This article on Plan for Behaviour Change was published in the Energy in Buildings and Industry journal, Series 18, Module 09, April 2021, by James Brittain, John Mulholland and Jes Rutter, Approved EnCO Practitioners . Find your downloadable copy below.

Leonard Bernstein, the well-known American composer, once said: “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time”. The time organisations have to accelerate towards Net Zero is shrinking. As part of this, there are increasing pressures on energy users from employees, customers, shareholders, regulators, and other interested parties to significantly improve levels of energy efficiency throughout their operations and processes.

Evidence suggests that behaviour change offers around 50 per cent of the total potential energy savings available. The other 50 per cent comes from technology and yet, as important as it is, technology typically gets 95 per cent of the focus. A better balance is required to ensure that the hidden and largely untapped savings available from behaviour change are realised.

Behavior Change

Behaviour change is considered in its broadest sense, targeting attitudes, behaviours and decisions implemented by those who influence energy performance as well as those who have direct hands-on control of equipment and systems. Getting behaviours right also enhances and protects the legacy benefits of technology investments as they rely on sociotechnical systems for success.

Energy Conscious Organisation (EnCO) is a framework developed by Energy Services & Technology Association and the Energy Institute to help incorporate people measures into energy management strategies and plans.

The vision is to excite and equip enough colleagues to challenge the norm and to encourage widespread adoption of energy efficiency good practices throughout the organisation.

At the heart of the EnCO framework is the EnCO Matrix.

This can be used to review the effectiveness of approach across five key pillars: engagement, alertness, skills, recognition and adaption (EASRA).

The matrix is based on the concept of ‘congruence’ to facilitate balance across the five pillars so behaviour change interventions support and reinforce each other holistically.

A visual profile is made by marking points across the grid for each pillar against the improving scale of achievement. The shape of the profile then demonstrates how strategies can be better balanced and improved in delivering outcomes.

Fig. 1 shows the EnCo matrix with an example ‘jagged’ profile.

Fig. 1. The EnCO Matrix with a ‘Jagged’ profile

 Learning objectives include:

  • consider the imperatives for change;
  • describe how to highlight reality;
  • explain key features of a balanced approach; and
  • create a plan that propels momentum.

A useful feature of the Matrix is that it facilitates conversations with colleagues about current levels of energy performance, opportunities and challenges. One helpful way to do this is to focus on capabilities, opportunities and motivations to change behaviour (COM-B). 

The matrix is sufficiently simple that any organisation can adapt the wording to better suit their goals, culture and operations.

The imperative for change, of course, is not driven by Net Zero targets alone but also needs to take into account and balance other stakeholder needs and expectations such as better customer service, cutting costs and enhancing reputation.

You could ask three questions:

  • if we are to achieve Net Zero, where on the Matrix do you need to be? (B) 
  • where are we now? (A) 
  • how do we get from A to B? 

In practice, there can be significant differences in observations described by a target audience, particularly from those with differing roles and perspectives. A constructive use of the matrix is to take the differing views, discuss why they are different and use this discussion to form a consensus reality position on the EnCO Matrix. This will give agreement on ‘where are we now?’

The EnCO profile and score, often along with anecdotal observations, forms a benchmark to measure future progress against. 

Download your own PDF version of the article

This article was  published  in Energy in Industry and Buildings Journal in 2021. Click below to download the original pdf version.

A Balanced High EnCO profile across all pillars is associated with a mature energy management programme that accelerates progress towards sustainable Net Zero goals.

Low scores across some or all pillars are indicative of significant opportunities to improve an approach.

A strategic gap analysis is therefore used to compare the ‘desired’ position (often targeting three to five years ahead) with the current profile, to feed into the development for the catalyst for change.

To bridge the gap, change makers need to understand what motivates the people involved on a personal level. People’s actions are often driven by emotive connections that come about from connecting with colleagues, having fun, a better workplace, better skills, achievement, recognition and reward. A successful catalyst often includes targeted co-benefits resulting in a ‘win-win’.

The business case is set up by focusing on the key strategic activities which make the biggest difference in delivering the required goals. This should address the organisation’s readiness to deliver change (available resources, knowledge etc), key barriers (capabilities, attitudes etc) and its ability to sustain change. T

o develop a good plan, focus on overcoming any deficiencies across the EASRA pillars, rather than specifically following a framework.

