Committees

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Involving a cross- section of employees from diverse areas across the refinery as soon as the program is started is the best way to spread and promote short- and long-term commitment throughout the organization. So a committee must be formally designated composed of representatives from major refinery activities that use energy, people with knowledge of processes and energy usage, that must bring institutional knowledge and operational experience. A coordinator must be appointed to head the committee and it is recommended that this person holds a managerial position, in order to express that high profile and empower the committee with actual decision capability. The committee should also include a workers' union and safety representative and someone responsible for administrative and marketing tasks. It ought also to be a temporary task, at least for some of the representatives. This shift enforces participation of more staff personnel and spreads the culture.

This committee has an important leadership role in initial tasks as planning, collecting and evaluating opportunities and eventually delegating tasks, establishing deadlines, providing training, guidance and assistance. Another critical job that begins with designation is communicating the importance of energy efficiency to staff.

Even with top management commitment, the energy efficiency committee receives an assignment that occupies the void on organizational chart. It is the space between the boxes, a kind of twilight zone. Although the results of this activity can be profitable with reasonable return rates, the absolute amount of money it provides in general tends to be of a magnitude much smaller than any other core business action produces. And effectively there is a good chance that the money it renders is not actually seen, since it is mostly cost reduction, no influx of currency, so it is not that easy to connect energy efficiency with money for the staff. Another misfit is that any organizational cell has a job description, accountabilities and incentives normally linked to some company priority. Committee participants should be attached to some cell and have their primary obligations and they participate in the group as a kind of part-time job. If this dedication to energy efficiency is not considered within their conventional tasks and accounted for in their regular evaluation there is a good chance that they tend to face the committee as a secondary and low priority activity.

But if the committee has enough support and is able to launch the energy efficiency program it is also building solid bases for its continuity. This may lead to a formal organization, like an energy management or an energy assistant position, really incorporated in the culture as a core business function. Another important legacy of a good committee work is the generation of energy experts and champions who usually are brought from the components of these committees.

Committees are good and can do a great job, especially for the first moves, raising awareness and keeping momentum. But without defined goals, leadership sponsoring and expertise, these groups tend to get a little lost after some time and lose credibility. This is a technological issue and has to be strictly attached to core business. It is essential to have a dedicated team of trained and experienced experts to make it active and reliable.

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