Governments are pursuing a variety of measures to reach common and more efficient environmental and energetic policies: Nonetheless, the effort has shown to be not sufficient, since the objectives stated in the European Union (EU) Directive 2009/28/EC on energy efficiency seem quite distant to be reached. A greater attention has obviously been paid toward the industrial sector, which utilizes a major share of primary energy consumption: Till now several actions have been taken to achieve the energy performance of buildings, but very few are in operations. Nonetheless, in order to be most effective, governments should focus their attention not only on energy intensive large enterprises (LEs) but also on nonenergy intensive small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that represent the majority of the total number of industries, cover a consistent share of the energy consumption of a whole domestic industrial sector, and are usually less efficient than LEs. This paper aims to highlight the most effective energy savings opportunities (ESOs) for reducing energy consumption in industrial operations that have been successfully implemented in a large number of SMEs case studies investigated in North America and Italy, showing a correspondence (in terms of savings and costs) between the two databases. This paper analyzes the ESOs, characterized by best available technologies and practices (BAT/Ps), with a cross-analysis within three manufacturing sectors, i.e., primary metals, plastics, and textiles, and considering different subsizes among SMEs, in order to show commonalities and differences among the sample. The ESOs have been analyzed and ranked according to different criteria of importance, highlighting the most diffused, those having the highest energy savings, and those with the shortest pay-back time. The scope of the elaboration of these criteria is twofold: on one side, it allows to be closer to the entrepreneurial sensibility, guiding entrepreneurs in evaluating a possible investment in energy efficiency; on the other side, it provides important suggestions for a public local authority that, through financial support and/or other policies, aims at diffusing the adoption of BAT/Ps and increasing the sectors’ energy efficiency and competitiveness.

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