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Energy awareness campaigns and surveys

The importance of building occupants, such as staff and students, in reducing energy consumption is often overlooked. This is frequently because behaviour is deemed to be too difficult or expensive to influence. It certainly requires persistence and a one-off burst of effort is very unlikely to produce long term results. If, say, you could save £100,000 pa by spending £20,000 pa on an expertly designed campaign why would you not do so?

In particular, it is important to understand the knowledge and motivation of people before trying to influence them so a correctly designed survey is a crucial starting point for a campaign.

In this article, John Mulholland,John Mulholandour People Solutions Director, explains how Awareness Surveys can provide the valuable information that you need to design a cost-effective campaign and also recruit volunteer Energy Champions.

John has 30 years’ experience of designing and running energy/environmental awareness campaigns and is a leading UK authority on this aspect of change management.

He covers the following topics:

  • The importance of building occupants
  • Energy awareness campaigns
  • Motivation and awareness surveys
  • Motivation and awareness matrix
  • Benefits of a survey
  • How do they work?

You might also like to read these related articles:

Energy champions – are they effective?
Sustainability by stealth
Getting everyone saving energy with ISO 50001

The importance of building occupants

Drivers for reducing energy consumption include:

  • cost reduction
  • environmental improvement
  • legislative compliance
  • risk reduction
  • health & safety
  • reputation and corporate social responsibility
  • improved working environment

The Government has set a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 (based on 1990) with an interim target of 34% by 2020. These are absolute reductions and not reductions relative to a business as usual scenario. To achieve such savings in an organisation requires vision, leadership and appropriate resources.

Whatever your motivation, to be successful in making substantial carbon, energy and cost reductions all three of the following areas need to be effectively addressed.

Technical 3450_insight14-pic1 - - beckySolutions – improving the energy efficiency of buildings and equipment then perhaps considering on-site renewables

Information Solutions – monitoring and targeting to detecting waste and taking corrective action

People Solutions – behavioural change, awareness raising and training

Very few organisation give sufficient attention to all of these and, arguably, behavioural change is the most badly neglected. An excellent way of engaging staff is to design and run an effective energy awareness campaign.

Energy awareness campaigns

Running these campaigns requires resources and careful planning but the results can be extremely effective.

Max de Pree in his book Leadership is an Art said that the first responsibility of a leader is to define “reality”. To lead people into the future, it is important to know where people are now, where they need to get to and the best means of achieving the goals. So before running an energy or environmental awareness campaign, it is important to answer fundamental questions such as the following.

  • What do staff already know?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What is the best way of communicating?
  • What motivates or demotivates?
  • What are the opportunities?
  • What are the barriers?

Motivation and awareness surveys

A properly designed survey can quickly provide answers to these vital questions.

It is important to measure two key elements:

  • Awareness - what people know (knowledge)
  • Motivation - what moves people (internal drivers)

Surveys need to be tailored to individual organisations. The questions are usually mostly ‘drop and click’ multiple choice but some questions may require respondents to enter their views. The survey can quantify levels of awareness and motivation and each respondent can be plotted on an Awareness and Motivation Matrix.

Motivation and awareness matrix

This maps out where people are in terms of their awareness and motivation. The results shown on the graph are for an organisation of 8,000 staff on a single site. Each dot represents a respondent. The yellow dot shows the average.

Different matrices can easily be generated to show variations by site, job function, age, gender and experience.

Clearly3450_insight14-oic2 - - becky the desired quadrant is top right “High Awareness and High Motivation”. There are already a number of staff in this quadrant. These people make excellent Energy Champions (see Energy champions – are they effective?) as they are already aware and motivated. Those in the top left quadrant are relatively high on motivation but lacking in awareness. These people generally want to help but often lack knowledge and are unsure exactly how they can help. So they simply need some awareness raising to move them to the top right quadrant.

Those in the bottom right quadrant are a difficult category: they know what to do but lack motivation. This lack of motivation can be totally unrelated to sustainability issues. Fortunately for the organisation shown above only three respondents are in this quadrant.

However, there are many respondents in the bottom left quadrant “Low Motivation/Low Awareness”. At first appearance these people may seem like a lost cause. However, for a number, the reason they are low in motivation is because they are low in awareness. So by raising awareness the motivation also rises.

Some questions in the survey may not measure awareness or motivation but simply ask employees to identify barriers to saving energy, effective incentives and their view of the best methods of communicating the energy saving message. Other questions may seek to garner specific suggestions on saving energy and improving environmental performance. These can elicit a number of carbon/money saving opportunities related to operational issues which may otherwise not be known. All this data can be analysed and provide valuable information for crafting a campaign strategy.

Benefits of a Survey

There are a number of benefits from using an on-line survey. The survey:

  • Quickly identifies and recruits volunteer Energy Champions
  • Quantitatively measures staff awareness/motivation levels
  • Different types of staff can be analysed by site, job function, department and displayed on the matrix so that comparisons can be made
  • By repeating the survey at a later date, shifts in awareness and motivation can be plotted
  • Helps tailor a campaign strategy based on facts
  • Identifies quick win opportunities
  • Identifies barriers to improved environmental performance
  • The survey itself has an awareness raising effect

How do they work?

Surveys3450_insight14-pic3 - - becky are mainly developed for on-line use ensuring ease of completion and accuracy. Often the link to the survey is sent out by the Chief Executive or a senior manager in a routine communication to all staff. Typically for an organisation with over 5,000 staff a response rate of around 8 or 9% can be expected which is sufficient to have a representative sample.

In a number of organisations some staff do not have regular access to a computer as a normal part of their work. So it is usual to supply managers with hard copy versions of the survey for staff to complete at a staff meeting. This data can then be entered manually.

In a typical survey with 850 respondents, approximately 200 volunteered to be trained as Energy Champions (see Energy champions – are they effective?).

During the response period, usually two to three weeks, the levels of response can be monitored so if a site or job function or department is unrepresented, steps can be taken to target certain groups to encourage them to respond to the survey so that a representative sample is received.

Once the data has been analysed, a report can be produced with recommendations on how to tailor the campaign strategy for maximum effectiveness.

Your Independent RISK FREE Solutions

The Green Consultancy’s energy behaviour change service can provide you with a complete range of services tailored to meet your precise needs – from one off events to ongoing programmes.

Put us to the test NOW! To discuss your requirements please call John Treble on 01761 419081 or email John@GreenConsultancy.com

To see all other articles please click here

3450_aston - - becky

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"It has been a pleasure to work with The Green Consultancy and I am confident that together we have created an awareness of energy management related issues within a significant and senior group of people, which is what we set out to do.”

Graham Faulks, Deputy Director Estates – Engineering and Sustainability

See case history of our work for Aston University

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“The Green Consultancy provided training for Sporta members in London and Sheffield – covering all aspects of energy management in wet and dry leisure centres, including CHP and voltage management.

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Brian Leonard, Chief Executive

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Importance of behaviour change - from Water, Energy & Environment magazine

“I strongly believe that behaviour change is an important tool in saving energy … and can realise larger savings than many traditional “hard” energy conservation techniques … and I’d encourage it to be incorporated into every carbon management plan for other universities and large energy consuming organisations.”

Russell Smith, Estates Manager