Imagine striking up a conversation about your energy & sustainability journey with a colleague at work, or with one of your customers, or with your team of department.  Imagine planning for and implementing big policies and better actions with colleagues excited to join you and who have pride in the actions you’re taking.

This is the second of our two checklists on Engagement Actions.  Use it to think about which activities mean you actions are more coordinated, take less effort to drive continual improvement for better energy and utilities resource use within your organization. 

Birds that fly in formation use 20-30% less effort and they get to their destination faster than birds which don’t.

This checklist builds on ‘Creating the Buzz’ and adds in a further 25 more advanced engagement action ideas which will help you ‘Fly with Confidence’. 

It’s aimed at master practitioners and organizational leaders striving to deliver the ‘Win for All' to focus on the few big things that will make the biggest difference:

  • Deliver bigger and quicker energy savings and sustainability improvements at scale.
  • Better synchronize the organization’s efforts so everyone is working together.
  • Establish momentum which lasts the distance to help you get to the point you are absolutely confident you are only using what you need.

The 25 suggested actions are divided up across the Big Green Challenge 5-R categories: Review, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink.


The first step to take to understand performance and target savings right away

1. Set a Destination Vision 

In strategic terms, a program vision should project a compelling mental image of what a better, more sustainable Net Zero future would look like for the organization and the people involved. The challenge is to inspire colleagues to review how they impact on energy & sustainability performance and know that their efforts are part of a common, greater goal.

Use your vision to capture imaginations, show clear business benefits, underline that it is easy, and create the emotive connections for colleagues to get more involved: create hope and a sense of excitement about tomorrow.

2. Share & Sanity Check your Plan

Being clear on the plan from the start not only helps avoid confusion but also allows you to consult for feedback early on.  If people understand and input into the plan, they will be more likely to commit.   It they don’t, you’ll quickly erode their interest.

Visually present your strategic plan, ideally on a single page, showing how all the critical activities needed fit together with a clear line of sight to the strategic objectives and your destination vision.

3. Review your Key Performance Indicators

KPIs are used to show whether critical activities are working successfully; the metrics used serve to monitor and measure the effectiveness of these actions. Involving your colleagues in developing your monitoring measurement and verification plans helps ensure buy-in for baselines and monitoring requirements as well as the success measures themselves - means that KPIs and performance measures are more likely to be owned by the people involved.

Encourage your colleagues and teams to monitor energy performance using common and shared KPIs; so they track actual versus expected resource use (in absolute consumption terms) and review their performance in terms of energy efficiency, utilization or  productivity performance (in specific consumption terms).

4. Organize Treasure Hunts 

Treasure hunts can be a fun way to engage colleagues in identifying low-cost energy savings opportunities, from behavioral, operational and technical interventions and actions. Typically, teams walk around a targeted facility looking for quick ways to reduce consumption waste; lots of small opportunities can all add up to large savings.

Use the idea of hunts to engage significant resource users on a practical specific awareness level, allowing them to put on an “energy improvement hat” and look at areas they know well.  Consider carrying out hunts at night as these particularly may reveal golden opportunities otherwise hidden during the day.

5. Run a Personal Pledge Challenge  

Studies suggest that personal plans are more effective at changing our behaviors if they include pledges, particularly if those pledges are in a written format.  Pledges can include changes to personal everyday actions such as changing habits or improving a particular process and more general commitments such aso reducing carbon footprint or increasing recycling rates. Asking colleagues to make personal pledges empowers and drives them to think about what they care about the most, and what they want to work towards.

Consider using personal pledging as part of a campaign to help stimulate awareness and create dialogue around sustainability issues and Net Zero targets.  Smart phone apps can help monitor progress and overall impact.


Prioritize engagement activities that engage colleagues to reduce consumption of resources.

1. Challenge Everyday Champions 

Everyday champions are colleagues, regardless of their field or profession, who think about and act for better energy & sustainability performance within their work area; quite often, local everyday champions can make a significant impact by committing to just 20 minutes a day.

To be effective, champions must be mutually supported and supportive and their efforts coordinated by organizational managers and practitioners.

2. Empower Local Improvement Teams 

Local Improvement Teams are groups of everyday champions, led by an energy and sustainability representative or lead champion which coordinates and applies structured methodologies to improve processes towards achieving a common task or goal. Once the team is in place, ensure the approach empowers the representative to look after the needs of the individuals.

Set-up local energy & sustainability management team/s and help co-create team charter/s which define purpose, scope, objectives, timeframe and strategic plans.

