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UN, Accenture ID Business Opportunity in Sustainable Energy

Better enterprise energy management can reduce annual energy costs between 10 and 35 percent, according to a series of new reports by the UN Global Compact and Accenture.

The reports say the mining industry could cut costs by up to 15 percent, retail by up to 20 percent, utilities by up to 25 percent and public building portfolios by up to 35 percent (see chart) by supporting the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

Sustainable Energy for All: The Business Opportunity highlight how businesses across 19 sectors can increase their bottom line while supporting the UN initiative, which aims to expand energy access worldwide, improve energy efficiency and increase the share of renewables.

Companies can also improve efficiency and reduce costs with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning retrofits or lighting upgrades, the reports say, noting that lighting accounts for 25 percent of US commercial buildings’ energy use, and up to 60 percent in India.

The reports include 19 Industry Opportunity reports focusing on individual sectors — food and agriculture, automotive, construction, information and communications technology, chemicals, metals and mining, oil and gas, utilities, transportation, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, professional services, financial services, consumer packaged goods, retail, industrial manufacturing, travel and leisure, forest products, and renewable energy —  to help companies implement sustainable energy strategies.

Based on research and interviews with more than 70 companies, the reports recommend several industry priority actions designed to advance the goals of Sustainable Energy for All.

Fifty percent of the recommended actions within the reports focus on energy efficiency, 38 percent on renewable energy use and 12 percent on access to energy.

Despite difference between the 19 industries, the reports identify five common priority actions across all sectors: increase energy efficiency in operations, increase the use of renewable energy in operations, provide energy-efficient products and services, beneficially reuse waste streams and engage stakeholders.

The reports also identify two major challenges: the lack of global policy and regulatory solutions, and the need for sectors to introduce industry-wide sustainable energy standards that provide governments with a framework to draft policy changes. They conclude that new financing mechanisms and instruments will be required by both the public and private sectors to advance the goals of Sustainable Energy for All.

An Accenture report published in May found 44 percent of senior executives say that sustainability is critical to their businesses, and that figure rises to 64 percent in emerging markets.

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