Businesses are going green. Companies are constructing energy-efficient buildings. Fleets are switching to electric vehicles. Offices are switching from incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs. Computing for energy use and efficiency is not exactly a science that anyone can just learn overnight. There is a need to manage energy needs and expenditures in order to know how to do things more efficiently. This is where Enterprise Energy Management Systems will come in.

Not all consumers have an advanced grasp of energy spending. If you were asked to itemize energy use by function or by appliance in your household, you would have to do a lot of math. The same goes for an enterprise, and it’s even more complicated when you involve decision-making on infrastructure and other investments.

How Much Energy Does Your Business Use?

Consider the amount of energy your notebook computer costs in terms of power. You will have to dig through your manuals or labels for specifications. A typical HP notebook for instance, uses a 65-watt power brick. At full load and an 8-hour workday, that’s 65 x 8 or 520 watt-hours per day, or about 11.44 Kilowatt-hours (KWh) per month.

An appliance does not consume constant power levels though. For a laptop, it depends on whether the battery is currently charging or not. Then, you need to compute for this in dollar terms and refer to your monthly bill for the per-KWh cost of electricity. Sometimes, this fluctuates depending on peak and non-peak hours.

And that’s just for electricity. A business will use several forms and sources of energy, such as fuel for vehicles, gas for heating, and even water in the plumbing systems. Factor in all the equipment, tools, and appliances that the business requires to run. The math can certainly be daunting.

Energy Management Services

ENXSuite (news, site) is one example of a company that offers energy management solutions to enterprises. This startup's services include data management, sustainability planning and energy portfolio management. The ENXSuite software enables managers and decision-makers to track the use of their resources, whether they be electricity, gasoline, water, waste or greenhouse gases. Data collected can then be used in making decisions on how a business can become more efficient in energy use.

Among the concerns that need to be addressed is the standard for tracking data pertaining to energy use. ENXSuite CEO Beatriz Infante stresses the importance of the system of record in energy-management. “We've been managing energy at the facility level. But at the corporate level, there hasn't been a system of record of how you're spending and how you're managing electricity or the gas bill,” she says.

ENXSuite is not alone in offering energy-management services. More established companies have either acquired or set-up their own energy-management services. For instance, SAP (news, site) acquired carbon-management software developer Clear Standards in 2009. Other startups like Hara Software and C3 are also entering into the energy management services industry.

Toward the Goal of Sustainability

Energy consumption is just one side of the coin. With sustainability and efficiency in mind, businesses are investing in greener infrastructure and equipment that can potentially save costs and reduce a carbon footprint. For instance, there is a shift to energy-efficient buildings, such as those that use the natural flow of the wind for ventilation and air conditioning. There are also simpler solutions, like replacing all light bulbs with energy-efficient technologies like LED or CFL, or using window panes that have better insulation. Meanwhile, a more labor-friendly option might include giving rebates or incentives to employees who buy hybrid or electric vehicles.

These ideas may be a significant investment in the short-run, but determining whether the returns will be worth it will be the job of an energy management service. Software will do the job of collecting and collating data, such as usage patterns and costs. Projections will be made when new technologies are adopted, and will be modeled for comparison, aiding in decision-making processes.

For businesses, governments and communities looking into sustainability and energy-efficiency as long-term goals, enterprise energy management is viewed as an up-and-coming form of CRM. The main goal here is a noble one -- reducing a carbon footprint and making business more sustainable in the face of fast-depleting natural resources.