3. Set Up a Small Projects Fund 

For small projects, the availability of a projects fund can really encourage and support colleagues to champion ideas even when they come at a cost.  Such a fund demonstrates good support for the program from top-management.

Set up a fund that on-site teams can easily access to implement small improvement projects, upgrade equipment, etc.  Remember, targeted in the right way, investments lead to greater savings and returns.

4. Specify Procurement Eco-Labels

Labelling has proven to strongly influence people’s choice in their purchasing decisions. Energy labels, for example Energy Star, can make it easier to identify more energy efficient equipment options. The Green Guide Rating is an example of a scheme which reports on more general environmental impact.  For making decisions, ensure that colleagues consider the relevant eco-labels into context by taking into account the best overall value across all the key procurement objectives.  Record the reasoning for the procurement decision to ensure the intent and sustainability credentials are understood after first purchase.

Review and specify the use of relevant eco-labels for when colleagues buy new or replace equipment and materials. 

5. Set Up Operational Controls 

Operational controls, for example through the use of standard operating procedures, aim to ensure target behaviors are achieved by reducing the opportunity for other choices or behaviors. It is usually better to specify actions to do things in the right way, rather than focusing on what not to do.

Look to set-up, review and continually improve the procedures and specifications you use, for example for your shutdown or fire-up time schedules, performance criteria set for comfort conditions, lighting and heating levels, and the standards you have for design and procurement decisions.


Once reduction interventions are in place, reinforce actions with interventions that enhance ability.

1. Sponsor Colleague Training 

Never forget the importance of improving skills, changing mind-sets and creating better behaviors. Training (for new skills) is different from education (for new knowledge), although workshops and programs often use both. Industry-accredited training is desirable for significant resource users to demonstrate their better skills and performance. Coaching helps colleagues to focus their efforts on current objectives by understanding the challenges and developing their own solutions.

Keep your colleagues updated through regular workshops, blended with in-person and online training and coaching as appropriate.

2. Utilize Gamification Methods 

Gamification is a type of training that can help focus people on particular skills through iterative experience and instant feedback. Gamification often draws on competition, recognition and reward opportunities.

Reward energy saving ideas or behavioral change pledges, and give people and teams credit for their efforts and results. Try to make better sustainability a game that everyone wants to play.

3. Sponsor Key-Connectors

Key-connectors are a type of sustainability representative or champion empowered to influence and create local connections between people and activities, helping to overcome barriers and challenges. People who are natural good communicators, and who know a good cross-section of people across an organization usually make good key connectors. Good examples include people who work in facilities management or as office receptionists.

Ask senior connectors to act as ambassadors to help influence top managers (to sponsor work areas etc.). Sponsor key connectors to act as lead champions or representatives for their local areas.

4. Make Incentives 

Incentives may include using prize draws, financial rewards such as bonuses and/or social rewards such as recognition.  This is different from coercion, which uses penalties or adds cost. Studies suggest that social rewards are usually more effective than financial rewards. However, use incentives with caution, as studies also find that individuals could perceive a task as too difficult if the reward is particularly high, or that an excessive focus on rewards can weaken a genuine interest in the task. Don’t rely too heavily on financial rewards as there’s a risk of reversing impact as soon as incentives cease.

Consider incentivizing people to develop themselves and improving performance by linking challenge with reward.

5.Design in Social Enablers 

As well as empowerment, social enablers may include use of smart phone or web apps or other ways to increase means and reduce barriers to increase people’s capability or opportunity for action.  Studies have shown that such enablers, used along with other interventions, can be the defining factor for successful behavior change programs.

Design in a social enabler strategy that promotes enhanced local responsibility, collaboration and empowerment.  Provide support as required.


Connect colleagues and recycle ideas, actions and feedback to seal change longer-term.

1. Highlight Top Management Commitment in Tracking Progress

It is essential that top managers support energy & sustainability management programs and demonstrate their commitment. Standards, such as ISO 50001, underline the role of top management in successful outcomes; without this commitment, programs usually fail. Ultimately, continual improvement is demonstrated by measurement and verification of progress at high level. Tracking actions bottom-up provides early warning signals. If progress isn’t been made, the approach and support processes need reviewing.

Highlight commitment from top managers in monitoring progress, the necessary resources made available, and their more general support, feedback and recognition.

2. Update Organizational Policies & Procedures  

ISO 50001 and ISO 140001 defines that organizational energy & environmental policies should provide the framework for setting and reviewing objectives and energy targets.  Continually review and include a commitment to ensure the availability of information and necessary required resources, and to satisfy applicable legal and other requirements. Continually improve overall performance and the associated environmental management system, and support procurement and design practices that improve on environmental performance.

