Power to the people
“People tend to focus on individual efforts that are often related to purchasing – such as buying CFL bulbs or energy-efficient appliances – instead of considering that enormous savings can be reaped from broad-based energy-saving strategies with a systems approach.”
- Leadership sets the tone: Upper management leads by example, sets the tone with strong commitments to the programs and solid branding.
- Programs involve strong teams: In addition to green teams, programs feature a project committee and participation by peer champions.
- Smart use of communication tools: Programs reach out to their target audience through multiple channels, including emails, websites, public meetings, posters, and other visual prompts, like stickers.
- Use of multiple engagement techniques: Programs connect with building occupants through a variety of techniques to gauge interest and motivate employees and tenants toward greener behavior. Feedback, benign peer pressure, competition and rewards are among the most frequently used techniques.
Companies have long been committed to reducing energy consumption and/or emissions as part of environmental or risk management policies. While most often cost-driven, these reduction efforts have typically been disconnected from traditional economic incentives and business value creation. What other options exist?
Interestingly, the post Engage Your Employees: 5 Must-Dos In 2011 suggests "using social good as a Trojan horse for engagement." Connecting the dots between engagement and social responsibility is no longer the "wave of the future." It's what companies need to be doing now to get ahead. Value alignment around a common cause that transcends generational divides, gender and ethnicity is a sure-fire way to spark a sense of purpose and belonging. When your employees feel educated, inspired and empowered around the company's commitment to social responsibility, sustainability and citizenship, the real magic starts to happen. Energy efficiency is that very tool.
In fact, energy efficiency can be a gateway to wider business innovation and engage stakeholders in broader process evaluations. A quick guide to consider:
- Establish a baseline of consumption for benchmarking efforts.
- Create an energy policy for the business. Use your consumption information to identify areas of improvement.
- Implement behavior and usage modifications.
- Measure and monitor your progress.
- Communicate your success and appreciation to employees for taking eco-action.
Tying corporate sustainability initiatives to day-to-day processes makes CSR more personable to employees and helps them identify their role in corporate responsibility. Additionally, energy-efficient programs educate and inform workers of best practices in reducing energy consumption that can be applied at home and in the community, expanding eco-awareness and sustainability concepts from the workplace into the community for even greater energy savings.
Julie Urlaub is the founder and managing partner of Taiga Company, a sustainability social media consulting firm, where she aids clients to powerfully engage in sustainability-related issues and stakeholder communications in the social space. She can be contacted at www.taigacompany.com | @taigacompany | Facebook/TaigaCompany
Photo image courtesy of Our Everyday Earth - Green Blog.