Claire Maugham is responsible for media and policy and public affairs at Smart Energy GB. Claire is also a member of the Mayor of London’s Smart London Board, which is charged with helping the Mayor shape his vision and strategy for London's smart city agenda and investment in data infrastructure.
Blog: Get Smart - Go Circular - Claire Maugham, Smart Energy GB
Get smart – go circular
Energy use by commercial buildings was responsible for 13 million tonnes of CO2 in 2016 according to the Committee on Climate Change. It is an area where the Committee stated that progress is needed to help the UK reach its climate change commitments.
While the sustainability objective is clearly substantial, to reach employees and encourage behaviour change across Great Britain, employee campaigns often need to go beyond general sustainability benefits to engage employees.
Smart meters, which are being installed in every home and small business at no additional cost as part of a national rollout, are a catalyst for energy saving at home. By showing what you’re using in pounds and pence in near-real time, they have helped 8 in 10 people who have already had their new meter installed take steps to change their energy use.
Smart Energy GB is helping everyone in Great Britain understand smart meters, the national rollout and how to use their new meters to get gas and electricity under control. Behaviour change in the home is vital to make Britain smarter and greener: we’d like employers to get involved and support their workforce change their energy habits at home, and bring change into the workplace too. We were therefore delighted to attend the BITC’s Circular Office Campaign launch a few weeks ago and are keen to work with the sustainability leaders, practitioners and office suppliers engaged with the campaign.
The launch event and the campaign highlights the wide range of opportunities for innovation in sustainability within the day-to-day office environment. From green energy solutions, to repurposing waste and utilising reclaimed furniture there are clearly a multitude of opportunities to support greater sustainability.
This might involve drawing on employees’ experiences at home or their other motivations in the workplace to develop sustainability strategies that employees see value in supporting. In this way, the circular office needs to be more than a chance to protect the environment but also a chance to encourage the co-creation of a sustainable workplace environment that employees want to work.
A circular office strategy looks after the offices primary asset - its workforce - and by involving employees in the process of setting sustainable and circular objectives it encourages employees’ identification and engagement with their office.
How to engage employees with smart meters and energy saving is a challenge that Smart Energy GB have been working on with the Carbon Trust and we have produced this easy to use guide for employers. Copied below are some tips from the guide to help kick-start engagement with a Circular Office campaign:
1. Encourage your employees to get a smart meter
The smart meter rollout is a great way into discussion about energy. Every home and therefore all you employees will be offered one by their energy supplier at no cost to get their energy use under control. Some of your employees will already have smart meters and others will want to know how they can get them and what the benefits are. Your employees can benefit personally from this advice. There is then an opportunity to broaden the discussion and make a connection with energy saving behaviours in the work place.
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2. To engage employees you need to be creative
Homes, personal experiences and saving money, are topics that can help make a campaign relevant to your employees.
Creative campaigns can provide information on sustainability options outside of the office such as in transport or energy saving at home, to make a connection with workplace behaviour.
User-generated content is always popular and effective at bringing campaigns to live – ask your employees for their views and stories to really engage them in the subject.
3. Make data visual
People respond well to visual data, and using smart metering at home and in the workplace could be a way to bridge the home-workplace energy efficiency gap. If you have smart/half-hourly metering in the workplace then you could use the data it provides to help employees feel more connected to their energy use.
4. Tap in to a range of motivations
Look at people’s existing values and motivations and build specific behaviour change campaigns around those. For example, a campaign around productivity gains from using conferencing software and holding meetings at convenient locations could be more relevant to staff than a campaign addressing costs and carbon.