How to Create an Energy Awareness Campaign

Thu, Oct 7, 2010

Employee Involvement

Energy consumption accounts for a large chunk of an organization’s operating costs. Energy efficiency practices help reduce energy costs without compromising service. In addition to saving money and helping to improve the bottom line, energy efficiency supports the environment and improves employee morale. According to Green Workplace Survey, environmental programs improve employee morale by 43% and increase employee loyalty by 16%.

An awareness program on energy efficiency can help you achieve the benefits of cost savings and environmental support. The success of an awareness program requires buy-in and involvement from your employees. The following steps are a guide to help you create an employee awareness program that should help your business become more energy efficient at little or no cost.

Step 1: Create an Energy Efficiency Goal

Any program you implement should let you measure its success. In order to evaluate the success of an Energy Awareness Program you will need to define what you want to achieve. Create an Energy Efficiency Goal which is specific, measurable and trackable. The areas of focus could be reduced energy consumption, annual cost savings on energy or reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. For example, you could have a goal to reduce consumption of X units of energy or save $ by a specific date.

When Catalyst Paper, leading producers of mechanical printing papers, launched an employee energy awareness campaign in 2006, its objective was to educate and engage its employees in energy management. It set a goal to reduce electricity consumption costs by $5 million annually.

Step 2: Create your Team

To implement the Awareness Program, you will need a team with committed and enthusiastic players. The energy team will identify energy waste and opportunities for saving energy. They will encourage and advise colleagues on energy savings. Also, recruit and appoint an Energy Champion who will represent the awareness program and implement it as a high-priority project. The Champion may also become the program spokesperson.

Next build a team from all parts of the organization. The team should ideally have members that possess a wide range of skills, knowledge and interests. Assign tasks to the team members. Make sure their roles and responsibilities are clear and agreed upon.

The following are some suggested tasks for the team:

  • Design promotional material
  • Stick posters and signs in designated areas about energy saving
  • Coordinate events and contests
  • Write articles for newsletters
  • Track energy consumption and savings

Step 3: Create a communication plan

Once you have an Energy Goal set, you should now have a communication plan to develop awareness.

Program Message

The awareness program should convey a message that acts as a basis for action. A good message inspires and motivates employees to save energy. Make your message easy, brief, consistent and relevant. It should be repeated frequently. More importantly it should convey to employees that it is easy to be energy efficient.

For example:
Save Energy – it’s easy
Not in use? Save energy

Communication Channel

To inspire environmental action, you will have to communicate your message through various outlets. When communicated consistently and frequently the desired actions for energy savings will likely increase the awareness level.

Here are some ideas for communication tools:

  • Newsletters
  • Pamphlets
  • Posters
  • Stickers and signs
  • Videoclips
  • Email reminders
  • Web pages
  • Tent cards for program updates

Email a series of newsletters at various stages of the campaign to drive home the message. Send continual reminders to maintain momentum. Send email notices focusing on “how to” messages such as “how-to save paper” or “how-to make your computer energy efficient.” Posters can be used to make contest announcements, guest speakers, and encourage participation. Place them in high traffic areas such as the cafeteria, lobby, waiting area, and elevators. Place signs near equipment to encourage action such as “turn-off the light” or “print on both sides.”

The University of Ottawa adopted the following communication channels to inspire students to save energy.

  • They published energy related articles in its campus newspaper, once a month for two to five months.
  • They created a show-and-tell kiosk with posters and graphics with information on energy-related issues.

Step 4: Implement the plan

The next step is to put the plan into action. Promote the campaign’s launch at least two weeks in advance. Start the campaign with an event, presentation or a workshop to build excitement. Try to link the start of the campaign with a change you are planning, for example, installation of smart meters, or energy retrofits of CFL bulbs. Adapt the program as you go.

Here are some ideas for encouraging energy saving activities:

  • Contest between departments for least energy usage.
  • Initiate a car pooling or public transit usage rewards program.
  • Energy audit at nights to check if computers, lights and equipment are turned off for departments or groups of people.

Step 5: Review and reward progress

The effectiveness of your awareness program can be measured with results against goals. Monitor, measure and report the results of the campaign every week or every month. The more frequently the better. At a minimum measure the extent of energy saved. Energy saved can be calculated by season, building type, work area, etc. To measure the success of the program qualitatively, try to understand the actions people took to reduce energy and the effectiveness the program activities had in influencing those actions.

Report the results and tailor it to the audience. In reporting the results, consider the following:

  • State why the program was successful and why not.
  • Talk about how the program fits into the organizations energy management plan.
  • Report the money saved on energy over a period of time like 6 months or a year and highlight the positive effects on the company bottom line and the environment.
  • Display the positive results regularly in bulletin boards, website and newsletters.

Your employees are your front lines and they play a pivotal role in this campaign. Celebrate your success and reward those who deserve acknowledgement.

Give non-financial incentives like:

  • Certificates of achievement.
  • Public recognition of employees who helped saved energy in the newsletter.
  • In-house energy management award for outstanding contribution.

Adapt the program to receive better response. Use the results of your program to revise the program further. Consider the following questions for a follow-up program:

  • What communication tools worked well?
  • How can you keep the message fresh?
  • Are there new avenues to save energy?

Once you achieve success with the awareness program maybe you can have internal energy saving contests between departments to save energy and money for the company. Remember it’s easy saving energy and it’s fun too!

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