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Step 11 Guide 1: How to set objectives and targets

This is the eleventh of 20 steps in the in the Energy Management Action Programme (Energy MAP).
Learn about Energy MAP and what it can do for your business.



In general, your objectives and targets are derived from energy policy goals, the recommendations from energy surveys, the identification of significant energy users, energy saving opportunities, energy performance indicators and other policies of the organisation.
They can be based on the whole organisation, individual units, departments, functions or processes. For large sites, separate objectives and targets are normally set for different levels and areas of the organisation.

Characteristics of effective objectives and targets

Objectives and targets should be:

  • Consistent with the energy policy.
  • Quantifiable wherever possible.
  • Controllable.
  • Measurable.
  • Time-limited.
  • Challenging but achievable, i.e. realistic.

How to set objectives and targets

Your Energy Policy from Step 3 will contain certain goals and objectives which must be put into action. In Step 8 you will have surveyed your energy use and identified significant energy users and savings opportunities, and in Step 17 you will develop energy performance indicators (EPIs). These, along with other organisational commitments, such as legal compliance, will form the basis of your objectives in the planning Pillar.

The process of setting objectives and targets moves from the general to the specific, from top-management who set overall goals to operational staff who carry out the on-site tasks. In between, each functional or plant manager is responsible for providing input from his/her own function (admin, purchasing, engineering, and so on) or process area in the case of industry. The basis approach to setting objectives and targets involves the following tasks:

  • Identify the potential for improvement arising from internal reviews and surveys, or external industry benchmarks, standards and other sources (see also Step 17 - Develop and monitor energy performance indicators). 
  • Develop preliminary objectives and discuss with relevant managers or stakeholders. Each manager is responsible for evaluating the potential implications of the objectives within his/her area. Ensure that the proposed objectives are consistent with the overall energy policy.
  • Agree and finalise objectives with all those involved including operational staff if relevant. These should be formally established and backed by top-management.
  • Establish targets to achieve the objectives, and develop measures for tracking progress.
  • Communicate objectives and targets, and how to achieve them, to others in the organisation who need to know.
  • Review progress on a regular basis and inform all relevant people.
  • The final management review (see Step 20) reviews performance against objectives and targets, and modifies where necessary the targets for the succeeding year. However, setting objectives and targets is a dynamic process and they should be monitored and reviewed on an ongoing basis and modified if necessary.

A table providing a template for recording objectives and targets.


An introductory guide to energy performance assessment - analysing your own performance. Good Practice Guide GPG352. The Carbon Trust UK.

Monitoring and targeting in small and medium sized companies. Good Practice Guide GPG125. The Carbon Trust UK.

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