Financing Energy Fitness

Slim Your Business's Waste with an Energy Fitness Competition

By Megan Porter

Californians are perennially among the elite when it comes to physical fitness in this country.1 Likewise, California is one of the most energy efficient states in the nation, second only to Massachusetts, according the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.2

Just as many companies offer their employees incentives to stay healthy, California businesses can go beyond posting energy saving tips in the breakroom. They can implement commercial energy efficiency programs that motivate employees to get involved in green practices and save the company money and reduce energy usage in the process. One of the most popular types of these energy fitness programs is an energy efficiency competition.

An energy efficiency competition can inspire employees to reduce energy usage and their business's environmental footprint by challenging them to identify sources of energy waste and conserve their facility's commercial energy usage. It can also help participants generate positive publicity and media exposure for their company.

For small to medium-sized California businesses that plan to create a new commercial energy efficiency competition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a myriad of energy saving tips. It also has an ENERGY STAR® guide3 that outlines the considerations associated with developing and running effective energy fitness competitions. ENERGY STAR recommends that businesses use the following seven steps to establish a successful program and reduce energy usage.

1. Set clear and obtainable goals
Choosing achievable goals for participants sets the energy efficiency competition on a solid foundation and gives participants, administrators and the public an endpoint on which to focus their efforts and attention. Clear goals will also inform your planning process and choice of metrics, help determine what the energy fitness competition will ultimately achieve, and drive the framing and messaging of the event.

2. Define the playing field
Explicitly defining the competition's playing field keeps the planning process and competition scope focused. For example, if the competition is citywide, the business may choose to include all types of buildings (e.g., offices, hotels, hospitals), or perhaps just those in the most energy-intensive sectors.

3. Dedicate resources
Deciding who in the organization will provide strong management for the commercial energy efficiency competition is crucial to a competition's success. Appoint an individual or group with sufficient availability and expertise in energy saving tips to support the competition and its participants on an ongoing basis. Financial resources are also a consideration. Energy fitness competitions can be run with no or low financial costs to the host, or they may be run with significant financial support. Identifying and dedicating resources ahead of time can help avoid setbacks and maintain momentum.

4. Recognize participants
It is important to set up a structure for recognition to motivate and reward participants and validate the energy efficiency competition. Structures can be as simple as participation-based models, where all competitors get a certificate or other form of recognition for following energy saving tips and identifying sources of energy waste. Or the structure could be based on the top two or three finishers. In any case, make sure the recognition structure is communicated at the start of the competition so that participants know what to expect.

5. Keep score
It is critical to identify appropriate metrics that will allow competitors to meaningfully track their success in eliminating sources of energy waste. Metrics associated with competitor progress can be based on participation and/or achievement, depending on the goals of the competition and the preferred method of recognition. The next step is to establish a baseline. A full year of energy data is the best baseline against which to compare all future energy use.

6. Plan the launch
Create a comprehensive timeline for the energy fitness competition to help participants stay on task and on track in their efforts to reduce energy usage. Step one is to define the time frame. The next step is to plan the recruitment process. Begin outreach to potential participants eight to 10 weeks prior to the start of the competition. Then set a deadline by which participants must register, typically one to two weeks prior to the start of the competition.

7. Get the word out
Communication is essential in all phases of an energy efficiency competition, from beginning to end, with participants as well as with potential sponsors, media and the public. Central to any competition is the message that there are many reasons to pursue energy efficiency, such as identifying sources of energy waste, cost savings, environmental stewardship and good publicity. Leverage internal and external communication outlets to circulate information about the competition and to attract competitors.

For more ways to reduce energy usage and save, download the "Insider's Guide to Financing Energy Efficiency Projects" from PG&E. This guide will help business owners plan, finance and successfully complete energy efficiency upgrades, repairs and replacements.

Referenced in Article:

  1. WebMD
  2. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy

QGet your employees involved in saving energy through an energy fitness competition:
  • 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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