Global Action Plan launches new platform to motivate sustainable champions

EXCLUSIVE: Independent charity Global Action Plan (GAP) announced on Wednesday (18 May) at edie Live that it is launching a new Catalyst initiative aimed at creating a network of sustainability champions that can motivate one another to mobilise the workforce.

Speaking to delegates at the Energy Efficiency Theatre on day two of the edie Live exhibition, GAP’s senior partner Chris Large unveiled the new Catalyst initiative with the aim of mobilising the UK’s 30 million-strong workforce to implement sustainable practices established by their respective organisations.

“We have a new initiative to help us achieve the aim of promoting millions of sustainable advocates.” Large said. “Step one starts with us appealing to the passionate people who drive sustainable policies where they work. Even if this is just 1%, it will create 300,000 environmental advocates that we have in work places across the UK.”

“What I hope we can do very soon, is have thousands of champions communicating with each other as part of a movement to embed sustainable practices across the UK workforce.”

Large revealed that the Catalyst programme is actively seeking 10 organisations to sign up to the initiative, offering to bring in 50 “champions” each, in order to establish an initial network of 500 champions.

Through the Catalyst programme, these champions – who can be signed up to the initiative by paying around £200 as an “ambition fee” – can then talk with GAP through an exclusive support line to “let off steam” and gain access to passive support and toolkits to help them overcome sustainability barriers.

Large revealed that the majority of these champions – which will also be offered exclusive seminars featuring the likes of Sir Ben Ainslie and Grand Design’s Kevin McCloud – usually take on “pet projects” that are too ambitious, while also feeling “under-valued and poorly equipped to deliver change”. To remedy these beliefs, Large hopes that the Catalyst network will create a sense of internal pride and motivation to encourage individuals to promote their work.

“Catalyst is a movement of sustainability advocates to promote policies,” Large added. “We want to create a network across organisations to get these champions to feel part of a bigger network and movement.

“It will bring together champions from across organisations to share best practice and motivate each other to keep that level of motivation high. This is what got them on-board with the sustainable agenda in the first place.”

‘Climate change and polar bears’

Large also used his time at edie Live to promote GAP’s track record with working with large organisations to promote behaviour change. Having previously worked with HSBC to teach young people about water, the charity has been working with both Sainsbury’s and the Barts Health NHS Trust to ignite behaviour change amongst staff in order to improve energy efficiency.

With issues such as “climate change and polar bears” unable to motivate staff to improve energy efficiency at Sainsbury’s, GAP appealed to the workers sense of pride in regards to product quality and freshness and customer pride to improve energy measures in the cooling, freezing and oven-heating operations in stores.

By interacting with staff and motivating them to pull down night blinds on open refrigeration systems, Sainsbury’s has tracked around a 5% improvement in in-store energy efficiency which the company has attributed to behaviour change.

GAP also managed to communicate with staff at Barts Health hospitals in order to motivate them to reduce a £13m energy bill by focusing on patient well-being. Large cited multiple research investigations which all suggested that more exposure to natural light actually reduced the length of stay at the hospital for patients.

By honing in on the staff and patient relationship, GAP and Barts Health were able to promote energy efficiency by switching off lights in exchange for natural light, while also promoting “silent” periods to enhance patient experience. The results have seen Barts Health trim £400,000 off of its energy bills each year as part of Operation TLC.

Matt Mace

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