By Jes Rutter
Your employees can be your most powerful asset in achieving and sustaining energy and cost savings. They know your business processes and operations better than an outside consultant, and can be best placed to identify and implement energy saving opportunities.
We know that savings achieved through changing behaviours can equal or exceed savings made through capital investment projects - at a fraction of the cost! We know how changing behaviour can have a direct and significant impact on saving energy.
For example, we worked with Rolls-Royce to deliver a best practice LED lighting project which required a capital investment of £480k. The project was a real success and achieved energy savings representing 7.5% pa of total site consumption. We delivered an extensive behaviour management programme to the same client for £30k and after 15 months they also achieved similar energy savings of 7.5% pa.
Changing employee behaviours is not just about saving costs, there are other benefits to increasing staff awareness and engagement too. Your staff acquire new skills, increase their contribution to the business and build their self-esteem. This knowledge can, in turn, take them into other positions within the organisation with better prospects and better pay. Increased awareness will add personal value too as they apply their learning within the home environment.
Implementing a company-wide behavioural management programme will also:
I've carefully avoided using the word "training" so far because this conjures up visions of classrooms, PowerPoint presentations, course notes and, in many cases, walking away at the end of the session to resume usual behaviours! Changing energy behaviours and embedding best energy practice into an organisation should be so much more than this.
It should be about a "programme" and a sustained approach to behavioural improvements which embeds knowledge within the organisation, using the employees own environment where possible to illustrate and demonstrate real life opportunities relevant to that person.
While everyone in the organisation has the ability to save energy, not everyone will have the same aptitude or opportunities to do so.
Before a behavioural management programme begins, it is important to be clear about the objectives of the programme and also about the roles and responsibilities of staff. This intelligence determines the level of training required and the current abilities of the trainees.
Not everyone will require the same level of training (yes, I've succumbed to using the word for expediency!) nor will they have the same level of responsibility for managing and implementing energy improvement opportunities identified.
For example, there are a lot of things that anyone can do without permission such as turning some things off. Specifying the limits that they have is very important.
Another equally important element which is often not considered is setting a charter or practical implementation policy from the top of the company and ensuring that there is support for the programme over a period of six to nine months. This length of time is important for the benefits to be realised and a business case to be fully justifiable.
The breadth, depth and scope of an energy behaviour management programme within an organisation will depend on the commitment of the organisation to saving energy.
There are many levels of training available which can be chosen to suit the role and responsibilities of individuals within the organisation. It is obviously not relevant for everyone to have in depth energy champion training and for large organisations a simple one hour eLearning programme could be an effective, affordable way of engaging all staff who have less opportunities to implement energy savings.
Where companies undertake energy champion training, some of this will inevitably take place in a classroom, but the majority of people will gain a far greater understanding of the complexities of improving energy efficiency if learning takes place in their working environment whether this is in an office, factory, hospital, or whatever. Here they will be able to see and feel and touch the potential opportunities to reduce energy use whereas previously they may have been blind to them.
It is equally important that the delegate's experience goes as far as it can in terms of learning how to calculate energy savings so that there is a clear understanding of the size of the potential opportunity that exists.
Any course material provided such as checklists, calculation models, best practice advice, should be relevant and specific to that organisation and useful beyond the training programme. Just providing a copy of PowerPoint slides used is a waste of everyone's time and paper - it is more than likely to end up in the bin or at the back of a filing cabinet!
Implementing a behaviour management or training programme may seem an obvious route for an organisation that wishes to embed energy efficiency and to achieve sustained energy savings. So why don't more companies do it?
Energy managers, who are usually very knowledgeable about the benefits of training, cite many reasons for not being able to implement training:
It is worth investing time and effort into developing and presenting a robust, evidence-based business case for energy training as this will go a long way to counter all these arguments. Reporting on results achieved is also very important to gain trust and buy-in for future projects. Here are some suggestions as to how you can approach this.
What do you want to achieve? Is your objective employee engagement, cost savings, CSR, buy in from disenfranchised elements? Setting targets and KPIs with the training organisation will provide a framework for the development, delivery, management and measurement of the effectiveness of your programme.
Provide proof of energy consumption savings envisaged by individual energy reduction projects by using the protocol for performance measurement and verification (M&V) as outlined in the International Performance Measurement & Verification Protocol (IPMVP) Guidelines.
IPMVP is the internationally recognised protocol for performance measurement and verification (M&V) of energy saving projects. The IPMVP guidelines, built with the help of organisations from 16 countries and hundreds of individual experts from 25 nations, provides a consistent, reliable approach to M&V around the world.
Ideally, with sufficient metering and energy data analysis, a direct comparison of consumption before and at regular periods after the delivery of behaviour change programme would demonstrate direct savings. This is possible, but there are a number of challenges around this because environmental factors, implementation of other energy saving measures and organisational variances all need to be taken into account.
Your training provider should be able to advise you on how best to approach this for your organisation.
This is not the sole way of assessing effectiveness however. There are many other ways including:
Asking for delegate feedback is also important. A simple survey will not only gauge effectiveness but also help to identify any future improvements to the programme.
For more information on assessing the effectiveness of training see the work from Fastrak Consulting including conducting an ROI analysis.
Ask training providers to supply you with case studies and to provide feedback from customer surveys to give third party credibility.
Carrying out a pilot can provide valuable evidence for a business case but also iron out any wrinkles in a programme before wide scale implementation.
Is it worth training staff to save energy? As a direct result of energy training delivered to Bristol Water, they developed a substantial register of over 90 energy savings opportunities. The training was part of a short programme of measures to support the organisation's commitment to embedding an energy efficient culture within their business and to achieving the energy management standard, ISO 50001.
JRP Solutions were appointed by Bristol Water to support them in delivering the requirements of ISO 50001 as a route to ESOS compliance. We reviewed Bristol Water's overall strategy and structure, considered the best practical way to comply and to get the most out of ISO 50001 and then worked with the organisation to agree on the optimum approach and prioritise implementation.
Energy training was an essential component of engaging staff in the journey towards certification.
We worked with Bristol Water to develop an energy structure, hierarchy and job profiles. A total of 35 people, including directors, engineers, administrators, plant operators and project managers, were then involved in three levels of training.
As part of the training programme, we developed a comprehensive energy savings opportunity register. The three courses resulted in attendees compiling a list of 92 energy savings suggestions. Half of each of the training sessions worked on a practical analysis of what was learned and how to use this knowledge to identify and implement improvements. The objective was to arm delegates with the knowledge they need to achieve real savings and to achieve and maintain ISO 50001 certification.
In order to enable Bristol Water to assess project savings as well as design considerations for new equipment against old going forward, JRP produced a calculations workbook which now allows them to quantify the savings potential across a number of technologies. These include lighting, small power, compressed air, blowers, pumps, insulation, plus heating, ventilation and air conditioning. This information is invaluable in budgeting for capital expenditure.
In addition, we developed checklists for each technology to embed good practice within the organisation. The lists include a list of 20-25 potential opportunities to analyse for each technology, the reason why it's deemed to be an opportunity and then details of what action needs taking.
We know that savings achieved through changing behaviours can equal or exceed savings made through capital investment projects - at a fraction of the cost.
So yes, there is every reason to train staff to save energy!
Jes Rutter is Managing Director of energy consultancy JRP Solutions and Chair of the ESTA Independent Energy Consultants Group.
A recognised UK expert in improving the effectiveness of energy use, particularly within industrial process environments, Jes's has successfully applied his 33 years experience in energy management to developing and implementing practical, tailored solutions for and on behalf of private and public organisations.