• Tom Halpin

Award season is kicking off this autumn as we celebrate the best of energy projects in Ireland in the Mansion House this October.

 

A bit of history

There was a time when the only person who knew about energy in a business was typically ‘the boiler-man’ and the only way to make sustainable energy gains in a business was to move energy from the boiler room to the boardroom.  This was because the bottom line was the only thing that spoke to many businesses.

The National Boiler Awards that started in 1996 were truly of that era.  They were introduced to shine a light on the achievements of a few dedicated souls. They were very much the unsung heroes of energy efficiency in business at that time.  It was also a way of showing other similar businesses what they could gain if they followed suit.

Now in 2018 the SEAI Energy Awards are very different but very similar in principle. We still want to highlight the extra effort made by organisations and individuals to advance Ireland to a cleaner energy system. In awarding high achievement, we want others to see just what is possible if they put their minds to it.

What is different?

Energy sustainability is more prominent in our society than ever before. We have the Paris Agreement of 2015. We have diesel-gate and there is growing evidence of climate change happening.

Energy sustainability is front and centre of most businesses.  It is as firmly on the boardroom table as production schedules and P&L accounts.

The solutions being implemented are brimming with innovation. They are often at the leading edge of technology using innovative materials and processes as well as extraordinary applications of ICT, IoT and data analytics.  There are now far more diverse skill sets involved including engineering and science but also finance, legal, computing and marketing.

However, it still needs a person or team to assess the issue, analyse the options, identify the best solution and follow it through to successful implementation.  They may not be the boiler-person anymore but they are often the unsung heroes. That is why we have the SEAI Energy Awards.

 

The Finalists

The finalists have been carefully chosen – the standard was exceptionally high this year with only a select few making it to the shortlist.  In fact, the competition was particularly fierce this year in some of the categories.  It is great to see the breadth of businesses and organisations represented at the awards including retail, pharmachem, dairy and food, IT, utilities, healthcare, education and manufacturing.  I am very confident that this year’s awards will be an extraordinary demonstration of what Irish public bodies, communities, private organisations have achieved in terms of exemplar energy activities.

I am also confident, having attended virtually every awards gala since they started, that everyone will go home inspired and as a result of that, this helps us to convey that inspiration throughout all our programmes nationally.