Empower employees to raise energy awareness and become integral parts of your company’s energy efficiency goals.
Human Resources (HR) has a valuable role in raising energy awareness in your company.
Leveraging employee engagement and getting leadership on board helps drive higher savings with little to no upfront costs.
Providing actionable feedback and using energy saving competitions helps companies capture more value.
Maximizing energy efficiency is vital for any organization wanting to reduce costs and emissions, but getting started can be daunting—especially for businesses without internal sustainability expertise.
For these companies, it often falls to the human resources (HR) team to raise energy awareness.
Here’s the challenge: HR teams influencing their energy efficiency performance usually don’t have access to clean energy solutions, or even sustainability training.
Companies starting out on their efficiency journey first need to manage their energy use manually. For this reason, they need to start by building a corporate culture of energy efficiency, and enlist employees to help.
Building strong energy habits lays the groundwork to introduce energy efficiency solutions. After all, any purchased efficiency solution needs to complement, not compensate for, a company’s energy culture.
Start your energy efficiency initiative in October
Energy efficiency is important throughout the year, but October has been designated Energy Awareness Month. Several other energy-related days occur in October, including Energy Efficiency Day (October 5) and Energy Star Day (October 12).
Organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DoE) hope the change in seasons spurs companies to change their energy habits as well.
“October is a great month to recognize Energy Awareness Month because falling temperatures can lead to higher energy bills,” says Robert Williams, director at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
Leveraging employees to drive sustainability is important, as is ensuring buy-in from an engaged leadership team. Distributing responsibility for sustainability across the company ensures everyone keeps energy awareness top of mind.
Engaging employees as members of a community rather than merely as energy consumers goes a long way to making sustainability programs more effective.
According to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, “by setting energy savings goals, assigning energy champions and providing employees with feedback on how their energy use compares to that of their colleagues, businesses can reduce their electricity use by 10 percent [on average].”
Once you’ve proven those savings out and attached a dollar value to them, that will enable you to make the business case for energy efficiency technology to your finance and facilities teams. And broad employee support strengthens that case, while building confidence as they see their initiatives succeed.
Good energy habits need engaged employees
Realizing your business’ sustainability goals starts with bringing all employees on board. While larger companies benefit from dedicated sustainability teams (chief sustainability officers (CSOs) are one of the fastest growing C-Suite positions), small and mid-market businesses usually don’t have that privilege.
That’s why awareness raising is so important—employees are your most valuable energy efficiency advocates.
Appointing employees as energy champions on a rotating basis (weekly or monthly) is a great way to ensure your business always has a point person for its sustainability drive. Operating on a rotational basis also makes sure all employees become familiar with energy efficiency measures.
Feedback is important for maintaining momentum, and can even increase energy saving results on its own.
Energy champions help encourage and remind other employees about sustainability efforts. This can include simple habits like making sure lighting is turned off in unoccupied areas or devices are turned off when not in use. Even such small steps can lead to serious savings with little-to-no costs.
For example, one company changed its workflow to get employees to shut off over 100 standing fans when not in use. This measure saved the company $6,600 in annual electricity use, while costing just $70 to implement.
Fostering good energy habits takes time, and energy champions help leadership communicate sustainability goals to the wider company. Energy champions can also play a role in leading training sessions, provide weekly energy updates, and give feedback on energy savings to employees.
Feedback is important for maintaining momentum, and can even increase energy saving results on its own. For example, UK government offices saw an increase in savings when they bundled smart meters with real-time displays.
These displays let employees see the impact they were having and how other offices were doing, resulting in a 2–4 percent increase in savings compared to offices without displays.
Competing to save energy boosts results
Leveraging savings feedback helps maximize the value from sustainability drives. An effective way to use feedback is to incorporate it into competitive efficiency campaigns. Having different teams, departments or facilities compete to save the most energy increases realized savings.
The Big Switch Off campaign in the UK involved 18,000 government employees and leveraged their competitive spirit to instill good energy habits (e.g. lowering heating and lighting settings) and reward top savers. After one year, the initiative led to 17 percent lower energy usage.
Similarly, many companies participate in what are known as energy treasure hunts—initiatives that encourage (and reward) employees to discover savings opportunities at all levels across an organization.
For example, HanesBrands used energy treasure hunts as a part of its efforts to find savings opportunities that required no or minimal funding. Doing so helped change how the business thought about energy. HanesBrands managed to identify $4 million worth of energy savings in the first year alone.
Pharmaceutical company Merck also used treasure hunts across multiple facilities to find $12 million in savings from just five facilities. These savings also fulfilled 20 percent of Merck’s emissions reduction pledge.
Launching energy-savings initiatives involves many steps, but they set the groundwork for future endeavors, and help fund future energy efficiency projects.
EnPowered supports energy efficiency plans
Finding the funding for maturing energy efficiency plans is often difficult, as more expensive solutions are often viewed as optional expenses. Businesses who have the most success reducing their energy costs view energy-efficiency solutions as sources of revenue.
Energy efficiency measures generate savings and pay for themselves. This is especially important for companies with limited budgets that nevertheless want to reduce energy use.
At EnPowered we focus on providing companies with access to innovative payment options that allow them to leverage future energy savings to boost their efficiency budget today, all without upfront costs.
Ready to learn more? Reach out today to see how EnPowered helps companies budget for energy efficiency and accelerate the transition to the clean economy.