This article offers a step-by-step guide to help reduce energy & resources use at work by making connections for 'Win Win' solutions and focusing on some smart attitudes and behaviors.
It's been put together to help Smart Savers, Lead Champions and Key Connectors to develop their own Big Green Solution through people at work.
We hope it creates some ideas for you.
Are you interested in developing your own big green solution for your workplace?
This makes total sense:
Involving colleagues at work is one of the quickest and cheapest ways of reducing carbon emissions and cutting utility costs for your organization at scale.
Most organizations typically waste 20-30% of the energy they buy (#CarbonTrust).
Governments are asking businesses to improve their energy efficiency at least by 20% to help meet our Zero Carbon climate change goals (#CleanGrowthStrategy).
Others say we all need to improve our energy productivity by at least 3% every year (#ThreePercentClub).
We know many organizations struggle with their programs and become disillusioned as energy savings don’t result or because they quickly fall away over time.
How do you create the green spark and engage colleagues to deliver quick wins, i.e., develop your own big green solution?
Once you do, how do you generate the momentum and benefits longer-term?
There aren’t many step by step guides available that help take the mystery out of behavior change.
It’s not as hard as you think!
When we first started with people solutions, we massively surprised ourselves on what we achieved. So we thought we’d share some of our ideas & approaches within courses – hopefully to give you ideas & help you avoid the usual pitfalls & discover benefits for yourself.
A big green solution need to blend technical, strategic & behavior change measures
TECHNOLOGY alone will not solve it all
Many of us focus 99% of our effort on the technical solutions, but this often requires large investment & only delivers half of the savings.
Best practice STRATEGY tells us:
- First focus on lean conservation measures to minimize costs & right-size investments.
- Then, think about more efficient & clean energy technologies you can invest in.
- Finally, use green energy supply options to lower the carbon impact of your energy use (#EnergyHiearachy).
Put PEOPLE first at the heart of success
Save 5-20%+ energy consumption by involving and engaging people (#EnvironmentAgency).
People approaches yield high ROI (#CDP reports say > 124 kgCO2/$ spent & IRR >72% for behavior change measures).
The ‘Big 3’ Ideas to help you deliver success:
What’s going to drive this for you? What’s going to make it rewarding & fun?
How are we going to deliver continual & sustainable improvements longer-term?
Step 1: Engagement
Center on engagement to get commitment and setup a vision to kick off with
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
US Culture Specialist
What’s your current utilities bill?
For your organization and metered zones:
- What areas are you targeting? Schedule your local sites, buildings and areas being targeted
- What was your consumption for last year? This is for each utility source and area
- Are there any expected changes that will impact on energy and water use?
What are the needs & expectations?
Talk to local top managers and other stakeholders:
- Are there any energy and environmental policies in place?
- Are there existing plans and budgets for improvement programs?
- Does the organization use management standards? E.g. ISO 50001 for energy
- What are the legal and other stakeholder requirements that apply?
It is essential key top managers are on board:
- To understand opportunities, challenges & priorities
- To ensure plans and roles are joined-up, approved and resources made available
- To communicate the importance of better performance and savings made
- To ensure buy in for performance measures and interest in the results
- To celebrate success and say thank you to the everyday champions involved
We find many organizations still typically rely too much on awareness-raising campaigns and top-down standards & assurance processes, so miss out on potential results.
A starting vision: Local Ownership
Step 2: Accommodate inspiration
Target the Win for the colleagues and the community through accommodating inspiration
How good is energy & environmental performance in practice?
Anyone can be an everyday champion by typically spending 20 minutes a day thinking about & working on how to do things better.
Set-up regular Energy Time
Step 3: Coordination for better service
Coordinate your approach on continuing improving service and the Win for Customers
Target avoidable waste that adds no value
Use streamlined ISO 50001 for coordinated continual improvement
Challenge why Energy is Consumed
Heating, ventilating & air-conditioning systems are typically the largest energy consumers in most buildings; many systems run for longer than needed. A hospital reviewed the operating times of their HVAC systems & found that most could be switched off for 2 to 3 hours a day without affecting comfort, saving 10% in fan running costs >> These quick wins saved $107,000 a year & set up their catalyst for change.
Step 4: Coordination for better returns
Coordinate your approach to also deliver the Win for the business partners involved
Focus coordination with Pareto 80/20
Coordinate communications to colleagues
- Everything communicates during change; even doing nothing shows people what you expect them to do!
- Use every day and consistent language and positioning across all the channels; be mindful of being too technical
- Create stories out of the actions being taken and their related successes
Coordination for continually better value
Too much equipment still runs 24/7. For escalators, the simple thing to do is to turn them off overnight, when not in use, & maximize this “off” time — this generates interest & quick win savings. Only then is it worth investing in run-on-demand controls to slow escalators down during lull periods. A local everyday champion can optimize the controls; savings of $1,000–$2,000 a year per escalator is often possible. Further savings can then be made by making the stairs more attractive to use than the escalator!
Step 5: Collaboration
Connect together teams to generate the Win Win and energize change
Collaborate using local events
Develop Hearts and Minds that stick
'Win Win' is a Good Thing
Lighting in buildings can still account for 20% of total energy costs. Staff working in a shopping facility targeted poor lighting that was receiving customer complaints. Upgrading the light fittings not only reduced energy consumption by 60%, saving $19,000 a year with a 2½-year payback, but also significantly improved the lighting ambience in that area; a classic “win–win” for those involved.
Step 6: Momentum
Put in place ways to develop momentum for continual improvement
Principles for a Community of practice that sticks
For critical mass, we need at least 2-5% of colleagues to be everyday champions to lock it all in.
- Make it local - develop a strong local team, give everyone a compelling reason to get involved, and help them understand their local energy performance.
- Make it focused - focus and coordinate efforts for the 'Win Win' while also giving it a sense of urgency.
- Make it continual - reinforce and adapt for change, communicate and communicate again, and always ask what’s next?
- Make it desirable - celebrate the ‘Win for All of us’ through benefits for energy and sustainability, the organization and for the people involved.
- Make it theirs – develop and refine the solution so it belongs to everyone involved – follow your instincts; ultimately, you will know what works best for your organization…
Best of luck and enjoy the process!
The “Big Green” concept was born out of success of working with teams at an airport (2007-2010). We surprised ourselves delivering an average of 15% savings across the airport in less than three years; the best areas saving 30%+. Regular workshops and events helped turn discovery into success. Directors reinforced key priorities, celebrated industry awards and were confident in letting everyday champions lead it all up locally for themselves.
Written by James Brittain