How can businesses change behaviours to drive energy efficiency?

UK energy managers can drive employee engagement with company-wide energy efficiency programmes through simple messages focused on the positive impacts of change and the effective internal dissemination of energy and environment management systems.

That was the overarching view of a leading cross-sector panel of energy managers and experts who gave their views on ‘cutting the complexities’ of energy management in a recent edie webinar

Costa Coffee’s energy & environment manager Oliver Rosevear, who was among the webinar speakers, said that behaviour change on energy use within the retail industry can prove particularly challenging due to a relatively high employee turnover. This issue can be combated by frequently re-energised lines of communication which encourage employees to become “part of the solution”, Rosevear said.

“I think the key is to keep the message fresh. Every six months, Costa runs a mini energy efficiency programme to refresh the messages – i.e. keep the doors closed and use equipment efficiently – and we just remind the teams of those key messages.

“We make sure we change our messages so that we’re not recycling them time and time again, which can lose the engagement of some of the more long-term staff. It’s really important that energy managers let employees understand the benefit of the impact they are having.”


Costa Coffee holds the ISO 50001 energy management certification, and was recently awarded the ISO 14001 environmental management certification for its self-serve ‘Express’ outlets. Rosevear said that earning these accreditations had benefited the company from an engagement perspective; generating an enhanced buy-in on energy efficiency projects from senior management.

“The ISO programme itself relies on making sure the energy team are on-board and understand their impact, which is great,” he added. “We very much work with our individual team to make sure the key members of our management teams are actively involved which has really helped to get full engagement across the businesses, which has been very beneficial.”

Rosevear went on to explained how, as the UK’s largest coffee shop chain, Costa has been able to deliver on ambitious energy reduction commitments whilst developing its award-winning zero-energy ‘EcoPod’ concept, which looks to change the way landlords work with retailers to drive a low-carbon economy.

‘Big surprise’

The role of energy management systems as an effective behaviour change tool was emphasised later in the hour-long webinar by Hilton Worldwide’s energy and environment manager Claire Whitely, who said that the development of an in-house measuring and monitoring system prompted the firm to “tweak and better-improve” efficiencies.

Hilton recently established the state-of-the-art corporate responsibility measurement platform LightStay, which helps the group better manage the energy usage of its 4,400+ properties globally, as well as drive improvement across hundreds of indicators over time. For Whitely, this platform has helped to create a sea change in employee engagement.

“One of the biggest surprises was how having that level of understanding can really have an impact on the engagement of our team,” Whitely said. “Through that understanding and engagement, we can do an awful lot. 

“If we can get every single one of them to really come together and take action, then not only do we have the impact of behaviour change; it helps to bring everyone else along on the journey, and helps to get the bigger project through because it brings a shift in the thinking of the organisation.”

Asked in the Q&A section of the webinar about any particular recommendations for other companies embarking on their own energy efficiency drives, Whitely responded: “Find a way to make it easy for people. As much as you can, get data automatically sent to you that you can then use to provide your employees with information, so rather focusing on what they can put in, they can focus on what they can get out and where they can progress.”

Cutting complexity

Rosevear and Whiteley were speaking during edie’s exclusive, interactive webinar titled Cutting Complexity: Mapping energy efficiency in your organisation, which uncovered the secrets to successful energy management. The webinar is available to view on-demand for free here.

Completing the panel of expert speakers was Phil Gilbert, director of customer solutions at E.ON, who used his 15 years’ experience in the energy industry to offer an insight on how businesses can improve their competitive performance and profit from improved efficiencies. Having worked on trading, renewables, new technology development, combined heat and power (CHP) and biomass, Gilbert explained that E.ON now “does a lot more than simply supply energy”.

Take part in edie’s energy management benchmarking survey here.

George Ogleby

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