Figure 2 shows the variety of different possible Matrix profiles.

Fig. 2 The variety of different possible  Matrix profiles

1) Balanced Low

Profile 1 is uniformly low across all pillars. This is often underpinned by low overall engagement. Energy performance, for example, may have been marginalised because it has been overly delegated to a specialist, service partner or aM&T system.

Having top managers on board is essential. They need to demonstrate their commitment by defining a compelling vision, providing the resources needed and taking interest in progress made.

There also needs to be a strategy to engage Significant Energy Users (SEUs), those who can impact on or influence significant energy use. This includes HR, procurement and development colleagues as well as building users, facilities and operational teams. Don’t forget consultants, suppliers and contractors.

All Energy Users (AEUs) also need to understand the energy policies in place, the benefits of improved energy performance and their roles and responsibilities.

The overall plan and channels used should achieve engagement and also momentum for a balanced approach.

A high profile launch event can create a good splash to raise awareness but has little momentum.

Digital or print communications also often have limited shelf-life. Training, performance appraisals, incentives and suggestion schemes are all examples of channels that offer more momentum.

2) Unbalanced

A profile highly developed in Engagement and Adaption but which lags in other areas operates in a positive atmosphere but lacks substance.

Colleagues being alert to avoidable energy waste, before investing in clean and green technologies, is a fundamental principle of the energy hierarchy.

AEUs need to be alert to the impact of their activities on energy performance. An SEU may negatively impact on overall performance, due to increased energy use, when making operational decisions for seemingly good reasons.

Command and control approaches with too many organisational procedures can reduce alertness. Nudge, prod or persuasion techniques are generally more effective; sharing energy consumption profiles, for example, can help highlight opportunities.

Critical mass theory implies that we need at least 2-5 per cent of colleagues taking simple actions every day to reach a tipping point of energy consciousness for lasting change. For an organisation of 4,000 people, this means involving at least 80 SEUs.

Energy champions can influence others by example. A network of volunteers can promote energy saving values and connect colleagues together. To be effective, they need to be carefully recruited, trained and supported.

For a balanced approach, colleagues need to be highly motivated and highly aware. Asking people to rate their awareness and motivation levels can be a useful way to track levels of alertness while getting them to think more about opportunities and getting new champions on board.

3) High Peak

Profile 3 is highly developed in one pillar only. This could be any element and is most commonly related to the style or strengths of the manager leading the programme.

As well as motivation and opportunity, people need to have the capability to deliver change. Teams need to have a balance in skills to implement an integrated approach, highly developed across all pillars.

Training is often a key strategic activity that helps raise the other pillars simultaneously. A training strategy should be driven by a training needs analysis, mapped across the key audiences. Colleagues need to know what they are expected to do and be competent so actions are quick, easy and intuitive for those involved.

The whole team has a key role to communicate the vision and to lead by example. It is important to be able to communicate well with colleagues to gain and build trust. Collaborative workshops and events are effective ways to bring people and teams together to develop alertness, desire and capability and trial solutions at the same time.

HR colleagues are often essential key connector champions for continual learning and up-skilling.

4) Low Valley 

Highly developed in all but one pillar highlights the need to develop this one aspect to fully benefit from the other activities.

This could be any element but quite often what’s lacking is recognition. Robust data systems are needed to track savings against baselines and targets. Ideally, this should disaggregate interventions for detailed evaluation. Longer-term monitoring and targeting is essential because impacts can dissipate over time, but this doesn’t have to be complex.

Full adherence with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) is desirable but is not always practical; it is the most widely used protocol for quantifying results from investments.

A measurement and verification (M&V) plan should be agreed prior to the programme. Involving stakeholders to develop the methodology ensures it’s owned by the people involved. Methods to adjust baselines for both routine (e.g. weather) and non-routine adjustments (e.g. changes in floor area) should be considered.

A balance of measures is also required to sustain and propel momentum. At high level, energy performance can be measured in absolute terms at whole-facility level. This verifies total savings but, as this is a lagging (output) measure, this can’t influence momentum.

Indicative measures are used to explain why performance has changed. System energy productivity or utilisation intensity measures require investment in sub-metering and a sufficient run-up period to calibrate baseline models.

Leading (input) indicators offer an opportunity to control momentum but do not guarantee success; it can be difficult to define which measures are best. Scorecards can track observed behaviours and team actions against targets. The repertoire would be specific to the organisation, site or team. 

