How to Start a Sustainability Competition at Your Business

By Megan Porter

Looking for ways to reduce costs and improve the bottom line at your business or building? Consider the benefits of starting a sustainability competition in your office. A sustainability competition invites employees at all levels to take partial ownership in the energy efficiency of the office, while also engaging employees in a friendly contest. Energy use accounts for a significant portion of any building’s operating costs, and in many cases, it is the single largest controllable cost of operations.1 As a result, the more people who participate in a sustainability competition, the more effective business owners will be at reducing costs and benefitting the environment.

Harness the Spirit of Competition
Researchers have found that a spirit of healthy competition and the opportunity for recognition are among the best drivers for participation in organization or community-wide energy management. With a sustainability competition, a business owner can set goals that participants can strive for and recognize individuals who go above and beyond.

Sustainability competitions encourage people who emphasize green practices at home to bring that mindset to the office. The contest motivates participants to “go green” at work by reducing energy and resource usage, boosting recycling efforts and contributing ideas for additional ways to apply sustainability practices in the workplace.

Such competitions enhance the green reputation and profile of a commercial building or business, and they do all of this in ways that employees and tenants find fun and engaging.

A Versatile Tool
Any organization can run a sustainability competition — trade associations, commercial businesses, local governments and even school districts and congregations. Organizations can compete with other buildings or organize a competition between tenants in the same building.

The key to a competition’s effectiveness is changing the behavior of employees who might not otherwise think about how their individual behavior affects the business or building as a whole. Tiny changes in behavior can have a great impact on reducing overall energy usage. A business can save up to $50 or more per computer by activating the already programmed computer standby or hibernate features.2 Sustainability competitions raise awareness of workplace resource use by building camaraderie, focusing efforts in a defined way through goal setting and providing a method to spotlight individual achievements through awards and success stories.

Getting Started
Building managers and business owners can adapt an existing program, like Kilowatt Crackdown, or they can start their own competition that they’ve adapted to their own specific environment.3

Excellent resources exist online to help you get started. For example, the ENERGY STAR website provides valuable guidance and background on how to design and structure a sustainability competition. A business owner will be able to find details on how to

  • Set sustainability goals
  • Define the parameters of the competition
  • Provide recognition for participants
  • Gather data
  • Keep score
  • Plan the competition launch
  • Get the word out to participants, potential sponsors, media and the public.

To further help a business owner encourage the adoption of energy efficient practices in the workplace, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has developed Employee Energy Efficiency Awareness Posters that are designed to be hung around common areas in the office. Each poster features a number of different reminders to adopt energy efficient habits such as turning off lights and keeping vents free of blockage. Download the posters today and hang around throughout the office to encourage employees to do their part to save energy and keep operating costs down.

  1. Department of Energy
  2. Department of Energy
  3. Department of Energy

How to Start a Sustainability Competition at Your Business.
  • 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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