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Energy staircase in Eskilstuna stops energy thieves

This is not really anything new, but tried and tested methods we know work, but in a new package.
- Sara Sjöqvist, Business Developer at the Energy Evolution Center

No company in Eskilstuna should have to pay for unnecessary energy or contribute to a larger climate footprint than necessary! That's why Eskilstuna Municipality, through the Energy Evolution Center, has created the Energy Staircase - a clear and structured process where we support companies to become more energy smart.

There is great potential to save energy, costs and the environment. Our experience shows that energy use in businesses can often be reduced by up to 20% with simple measures without major investment.

There are also lots of tips and advice on energy and energy efficiency, and as a business owner it can be difficult to know where to start. Step by step, we provide advice and guidance towards becoming a company that is aware of its energy use and has the control, knowledge and tools to ensure that all energy input is utilized.

We mainly target small and medium-sized enterprises in Eskilstuna with the potential and willingness to reduce their energy use.

Reduce energy use by 10-20%
Simple measures without major investments
Contribute to the climate transition - become an energy-smart company

Energy smart engagement in Eskilstuna

Pictured: Per Ekstorm, Sara Sjöqvist, Tommy Bolinder, Jari Törmänen and Mattias Sjölund (back right).
Pictured: Per Ekstorm, Sara Sjöqvist, Tommy Bolinder, Jari Törmänen and Mattias Sjölund (back right).

There are only advantages to becoming an energy-smart company, for the economy, the work environment and not least through reduced negative climate impact and emissions. In Eskilstuna, the energy-smart solutions are tailored to the needs of companies in a unique initiative - Energitrappan!

It's late evening on the threshold of night and pitch black outside. Around a business premises in one of Eskilstuna's industrial areas, the light of torches can be seen bouncing off the facade. You might have suspected thieves on the move and you would have been partly right.

The scenario is not fictional, but instead of thieves looking for a way in, it was the company's staff and the municipality's energy and climate advisor looking for the thieves' way out - the energy thieves.

Night walking is not a common practice for energy and climate advisors but can be used as a method to detect leaks. They simply listen to see if and where there are leaks from the property and what energy is being lost that way.

The night walk provides a clear example that the work to help Eskilstuna companies become energy smart is done on the company's terms and at their pace. Energy and climate advice has been part of Eskilstuna municipality's services for a long time but was previously in need of a clearer process.

- "We needed to put everything together and make it easier for both advisors and entrepreneurs, but still be clear that everything is done according to the companies' conditions. This is really nothing new, but proven methods we know work, but in a new package," says Sara Sjöqvist, business developer at the Energy Evolution Center.

The municipality of Eskilstuna has chosen to gather energy and climate advice under the Energy Evolution Center. In organizational terms, the center is part of the business department and partly financed by EU funds. This separate profile gives the center its own brand and makes it a creative energy hub, while retaining the strong link to the business department and valuable contacts with the business world.

- The Energy Staircase package makes it easier to sell, to understand what it means and to communicate to others. This applies both to our own communication and for companies to their customers. The fact that we belong to the business department also means that cooperation with business developers is natural and their expertise can easily benefit companies," says Sara.

The energy staircase was launched in 2022 and by 2023, the advisory has identified an annual savings potential of approximately 546 tons of CO2e. This corresponds to about 1.5% of emissions from industry in Eskilstuna. The figures are calculated based on energy analyses conducted at the companies, not actual reductions.

- The amount of energy that companies could potentially have saved with the Energy Staircase for the period 2022 to 2023 is 7 GWh of electricity/district heating per year. If we recalculate and value it at SEK 1/kWh, it is about SEK 7 million per year, says Mattias Sjölund, energy and climate advisor.

The energy ladder consists of five steps, with awareness and motivation being the first. Even knowing what the situation is and what motivates this particular company to change is elementary.

Step two is about procedures and responsibilities. It is important that all employees are involved and act if they discover energy thieves; the knowledge should not remain with a few.

The third step is targets and monitoring, where the Energy Evolution Center has developed a range of tools to help companies.

Step four is culture and organization. How does the energy-smart approach become part of the corporate culture and energy policy? Which parts of the organization are key functions for this?

The final step is about inspiration and collaboration. How can the company be inspired to find additional ways to work smart and how can industry colleagues be helped to not only become energy smart and more profitable, but also contribute to the entire municipality's climate transition?

- We can broadly promise to reduce their energy costs by 10 to 15%. It's about reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, which is both profitable and better for the environment. We are also working with the local energy company to find a good solution for utilizing residual heat," says Anders Olsson, energy and climate advisor, and his colleague Tommy Bolinder adds:

- "We always find small things when we come out and do a first tour, even with those who say they have everything under control. It could be compressed air in tools that is leaking or a compressor that is running unnecessarily, just because that's how it has always been," says Tommy.

Isn't the risk that you are competing in the consulting market?

- No, we spark new ideas in businesses but don't tell them exactly what to do. We give advice, point in different directions and rather clear the way for the consultants. We also don't carry out any supervision or send any invoices for our work," says Tommy Bolinder.

In addition to a better deal for business owners and a healthier environmental impact, an energy-smart approach leads to other benefits. The most common energy thieves are found in ventilation systems, and adjusting the settings will improve air quality and the working environment. Combine this with new and smarter lighting and you have two quick measures to improve the working environment.

- If you save money, you might be able to afford that new investment you've been thinking about or hire new staff. We can crunch the numbers and show them how much they would need to spend to match the savings from the energy-smart measures. When you start pointing out how this benefits the 'bottom line' of the economy, it becomes clearer to them," says Tommy.

The Energy Staircase is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, preferably those that own their buildings or at least have control over them. Most participants are in the manufacturing industry.

- We are now working on developing the staircase and our tools to be even more user-friendly. We want to bring in more companies and get companies to spread the word and show their good examples," says Sara Sjöqvist.

Finding more participants is identified as the major challenge. Getting a foothold with companies and being able to demonstrate the potential of the Energy Staircase and energy/climate work requires diligent recruitment work with more or less familiar faces for the business community.

What advice would you give to other cities that want to make a similar effort?

- Make a concerted effort where you officially announce from the municipality's central office that you will implement an initiative for local businesses. An effort together with business offices and other actors that can act as gateways to the companies, says Mattias Sjölund.

Five facts about the Energy Ladder

More about the Eskilstuna Energy Ladder

Contact us

Sara Sjöqvist, Business Developer at Energy Evolution Center, sara.sjoqvist@eskilstuna.se, 016-710 44 82

Climate-neutral Eskilstuna in 2030