When you’re looking to cut energy costs, it’s easy to focus on big projects, such as lighting upgrades. Although these are important, you should also consider how energy is used in your facility. After all, those shiny new lights will still waste energy if left on in empty rooms. By combining a program of targeted upgrades with energy-saving practices, you can create a conservation culture that reduces operating costs, lowers emissions and enhances your public image.


Transforming your organization


A conservation culture includes everyone in your organization and involves a new way of thinking about energy use. Change is often gradual and involves a multi-step process. The following are key components in building a conservation culture:


  1. Make conservation a part of business strategy. A successful energy management program should be a part of your overall business strategy and integrated with other improvement efforts, such as productivity, quality and safety. To ensure success, establish goals, track progress and focus on continuous improvement.
  2. Lead by example. Upper management must take the lead by implementing conservation measures in their own offices and departments. This will demonstrate to the rest of the organization that energy conservation is more than just a policy statement.
  3. Educate. Teach employees about their role in energy conservation. A forklift operator and a marketing strategist use energy differently and require specific training to help them understand how to reduce energy use in their job.
  4. Assign responsibilities. 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. Hold energy competitions between departments and reward the winners.
  7. Get the message out. Communicate regularly to reinforce the importance of saving energy, as well as highlight improvements, and discuss future goals and objectives. Meetings are a great way to recognize individual or departmental achievements. Company newsletters and corporate intranet sites are effective means for regular communication.


Case studies in corporate cultural change


These organizations used a combination of education, expectations and rewards to change how employees think about energy use.


Company rewards good energy behavior. To encourage energy-efficient practices, Merck & Co. organized groups of employees to do spot checks of individual workstations and issued tickets and reward stubs for personal energy use. For example, a workstation with a computer left on overnight is issued a ticket. Reward stubs, given to those found to be fully compliant, are entered into prize drawings. The cumulative efforts of individual staff members resulted in overall energy savings of nearly 10%.


Employees save energy at home and work. Energy conservation specialists at Pitney Bowes teach staff how to save energy at home and work. Employees learn about the importance of turning off lights and equipment, even dressing for comfort to help minimize space conditioning load. The company has been acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a commuter-friendly employer.


For more information, see LES’ energy-saving tips and Energy-Saving Tips for Everyone from ENERGY STAR®.