Incorporate changes in practices and requirements into organizational policies, job descriptions, training, appraisals and other procedures for colleagues.

3. Employ Suggestion Schemes

Suggestion schemes are mechanisms that allow colleagues to offer their own ideas for performance improvements. Creating such a mechanism, for example, is a key requirement for ISO 50001 good practice.  This could be managed as an ongoing initiative, or specifically promoted at defined times. It is important to respond to any idea submitted within a credible period to avoid colleagues becoming disillusioned in the suggestion scheme management system.

Pixar, for example, set-up a day where employees could make suggestions about opportunities they felt passionate about to save energy. Of more than 100 ideas discussed that day, the Studio prioritized and focused on 21 of them to operate more efficiency.

4. Develop an Energy Crediting System 

Energy crediting is a bottom-up process used to allocate savings to people and teams, rather than just buildings or areas.  This can have a great impact on behavior, making sustainability and energy saving desirable, engaging, and easily accessible to everyone.

Develop a system which lists of improvement ideas and associated benefits and tracks progress being made.  This allows colleagues to see what actions are being taken and can also be used as the basis for a recognition and reward.

5. Earn Certifications

Earn recognition for your organization's hard work by taking advantage of one or more of the numerous programs and initiatives that will validate and legitimize your company’s efforts. Certificates also instill a sense of pride within the company and establish your industry leadership outside your organization.

Let everybody know about your commitment to greater energy and sustainability performance, and your successful people-centered approaches.


Challenge mindsets, look for new ways of doing business and trial new ideas.

1. What’s Next?

Use annual management reviews to look at ways to adapt your approaches and streamline activities and refine strategic checkpoints to guarantee and self-propel momentum.

Keep asking the question ‘what’s next?’ to guarantee momentum in what you’re doing.

2. Surveillance Controls

Surveillance controls are used to monitor changes in stakeholders’ requirements, such as legal requirements, internal factors and external threats.  They ensure goals are still realistic and achievable, now and in the future.

Put in place strategic surveillance to monitor for factors and events which are likely to influence improvements in energy & sustainability performance. Update plans and strategy maps as required.

3. Energy Performance Partnerships

If positioned in the right way, partnerships can help engage, empower and incentivize the teams involved. You can use initiatives such as energy performance contracts or energy crediting to help support this.  

Structure your energy performance improvement projects to be delivered more in partnership with teams, service partners or other organizational stakeholders or groups.

4. Expand the Resource Management Team 

Putting in place an energy & sustainability management team is a fundamental requirement for standards such as ISO 50001. A team is made up of at least one person with responsibility and authority over the effective implementation of an energy management system to deliver energy performance improvement.

Look to expand the resources management team to include a better mix of people with different skills and perspectives, including energy and sustainability managers, energy champions from across the organization, and senior management ambassadors.

5. Renew Objectives, Targets and action plans

Objectives should target and involve significant utility resource uses, and take into account strategic energy requirements and policies. Action plans define how objectives and targets will be achieved, including resources required, responsibilities, and how the results will be evaluated. Set them up so they can be communicated and updated, as appropriate.

To guarantee momentum for continually improving energy & sustainability performance, be prepared to regularly review and reset your objectives, targets and action plans so they are, and continue to be, specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely.


Use this checklist to help you develop your confidence in your approaches and processes to engage your colleagues to get more involved with energy & sustainability action on the ground.

This checklist provides 25 more engagement techniques that can be adopted at different stages of a program, aimed at sparking initial interest, showing business and personal benefits, keeping momentum going and instilling a sense of excitement about the future.

Focus on the few big strategic actions that will make the biggest difference in helping your organization deliver the ‘Win for All'.

If you haven’t already – check out the first part of this checklist, to help you create the buzz at Smart Saver level.

Try out the ideas that most suit your organization’s needs and let us know what worked for you!


If you would like a downloadable summary checklist of this, please contact us.

  • It’s in Microsoft Word, but it can easily be converted to another Word processing format, such as Google Docs. It’s read-only, so you’ll have to save your version onto your own drive to be able to modify it.
  • You can then modify and develop this simplified checklist to suit your needs as required. Complete it on line or print it out (but remember: think before you print!)

Written by James Brittain and Monica Landoni


Master Practitioner

Over to you - How can BigGreenAcademy best support you achieving your goals?

For this topic:

  • What do you see as being the biggest drivers and opportunities?
  • What are the challenges that are hindering you delivering on these?
  • How can BigGreenAcademy can best support you achieving your goals?

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