Dashboards, balanced scorecards or crediting systems can be used to help facilitate quicker and better decisions, incentivisation and celebrating success. Do not rely too heavily on incentivisation as there’s a risk of reversal if the incentive is taken away.

Focus on a simple strategic set of concise measures for which everyone understands how they contribute to strategic goals. Beware of data overload, data rich and information poor (DRIP syndrome).

            The energy landscape is continually changing and this is becoming more dynamic as the pressures to improve energy performance increase. 

5) Jagged

A mix of some developed pillars with others not so developed is likely to be typical for most organisations. An uneven profile highlights the weaknesses that can undermine the strengths.

Organisations need to be able to continually adapt to plug the gaps and respond to minimise risk and maximise opportunities in a timely way to sustain and propel momentum.

The energy landscape is continually changing and this is becoming more dynamic as the pressures to improve energy performance increase. 

Surveillance controls monitor changes in stakeholder requirements as well as internal factors and external threats. Continually check that goals are still realistic and achievable, now and in the future.

A good plan needs to be agile focused on the key strategic activities, with a clear line of sight to the strategic objectives.

Adaptations are about continually increasing the means and reducing barriers to increase capability, opportunity or motivation. 

ISO 50001 is the energy management system standard that helps target the key activities. As well as energy policies, processes and action plans, the standard focuses on operational controls and design procurement standards to sustain behaviours. Energy and management reviews, objectives and targets and strategic controls are used to self-propel momentum. 

General George C Marshall, famous for his World War 2 planning and his plan to rebuild Europe, said: “The one great element in continuing the success of an offensive is maintaining the momentum.”

6) Balanced High 

Highly developed across all pillars generally at levels 3 or 4 is indicative of the well balance and mature approach of an EnCO.

EnCOs are more sustainable, cost effective and collaborative. The business case for interventions to get to the EnCO level comes from defining and questioning reality by asking the right questions at the right time, and the EASRA framework can facilitate this process.

Is everyone engaged in the right way? Are all teams alert to the energy opportunities? Do they have the right skills to exploit them? Are you recognising, measuring and reporting results? Do you need to adapt your policies/ processes to drive continual improvement? What’s next to guarantee momentum?

There needs to be a compelling vision and clear balanced plan in place with the sense of urgency. Align big ideas with strategy in a way that will excite decision makers and colleagues alike.

There also needs to be a strong team in place, with clear roles and responsibilities. Remember people often don’t like change. Don’t expect results too quickly – it may take time.

Don’t overcomplicate it, keep it simple. Aim to balance quick wins with longer-term actions. Pareto’s 80/20 principle encourages us to target the 20 per cent of the scope that yields 80 per cent of the results.

Overall, the plan will depend on the organisation; there’s no silver bullet, every organisation is different. The focus often should be on blending people and technical solutions, with targeted organisational strategic controls alongside.

Tactical techniques support strategic activities and there are many to choose from; EnCO defines over 140 different interventions. Organisations will need their own unique combination to deliver change for themselves.

Any organisation can become an EnCO by demonstrating ‘Balanced High’ achieving outcomes cross the five EnCO pillars: Engagement, Alertness, Skills, Recognition and Adaption.

EnCO registration and display of the logo act as evidence of good practice to shareholders, regulators, customers and colleagues through externally verified recognition. Becoming part of the wider EnCO community also enables sharing of good practice to further drive the continual improvement mindset needed.

Registered EnCO Consultants (status gained through training) and Approved EnCO Practitioners (with proven experience) can support organisations to achieve the EnCO status.


  1. Case-studies and process, EnCO Website at
  2. Making change the norm, by Jes Rutter, Energy in Buildings and Industry Magazine, Feb 2021
  3. Energy consciousness has never been more important, by Jes Rutter, Energy World, Jan 2021
  4. Tools and techniques to deliver behaviour change, by James Brittain, CPD module 06, Series 16, Energy in Buildings and Industry Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018
  5. Energy management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, BS EN ISO 50001:2018
  6. International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol, Core Concepts, EVO 10000 – 1.2016
  7. Behaviour change for low-cost energy savings, by James Brittain, CPD module 02, Series 14, Energy in Buildings and Industry Magazine, June 2016
  8. Ten steps to change, by John Mulholland, Energy in Buildings and Industry Magazine, July/August 2014.


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