Enbridge’s Approach to Energy Efficiency

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At Enbridge, moving toward a low-carbon energy future is about more than just growing the company’s already sizeable investments in renewable energy and electrical transmission. It also means considering the big picture on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction across some of North America’s largest transportation and distribution systems for oil and natural gas.

In 2011, Enbridge met an initial target of a 20% reduction in Canadian direct GHG emissions over 1990 levels. Since then, Scope 1 emissions from the company’s liquid pipeline system have continued to decline but Scope 2 emissions have started growing. In 2016 Enbridge adopted a new climate policy that mandates all of its different business units to develop and implement multi-year plans and goals for carbon reduction and energy efficiency. But second generation targets are by definition more difficult to achieve than first generation ones – particularly for a company that – in addition to being one of the largest investors in renewable energy in Canada – recently completed a merger with Spectra Energy, which significantly increased the size of the company’s natural gas footprint.

Setting Goals

Coordinating emissions reduction strategies across multiple businesses with different operating models is not an easy task, and the recent acquisition of Spectra Energy has added greater opportunities and challenges to the development of Enbridge’s Carbon and Energy Efficiency (CEE) Plans. Integrating the potential risks and opportunities from current and emerging carbon pricing policies, building codes and efficiency mandates, among other inputs from both Canada and the US, takes significant time and attention. For example, Enbridge’s natural gas utilities – Enbridge Gas Distribution and Union Gas – are involved in demand side management programs in which they must work within their respective regulatory frameworks to reduce Scope 1 GHG emissions. They also currently participate in their provincially determined Cap and Trade programs layering on additional complexities to how to value and achieve GHG reductions.

So how does an enterprise with businesses that span the transition to a lower carbon future develop climate goals and strategies?

Meet the Sustainability Team

We sat down with members of Enbridge’s sustainability team to answer just that. Edwin Makkinga, (Carbon and Energy Efficiency Strategist), Ivana Suta, (Senior Climate and Environment Advisor) and Ritu Talwar (Manager, Energy and Environmental Policy) are working closely with the company’s business units to develop their carbon and energy performance plans. Driven by the objective to reduce Enbridge’s carbon footprint and improve the company’s energy efficiency, the sustainability team is taking a bottom-up approach and collaborating with business units to develop plans and goals specific to their current and proposed operations and facilities.

We learned that the sustainability team is supporting the establishment of company-wide goals to reduce GHG emissions, and they’re achieving this by focusing on the unique circumstances of each individual business unit.

Advice for Other Companies

Now well underway in the process, Makkinga, Suta and Talwar shared with CBSR some advice for other companies who are looking to undertake their own company-wide energy efficiency targets.

  1. Gain executive leadership support. It is essential that top-level leaders are on board with setting realistic goals. Some business units may need capital to adjust their regular programs or integrate new processes to achieve their goals, and the company needs to be in a position where senior executives support these efforts.
  1. Elect a champion. Each of Enbridge’s business units has a “champion” for goal-setting efforts.  This gives the business units accountability for their successes, and a representative from the business unit instead of executive leadership helps to motivate the team.
  2. Facilitate collaboration and ownership. Allowing the business units to set their own goals and objectives using a bottom-up approach – instead of imposing them from the top-down – encourages teams to work together and take true ownership of their work. This creates high levels of buy-in from the members of these teams. Makkinga, Suta and Talwar are instrumental in this initiative through their coaching and consultation and by providing Enbridge’s business units with new tools to evaluate costs and benefits of different approaches to carbon reduction and energy efficiency.

Enbridge’s purpose is to provide North Americans with the energy they want and need. The company believes that its commitment to emissions reduction and supporting the transition to a lower carbon future provides a unique opportunity to remain competitive and adaptable as the company responds to changing consumer and societal expectations.

Written by Sarah Naiman

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