Sustainable business

How to Educate Employees About Sustainable Practices

By Megan Porter

Energy management can transform a company into a sustainable business and improve its energy and financial performance, which is why it’s essential for business owners and managers to motivate their employees to implement green habits. However, getting workers involved in an energy management program is no small task. Many people don’t understand that seemingly innocuous habits can add up to energy waste and notable expenses down the line. As a result, turning those habits around might take some conditioning.

The good news is that business owners and managers can encourage better habits around the office in several low-cost ways. By providing training, incentives and recognition and empowering occupants with information, California business owners and managers can curb waste and continue to lead the country in energy efficiency.

Getting started: Point out the biggest energy offenders
Energy management doesn’t have to be cumbersome, nor does it have to negatively affect your budget. About 90% of an energy management program involves empowering participants with information. Business owners and managers can start the process of sustainability by identifying bad habits and the biggest energy-wasters around the office and building. The most common of these include:

  • Equipment power use. Turning off equipment such as printers and copiers can save more than $150 annually. Activating system standby can also greatly reduce monthly energy expenses, as much as $50 or more per computer.1
  • Inefficient lighting. Switching to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can reduce lighting energy use by 75%, and turning off lights when not in use can reduce lighting expenses by an additional 10% to 40%. LEDs are also much more efficient than incandescents, produce less heat and come in a variety of colors.2
  • Blocked vents. When vents are blocked by furniture and equipment, they often require 25% more energy to distribute air. Not only can this lead to greater monthly expenses, but it can also set back your energy budget goals.3

By alerting people to your building’s biggest energy-wasters, business owners and managers can begin the process of implementing sustainable practices.

First steps: Implementing an energy management program
Business owners and managers get so caught up in running day-to-day operations that they tend to put energy management on the back burner until the dust settles. Everyone needs a little motivation and guidance when it comes to implementing an energy management program. Here are some tips to help those in your office and building get involved in the sustainability effort.

  1. Empower employees with information. Employees who are given substantial reasons and simple tips to manage their energy use are much more likely to follow them. Business owners and managers can distribute information to employees and building occupants via emails and newsletters with helpful reminders to make sure lights are turned off in vacated conference rooms or to set up power management settings in their laptops. This information should employ facts and stats like the ones above to drive home the importance of sustainability.

    Business owners and managers can also put together energy kits that include literature on sustainability and energy efficiency standards and a checklist of actions with associated savings to ensure all steps are being taken and all goals are being met. Employee Energy Efficiency Awareness Posters from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) can be placed around the office and building as a way to speak directly to occupants and remind them to incorporate energy-saving habits into their day at work.
  2. Make energy management fun with interactive events. Business owners and managers can keep people committed to and interested in sustainability by infusing a little levity into their energy management program. This is important, because you don’t want employees and building occupants to equate sustainability with chores.

    Consider carving out a couple hours a month or assigning one workday a week to underscore the business’s commitment to long-term sustainability. Host an event, order lunch and plan an afternoon of green trivia or bingo. Focus on energy management activities that have an educational bent. Turn participation into a competition with prize drawings, outings and more. For maximum participation and results, turn the effort into a fun, team-building exercise.

Post-implementation: Acknowledging high achievers around the office
Employees appreciate positive feedback. Simple acknowledgment of a job well done can do wonders for motivation and quality of work. Green business owners and managers can show their appreciation and support by noting employee and department benchmarks, especially those that set an example of high-achieving energy management. Holding regular meetings to assess the business’s energy performance keeps everyone on task and in a competitive mood. It also allows for the opportunity to collect feedback from program participants, which can help improve future efforts.

Implementing an energy management program is not only essential to staying on budget, it also contributes to a company’s reputation as a green business and the overall health of the environment. Luckily, there are several resources available to help sustainable businesses get started with energy management. Download and hang up PG&E’s Employee Energy Efficiency Awareness Posters around the workplace as a first step toward reducing energy use and expenses.

  1. Energy Star
  2. Energy Star
  3. Energy Star

How to Educate Employees About Sustainable Practices
  • SMB Blog Author
    Megan Porter
    Senior Program Marketing Manager at PG&E, is a recognized leader in solutions marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. Megan uses her proven and practical expertise to bring energy efficiency education to businesses in every industry. In this vital role, she develops and oversees highly successful initiatives that result in the adoption of more efficient long-term energy management behaviors.

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