By: Shira Weintraub
The push for organizations to improve their sustainability is rapidly accelerating
Global economic policy has recently taken a strong stance on the need to transition to a low-carbon economy, as evidenced by COP21’s landmark climate accord. It is clear that the era of carbon reduction has arrived and that sustainability is becoming an increasingly influential business dynamic.
With energy costs, government regulations, and stakeholder scrutiny all on the rise, companies around the world are beginning to take a more strategic approach to managing and reducing their environmental impacts. As a result, energy and sustainability management initiatives are climbing the priority stacks of many organizations. More companies are actively engaging in sustainability activities to drive cost savings, improve customer perception, attract new talent, and more.
Data is the key piece to the sustainability puzzle
When businesses first approach sustainability management and reporting, they define the questions that they need answered. For example, a company may need to know the average number of kilowatt-hours each square footage of building space consumes or the energy cost associated with producing a certain quantity of a specific product. The first step to finding these answers, which enable a company to understand and then reduce its sustainability impacts, is to gather the relevant data. Unfortunately, collecting accurate and timely sustainability data at scale is actually the biggest roadblock that companies and organizations face today in managing and reporting on sustainability. It often hinders companies from either gathering critical insights to make improvements or incorporating sustainability into their business models altogether.
Collecting utility data is a major challenge, and often overlooked
Utility data, a major component that underpins a company’s carbon emissions calculations and overall environmental footprint analysis, is especially difficult to access for a variety of reasons. Firstly, there is an extensive number of data elements on each utility invoice, including consumption, tariff information, and commodity type, that are all necessary to developing a sustainability baseline. Additionally, the structure, semantics, and format of bills vary by utility provider and even more so internationally. And to make things even more complex, there are multiple document types — standard invoices, adjustments and re-bills, inserts, shut-off notices, and more. With 35,000 utilities and 4.5 billion meters worldwide, you can imagine the challenge of aggregating and then centralizing all of this data, often locked up in paper invoices.
Because utility data is so hard to gather and homogenize, many organizations rely on manual data collection, OCR technology, limited EDI feeds, or third parties that also resort to these methods. These processes often result in slow, low quality, incomplete, and unreliable utility data, making it impossible for organizations to effectively manage and report on their energy consumption and sustainability. With such poor visibility, managers are forced to come up with solutions based on guesswork and intuition instead of proven facts and figures. Therefore, they are unlikely to make the smartest, most cost-effective business decisions and fully optimize their operations.
Urjanet is making the world’s utility data easily accessible and usable
Founded in 2010 at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) in Atlanta, GA, Urjanet was created to solve the lack of access to quality, timely, and accurate utility data, and as a result enable better decision-making and resource management.
Sanjoy Malik, Urjanet’s CEO, explains, “As the pressure to reduce our natural resource use and increase efficiencies continues to rise, many executives are searching for ways to better manage their businesses’ environmental impacts. We are committed to helping companies and organizations all around the world improve their sustainability and make smarter business decisions by providing them with access to the data they need.”
Urjanet’s cloud-based platform automatically aggregates and standardizes utility data from thousands of disparate providers and seamlessly integrates it into popular business applications. Urjanet supports a variety of service types including electricity, natural gas, water, waste, and more. The company is exclusively focused on capturing and providing quality, usable data and does not offer analytics, bill payment services, or reporting software.
Because utility data has so many different use-cases, Urjanet supports a growing volume and variety of organizations. Today, an expanding list of industry-leading companies, such as Kimberly-Clark, Cox Enterprises, Chick-fil-A, and Honda use Urjanet’s award-winning data products to better manage their energy spend, optimize financial performance, and reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, top energy solutions providers, including Ecova, Johnson Controls, Verisae, and EnerNOC use Urjanet to improve operational efficiency and results for customers. In one of its research reports, independent analyst firm, Verdantix, stated that “as Urjanet’s software and services customer list continues to grow, those firms not working with Urjanet will have to start asking themselves why.”
Urjanet is on its way to becoming the world’s utility data standard. To learn more, visit www.urjanet.com.