Strategic Energy Management (SEM) is a holistic approach to energy management that enables organizations to achieve long-term, persistent energy savings and carbon emission reductions. Instead of managing energy projects one by one, SEM provides a framework and the tools to manage energy in a coordinated and strategic way. This helps to increase profitability, create a competitive advantage, and achieve greater resiliency. Despite its proven benefits, several myths persist, often hindering SEM’s adoption and implementation.

To tackle those misconceptions, our SEM Team has put together some of the most common myths about SEM and addresses each one with facts. Our goal with this list is to help you understand how SEM can work for your organization.

Let’s get started!

Myth 1: SEM is only for large organizations.

Fact: Many believe that only large organizations with substantial budgets and resources can implement SEM effectively. In reality, SEM principles and practices can be scaled to fit organizations of all sizes. Small and medium-sized organizations can also reap significant benefits by adopting SEM practices tailored to their specific needs and capacities.

From industrial mining operations to education to property management, Prism works with organizations of varying sizes and industries. Read examples of our work here.

Myth 2: SEM requires a significant upfront investment.

Fact: There is a misconception that SEM necessitates large initial capital expenditures. While some energy efficiency projects may require upfront investments, many SEM activities focus on “low-cost” and “no-cost” opportunities, such as operational improvements, behavioural changes, and better energy management practices.

One of the best places for an organization to start its SEM journey is by conducting an Energy Management Assessment (EMA). Using tools developed by Prism, we facilitate a workshop to assess an organization’s current energy management practices, understand its future goals, and develop an action plan for how to get there.

Myth 3: SEM is only about reducing energy consumption.

Fact: While improving energy performance and reducing emissions is at the heart of SEM, it is about so much more. SEM aims to create a culture of continuous improvement and strategic decision-making related to energy use. SEM also creates many “non energy benefits”, such as enhanced environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, increased staff engagement and job retention, reduced financial risk, and improved maintenance procedures.

Myth 4: Energy management is solely the responsibility of the Facilities Team.

Fact: Effective SEM practices require involvement and commitment across the entire organization. It is a multidisciplinary effort that includes management, finance, operations, and employees at all levels. Engaging a broad range of stakeholders ensures that energy management is integrated into the organization’s culture and processes. This can take time to achieve, but the benefits are immense, and Prism can help you with this.

In a sense, SEM is a team sport. Check out this article in which Robert Greenwald, P.Eng. and President of Prism Engineering, compares an energy management team to a hockey team.

Myth 5: SEM is a one-time project.

Fact: SEM is not a one-off initiative but an ongoing process of continuous improvement. It involves making a plan and setting targets, regularly assessing energy performance, implementing measures, monitoring results, and making necessary adjustments. The cyclical nature of SEM ensures that organizations can adapt and improve their energy management strategies over time, as seen in Figure 1 below.

Learn more about how Prism can help your organization develop a Strategic Energy Management Plan (SEMP) that goes beyond short-term goals.

Figure 1: Strategic Energy Management continuous improvement process

Myth 6: SEM does not provide immediate benefits.

Fact: Some organizations hesitate to adopt SEM because they believe the benefits will take a long time to materialize. While a SEM program is a long-term investment, many SEM practices can lead to immediate energy savings and cost reductions. Furthermore, quick wins and early successes can build momentum and justify further investment in energy management efforts.

One of the first steps we often take with an organization is a “Treasure Hunt,” also known as an Energy Scan. This interactive activity can help identify and implement quick wins in an organization.

Myth 7: Technology alone can solve energy and carbon management challenges.

Fact: While advanced technologies and systems can significantly enhance energy and carbon management and are a key aspect of SEM, they are not a silver bullet. Effective SEM requires a combination of technology, strategic planning and, of course, people. Engagement, buy-in and training are crucial for success.

Learn more about how Prism’s Coaching for Energy Managers and Energy Management Training programs can support employee engagement and organizational change.


Prism is here to support your organization’s success.

We hope that by dispelling these myths, organizations can better understand the true nature and benefits of Strategic Energy Management (SEM) and take more informed steps toward its implementation.

Interested to learn more?
Connect with our team

Read more about our services
Strategic Energy Management (SEM)

See project examples
SEM projects