Four easy tips on guiding employees to greener energy habits

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Employees' behavior can make the difference between whether the energy strategy of any business or establishment produces outstanding results or just insignificant savings.

In a report published last year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy distills five case studies on the subject to offer advice. ACEEE Senior Researcher Shui Bin took a look at the federal "Green the Capitol" program in the United States, the Empire State Building's energy management program for tenants, and programs in Canada at a utility, a government building and a university-owned hospital.

Based on that review, Bin found four elements common to each of the efforts:

1. Leadership Set the Tone. Upper management led by example, set the tone with strong commitments to the programs and solid branding.

2. Programs Involved Strong Teams. In addition to green teams, programs featured a project committee and participation by peer champions.

3. Smart Use of Communication Tools. Programs reached out to their target audience through multiple channels: emails, websites, public meetings, posters and other visual prompts, like stickers.

Often it is as simple as the joke sticker that says “Would the last person to leave please turn off the building”.

4. Use of Multiple Engagement Techniques. Programs connected with building occupants through a variety of techniques to engage interest and motivate employees and tenants toward greener behavior. Feedback, benign peer pressure, competition and rewards were among the techniques used most frequently.

"Most notable is the degree to which the support of upper management, which is strongly stressed in all of the reviewed cases, proves to be critical to the development and success of an energy behavior program in the workplace," Bin said in the report.
Bin also noted that the most successful efforts integrated strong programs focused on behavior in broader, often comprehensive, sustainability projects.
The Green the Capitol program, for example, saw a 74 percent reduction in carbon emissions within 18 months of its launch as a result of combined efforts that included using energy efficient equipment and products, changing the types of fuel used and changing behavior.

But there is also something else to consider and that is the initiatives that often come from the grassroots, from the employees but which are far too often are stifled by management.

Energy savings and greening the workplace in general must be a two-way street and a two-way communication.

The Empire State Building, the site of a much-publicized retrofit and an innovative green leasing/tenant management program, expects to reduce energy use by 31 percent.
Another ACEEE report, which is being released later today, says Americans should "think bigger" in their approach to saving energy.
People tend to focus on individual efforts that are often related to purchasing - such as buying CFL bulbs or energy-efficient appliances - instead of considering that enormous savings can be reaped from broad-based energy-saving strategies with a systems approach, the report notes.

According to ACEEE, the U.S. could reduce energy consumption by more than 50 percent, save consumers more than $300 billion a year, and add nearly two million jobs by 2050 by following "a more productive investment pattern" that includes consideration of industrial processes and improvement to infrastructure.

Much the same would also apply the the United Kingdom and one but needs to look at London, and not just the financial sector, and see how many offices remain lit all night every night and home many computers, etc., remain turned on.

This is an energy wastage that, if tackled, could make it possible to take many of the dangerous electricity generating plant, such as and especially nuclear, off line and close them.

Councils too are major culprits in Britain as to energy wastage when lights are left on in closed down building, for instance, in case someone breaks in, hurts himself and then sues the council for damages.

Don't laugh... that is the reason given and apparently it has happened already. And I always thought that every self-respecting burglar carries a flashlight.

© 2012