M_KEY – Management as a Key Driver of Energy Performance

The research project – part of the Swiss NRP71 National Research Programme “Managing Energy Consumption” – aims at testing the hypothesis that energy management significantly raises companies’assessment of the strategic character of energy-efficiency investments. This in turn entails more positive decisions regarding energy-efficiency investments.

Improving energy efficiency is the primary pillar of the Swiss Government’s new “Energy Strategy 2050”. In many companies, there is still considerable potential to reduce energy consumption. Yet, energy-efficiency investments – even when highly profitable – often remain undecided. An important reason is the perceived non-strategic character of such investments. An investment’s strategic character – i.e. its contribution to a firm’s competitive advantage (“strategicity”) – plays a paramount role in decision-making. The perception of the “strategicity” is assumed to depend on a firm’s energy management, which seeks to reduce energy consumption in a profitable way.


The main research hypothesis is that energy management significantly raises companies’ perceived “strategicity” of energy efficiency investments. In consequence, energy management is expected to induce positive decisions regarding energy efficiency investments and ultimately to increase the energy performance of a firm. To analyse the impact of energy management, the project aims at answering the following main research questions:

  • What are the determinants of the energy management level?
  • What is the level of energy management in large-scale Swiss energy consumers?
  • Does the level of energy management influence the perceived “strategicity” of energy efficiency investments?
  • How does the perceived “strategicity” influence energy efficiency investment decisions?
  • Does the level of energy management significantly influence positive energy efficiency investment decisions and therefore ultimately the energy performance of companies?

The answers are based on quantitative and qualitative data from Swiss large-scale energy consumer companies, gathered through a mix of surveys, face-to-face interviews and a small number of case studies. The overarching objective of the project is to gain a better understanding of the determinants of energy-efficiency investments.

Contribution to the implementation of the “Energy Strategy 2050”

The project will shed some light on energy management and energy-efficiency investment practices in Switzerland by large energy consumer private firms, and will propose adequate policy measures and regulations, aiming at improving energy performance in private firms. The large electricity-consuming firms that are analysed represent an important target group for energy efficiency measures, as they are responsible for approximately 60% of the total consumption of electricity.

Personnes et institutions

Co-applicants and project management Senior Researchers (core research team)
Dr. Rolf Iten (lead)
Infras, Zurich

Prof. Milad Zarin
Institut de recherches économiques

Bernard Oettli, (PM)
Infras, Zurich

Dr. Catherine Cooremans
Prof. Alain Schönenberger
Institut de recherches économiques

Stephan Hammer, Infras

Conrad Brunner
Rita Werle
Impact Energy Ltd, Zurich