THE push towards energy efficiency at Avnet Asia was driven less by green ideology than a very pragmatic need to cut costs.

The company, which distributes electrical components, chips and other technological goods, moved to its warehouse and office complex in Changi South about two years ago.

Almost immediately, it received a shocker in the form of its monthly utilities bill.

'Before we moved here, we occupied a space of about 71 sq ft, now we have 120 sq ft in this complex, which also has very high ceilings,' said Mr Teo Song Seng, its Asia-Pacific senior director of logistic management.

'More space, so of course we ended up spending more on utilities. That hit our bottom line.'

It was enough to get Avnet to start thinking seriously about energy management. Employees from various divisions were appointed to a team to analyse energy use and propose suggestions for ways to reduce it.

Plenty of recommendations were made and adopted.

For example, Avnet changed most of the light bulbs in the complex to energy-saving ones and even removed some bulbs from certain areas where there was a lot of natural light coming through the windows.

It removed a few air-conditioning units from the warehouse area and began switching others on at 8.30am, an hour after workers began their shift, and switching them off at 9pm, 90 minutes before the last employees left.

Previously, the air-conditioners had been left to run for 24 hours every day.

The next phase of its energy management strategy involved hiring Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance, an energy management certification body, to get the firm up to the global standard of ISO 50001.

While some companies might feel it is enough to simply practise good energy-saving habits without pursuing the certificate, Mr Teo believes it helps to ensure that the company stays on track.

'It's to prevent ourselves from slipping back to our previous habits,' he said.

'We didn't want it to be an ad hoc, short-term thing. With this certificate, we have to stick to our energy management programme in order to maintain it.'

Spring Singapore provided some funding to offset the cost of this certification process.

Avnet received its ISO 50001 certificate two weeks ago.

When the company embarked on its energy programme, it planned to slash its utilities bill by at least 23 per cent. It has already met that target, and hopes to improve further.