energy at a lower cost than grid-supplied electricity.  While the lifetime savings are astounding, the annual savings are hefty too: €120,000/year

  • Energy procurement

UK Hospital - Annual savings: €206,000
Using Sodexo’s expertise and buying power can produce significant savings by securing more competitive energy contracts from utility providers.

Sodexo’s global energy management team helps our clients reduce their CO2 emissions, improve the efficiency of their buildings and drive meaningful cost savings. Through our services, we provide consultancy, help companies achieve regulatory compliance, optimise current energy consumption, while delivering turnkey energy solutions and technologies.

Our three most recent energy projects, alone, have delivered over €1m of client savings across the next five years, along with meaningful carbon savings and associated quality of life benefits. So, by taking some simple steps, companies can support their shift to clean energy.

This clean energy shift can help recoup some of the breath-taking financial loss of the COVID-19 shutdown, while helping preserve one of the most surprising results …fresh, pure air.  We can all get behind that.

 

Learn more about saving your company money and aligning with environmental values with Sodexo FM services :

FM Energy Management

October 21, 2020

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