M&S embarks on new behaviour change plan

UK retailer Marks & Spencer has launched a new behavior change campaign to help it cut energy use by 50% across UK operations by 2020.

The Making Energy Matter campaign will communicate tips and targets to employees in a “multitude of different formats: from presentations to posters, displays to desk-drops, web banners to booklets, emails to in-house magazines.”

“People are visual,” said M&S energy programme coordinator Kate Neale in a blog post this week. “Long gone are the days when communicating meant a general announcement on Monday morning, then sticking a sheet of A4 on the company noticeboard.”

Neale wrote that M&S employees are vitally important if the company is to reach the ‘ambitious targets’ laid out in its last Plan A report – a 50% cut in energy and 35% cut in water use by 2020.

“We believe that the more information we give people, about the impact and effect of wasted energy and water, the more likely they are to do something about preventing it. In short, knowledge is the key to unlocking people power,” she said.

Positive progress

M&S’ Plan A has already put the company on track to achieving a 35% resources-reduction target by 2015 against a 2006/7 benchmark. Initiatives have included the largest commercial rooftop solar array in Europe, LED retrofitting and a super-efficient eco-store.

But the biggest energy savings come from a combination of technology and behaviour change, according to Neale.

“We passionately believe that engaging people to behave in a more energy and water efficient way is as important as investing in efficiency technologies,” she said.

Behaviour change could save UK businesses up to £500m a year, according to a recent study, and the practice was identified by energy managers as their second top priority edie’s own survey.

One of M&S’ big competitors, Sainsburys’, claimed recently that a ‘simple employee engagement plan’ had cut company-wide energy use by 3%.

“Behaviour change is not just about putting posters up,” said Sainsburys head of sustainability Paul Crewe. “We engage with every single colleague and we share things they can do both in the workplace and at home to help reduce energy use.

Brad Allen

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