• William Walsh

William Walsh, COO at SEAI, celebrates all the energy champions across Ireland, including the unsung heroes working tirelessly for sustainable energy.

SEAI has just launched the Sustainable Energy Awards 2016, calling on organisations large and small to build on the €1billion in energy savings already achieved by competition entrants over the last 13 years. We applaud those entrants and category winners, as we do every year. But what about all the other energy champions who haven't been nominated or shortlisted for an Award. We shouldn't just overlook these unsung heroes, who humbly pursue their trade in the background.

In the past couple of years we have experienced very welcome GDP growth. Fortunately this economic growth has not been accompanied by an equivalent growth in energy consumption, meaning our economy is more efficient. We must applaud all energy champions, without whom energy efficiency across the economy would simply not be improving.

So who or what is an energy champion?

Many make the mistake of thinking that the energy champion needs to know the technical stuff but this not necessarily the case. So what does an energy champion look like? The most important trait is that they are a 'doer', they get things done and we all know what that person looks like in an organisation. They are good co-ordinators, because dealing with energy means involving people right across the company. They have an interest, or even a passion, for the area which helps inspire and engage others. Combining these qualities means that the energy champion can bring people on the energy efficiency journey.

Sustainable energy is no longer a niche topic with businesses and public bodies already to the fore in a national movement towards clean energy and energy savings. The Sustainable Energy Awards reward these great achievements and highlight the extent to which energy efficiency makes economic sense. There is lots of great work being done in businesses and communities right across Ireland, and I'd encourage people to enter the Awards and get recognised for their efforts.

But to all energy champions, nominated or otherwise, I say, take a bow. Yours are vital efforts in our economic growth and our transition out of fossil fuels. You are also playing an essential role in a post-COP21 world where we must reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, mitigating the threat of climate.