Key Points

  • A conservation culture involves the entire organization and focuses on how energy is used.
  • Upper management must make conservation a business strategy, and lead by example.
  • Important steps include education, assigning responsibilities, and recognizing achievements.

In an effort to manage energy costs, organizations often focus on large energy-efficiency projects, such as lighting upgrades or heating and cooling retrofits. While these are important, a successful energy-management program should also take into account how energy is used. For example, an energy-efficient lighting upgrade, combined with an employee-awareness program to turn off lights when not needed, can optimize savings. By combining a sustained program of targeted upgrades and maintenance with energy-saving practices, you can create a conservation culture that will reduce operating costs, lower emissions, and improve your public image.

Changing the corporate culture: a multistep process

A conservation culture involves thinking about energy use in a new way; and it should include everyone in your organization. Change is often gradual and involves a multistep process. The following are key components in building a conservation culture:

  1. Make conservation part of your business strategy. A successful energy-management program should be a part of your overall business strategy, integrated with other improvement efforts, such as productivity, quality, safety, and environmental concerns. To ensure success, it is important to establish energy-saving goals, track progress, and focus on continuous improvement.
  2. Lead by example. Upper management must lead by exampleincorporating energy conservation measures in their own offices and departments. This will demonstrate to employees that conservation is not just another policy statement; it is a daily job requirement.
  3. Educate. Teach employees about their role in energy conservation. For example, a forklift operator and a marketing strategist use energy in different ways, and they require specific training to help them understand how to reduce energy use in their job. Department managers and staff can work together to develop individual energy action plans.
  4. Assign responsibilities. While it is important to educate staff about energy conservation, interest may fade quickly. To maintain interest, make energy conservation a part of everyone’s job responsibilities. Assign energy-saving goals to individual departments and employees (if appropriate) and hold them accountable.
  5. Encourage interaction. In the age of social media, interaction is the key to participation. Solicit energy-saving ideas from staff through a suggestion box, corporate intranet, or the company Facebook page. Award prizes for the best ideas.
  6. Recognize accomplishments. People like to be noticed and incentives serve as powerful motivators. Acknowledge employees or departments for energy-saving achievements and offer bonuses or rewards. Contests are a great way to bring out competitive juices and encourage participation. Hold energy-saving competitions between departments and reward the winner.
  7. Get the message out. Communicate regularly to reinforce the importance of energy efficiency, as well as highlight improvements and discuss future goals and objectives. Meetings are a great way to recognize individual or departmental achievements. All-staff emails, company newsletters, and corporate intranet sites are all effective means of regular communication. Energy posters located in break rooms, rest rooms, and other common areas serve as reminders to conserve energy.

For more information and resources on how to optimize energy management by getting your entire organization involved, see Raise Awareness from the U.S. Department of Energy

This article previously appeared in the Avista Utilities Energy Solutions newsletter, and is used with permission

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