In energy management the word ‘target’ has two distinct meanings. The first is the ‘aspirational’ target, usually set from on high without regard to practicability, to reduce consumption by x% within a certain time. It’s not a particularly smart approach. In fact in a large organisation it is almost guaranteed to fail, and here’s why. Top management sets a reduction target of x%. There being no easy, transparent and equitable way to do anything else, all departments adopt the same x% target and pass it down the chain to the lowest-tier managers. For some of them, x% is impossible to achieve so they fail. For others it will be achievable or even easy. They will save x% and then probably stop trying. Why would they over-achieve? They have other work to worry about and anyway we all know if we beat our target our managers will just give us a harder target next time. So take the roughly x% saved by the successful ones, blend this with the lower savings achieved by the first group, and you have an aggregate failure.
For me, achievability is key, and when I talk about a performance ‘target’ I mean just maintaining the best performance you can demonstrably achieve. In other words, avoid accidental excess consumption (see next article). This may not be ambitious but it is worth doing; using regression or other modelling methods supported by cusum analysis it is possible to ensure that everything has its own achievable performance characteristic. The word ‘achievable’ is crucial: it’s much more likely to get buy-in than the megaphone-management targeting that I described earlier.
I said achievable ‘characteristic’ because my concept of a target differs from common understanding in another important respect. My ‘target’ is not expressed as an annual kWh figure, nor indeed as a performance indicator, but in terms of an expected consumption quantity dynamically linked to relevant driving factors, meaning that you can track performance at whatever interval you want.