For many businesses, renewables have been a solid financial investment, but what if the energy they produce could have been saved through improved energy efficiency?
Renewables usually require an initial outlay, followed by a payback period before they start generating revenue for the business. Despite this, renewable energy has been a popular investment for many. The UK renewables market was the fourth largest in the world just three years ago (www.telegraph.co.uk) but has slowed since government cuts to Feed In Tariffs (FITs). Renewable investment from outside the UK has also slowed with the uncertainty created by Brexit and an unclear future for governmental support.
For many businesses, renewables have been a solid financial investment, but what if the energy they produce could have been saved through improved energy efficiency? Could the same benefits be achieved without the risk associated with a large capital investment?
Businesses often overlook their most powerful asset in achieving persistent energy savings – their staff.
There is a misplaced assumption that staff training is a ‘soft’ or inferior method of energy management. But, in terms of value for money, it’s the most effective way of cutting up to 10 per cent (Carbon Trust, 2013:6) from your carbon footprint for minimal cost.
There are external training providers or sources of training that can be rolled out across your staff-base, making it accessible and quick to implement. These range from online options to full face-to-face courses bringing your staff up to standard.
The Carbon Trust offers a great starter pack entitled “Creating an Awareness Campaign” which can act as a starting point for either research or an actual campaign.
One of the world’s finest sustainability schemes is Marks & Spencer’s ‘Plan A’ scheme. Adam Elman, Head of Delivery for Plan A, has hailed the impact of the M&S staff and named them as a key component in the scheme’s success: “It was the most successful motivational and change management programmes ever delivered within M&S, enabling people from different parts of the business and functions to work together for a common goal.
“We are engaging our people, giving them skills and tools to make a difference.”
Plan A’s objectives are held up as key achievements at M&S. They are displayed on their board reports alongside the business’ key financials – the perfect signal to let people know they are serious.
Another key driver of employee engagement with these schemes is communication. To run a successful carbon reduction scheme you’ll need a solid communications strategy and the ability to reach all of your staff regularly and easily. Plan A has its own governance structure and is backed up with a suite of literature, sections in the staff handbook, special events and interactive materials to really hammer home the message.
M&S have reaped enormous financial reward, along with exemplar status in the world of carbon reduction, boosts in sales and a host of awards on the back of Plan A. It has been a resounding success for them and has gone significantly further than simply knocking a few pounds off the bottom line.
So, have you considered the entire spectrum of possibilities for your carbon reduction targets? Renewables are a must on a journey towards carbon neutrality, but perhaps they shouldn’t always be your first port of call.
Want to start your own ‘Plan A’ scheme in your business? Check out their dedicated webpage or get in touch to find out how we can help you slash your carbon footprint.