Behavioural Change Leads to Savings on Business Energy Bills

Helen Caudrey
When a major food and beverage retailer wanted to save money on energy bills, employee engagement was the key to unlocking a 10 per cent saving without the need for major capital investment. Faithful+Gould worked with the client to effect important workforce behavioural changes.

Rising energy costs and the CRC obligation are forcing organisations to take a long hard look at their energy consumption. Creating a successful energy awareness programme depends on buy-in from all stakeholders.

This is not about brand new buildings or installing costly new equipment. Buildings already in operation can make substantial low-cost savings simply by changing the way they operate. The journey typically begins with changing the way the organisation thinks, looking at all procedures and considering the most energy-efficient solutions.

It may take time to get staff on board. They have to be convinced that new working practices are possible and that there need be no loss of quality. Barriers must be explored and overcome via awareness-raising, training and discussion. Success hinges on convincing staff that they are stakeholders and partners in the process.

What's needed is a step by step approach to every area of the building, combined with a thorough understanding of each task undertaken.  In a pub, for instance, over 60% of energy usage is in the kitchen. We have worked with managers and chefs to develop creative ways of cutting energy use in each unit, interrogating everyday procedures.

  • Do the kitchen staff light every burner at the start of their shift?

  • Is the equipment running efficiently?

  • Any switches permanently left on for no reason?

  • Are heating and ventilation working efficiently?

Good housekeeping measures can be implemented throughout the building, with small changes adding up to real savings. What's the overnight electricity usage? Do the cleaners switch on every light when they arrive in the morning? Are there dripping taps? Are the toilets flushing efficiently?

Existing monitoring is likely to be focused on electricity but gas and water can also be explored. CRC has forced electricity monitoring and this actually presents an opportunity for savings. Behavioural change can also be linked to planned maintenance programmes and future refurbishment strategies. Next time refurbishment works are carried out, can fixtures and fittings be chosen in line with energy efficiency?

When staff see small savings quantified, affecting the bottom line and influencing their benefits package and bonus, it becomes a tangible exercise. Ongoing audit throughout the pub estate will track progress and reinforce the message, possibly introducing an element of healthy competition.

Data comparisons between outlets can provide robust evidence of what's possible. Knowing that the pub in the next town is selling exactly the same number of meals, but with 10% less energy spend, is a great incentive. Sustaining staff motivation is vital and needs constant attention, via managerial vigilance, training and induction programmes.

Faithful+Gould's building surveying team offers practical guidance on operational energy audit, monitoring, analysis and savings. We can help clients harness the impact of energy-related behavioural change programmes, releasing significant savings potential.