According to the Energy Managers Association, as much as 40 per cent of energy reduction comes from ‘behaviour change’, making it a key part of the answer to energy saving over the long-term. But how do you engage your building occupiers or your employees in energy efficiency or your wider sustainability programme?

Steve Malkin, ceo, Planet First, presenting at EMEX London

Last week, Planet First ceo Steve Malkin and Planet First head of certification Monica Niermann were invited to present an answer to that question respectively at the Energy Management Exhibition in London and Greenbuild Expo in Manchester. But for those of you who were unable to come to either show, below we have summarised Steve’s presentation.

5 ways to engage people in energy efficiency

1. Purpose – make sure you start with a purpose and be specific about your objectives. Link your engagement programme with your company’s core values and mission. For example, Land Securities’ vision (http://www.landsecurities.com/sustainability/our-vision-strategy)’ – clearly embeds sustainability within its values. Linking to your core values will make any engagement programme much stickier. This will also make it easier to get buy-in from senior leaders, including your ceo.

2. Plan – planning is essential in any engagement programme. Firstly, you must set out the targets you can realistically achieve, ensuring you can measure them. So, for example, if you are asking your occupiers or your employees to recycle, you need to ensure you have the relevant data from your waste provider to determine whether or not your recycling is working. Once you’ve set your targets, then you can create your strategy. A good basis for a strategy is to break your year down into quarterly themes that are right for the organisations – these can be built around any number of awareness days such as Earth Hour, World Water Day, and so on.

3. Own – typically a sustainability programme is going to be delivered by your building occupiers or your employees, but often even if people care about the environment deeply, they don’t think they are responsible for it at work. Giving them ownership of the engagement programme is therefore essential. One way to do this is to create Sustainability Champions and green teams. For example, our employee engagement programme at ABG, a London accountant with 60 employees, achieved significant savings in costs of over £10,000 in a single year and carbon reductions of 25 per cent per employee.

4. Reward – it is important to incentivise participation in your sustainability programme from a cross section of employees or occupiers. To do this, you first need to understand their level of engagement with sustainability. Planet First is offering the chance to win a sustainability survey toolkit developed in partnership with Defra to identify your ‘Positive Greens’ from your ‘Honestly Disengaged’. Once you have done this you can offer freebies, prizes and other incentives that fit the profile of each person, thereby encouraging take-up in your programme from as many people as possible.

5. Communicate – with any engagement programme, it’s important you communicate it clearly and make it relevant to your audiences. Provide internal feedback and regular reporting. Brand your programme and use your media and communications channels to promote it. Create a content plan to maintain momentum throughout your programme and be creative about how you communicate it. Bidvest Foodservice’s plate2planet initiative is a great example of this in action. Its ‘one-stop-shop’ digital platform aims to address the growing demand in the food sector for useful and practical information about sustainability by sharing green knowledge, including ‘how to’ guides, case studies, handy tools, supply chain stories, guidance on regulations and best practice examples for those working in the industry.

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