How do companies decide on non-strategic energy efficiency issues? An in-depth study of the decision-making process
Reducing energy demand is crucial to achieve climate goals. For energy-intensive industries, energy is obviously a very relevant cost factor and therefore an integral part of strategic decision-making. However, ambitious emission goals also require companies to improve their energy efficiency in other areas that are not part of their core business and therefore nonstrategic. In this contribution, we report findings from a detailed survey of such non-strategic decision processes in German companies. The survey addressed investments in thermal conditioning (i.e. related to windows, facades, etc.) of office and retail buildings as an example to gain a more comprehensive understanding of non-strategic decision processes, which have not been sufficiently addressed in the literature so far. To identify relevant themes and topics, we drew on an earlier interview study. This study indicated the relevance of a variety of different triggers (e.g. need for repairs, shortage of space due to business growth or new regulations on fire protection and accessibility). For these triggers, we surveyed factors that might promote or inhibit the actual implementation of (ambitious) energy refurbishments on such occasions. Ambitious energy refurbishments are characterised by the implementation of an energy efficiency standard that exceeds the minimum legal requirements. This analysis includes the potentially significant multiple benefits of refurbishments, such as increased employeemotivation and productivity or an improved image. We examined decision-makers' individual perceptions of these potential benefits and the possible downsides of ambitious energy efficiency (EE) measures, and analysed their influence of theseperceptions on the willingness to champion EE measures. In addition, we analysed the role of different departments within a company and the potential influence of intermediaries e.g. like energy consultants, carpenters, plasterers, installers, architects,etc. on decisions about EE measures. We therefore chose a multi-actor approach and aimed at identifying innovative leverage points for policies and programmes to support companies in reducing their energy demand in areas outside their core businessactivities.