Creating an energy efficient culture in America

January 13, 2012

Energy behavior programs that target reductions in energy use through a change in the attitudes and behaviors of employees can help to build an office culture that understands the importance of efficiency, according to a report released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

These programs, like those instituted at The House of Representatives and the Empire State Building, have been successful in changing the perceptions surrounding energy efficiency.

Sustainable Planet reported that this study also showed programs centered around energy efficiency tend to create benefits that extend beyond the workplace, as participants often become more conscious of their consumption levels at home and in their communities.

The report focused on five energy behavior programs in the workplace used in the U.S. and Canada, according to ACEEE.

Energy savings of the studied energy behavior projects ranged from 4 percent to nearly 75 percent. The lower number is taken from projects that are stand-alone behavior programs, while the latter relates to more comprehensive efforts where behavior is only one component.

According to ACEEE, the research identifies four intervention strategies that were shared by the energy behavior projects.

The first strategy involved setting the tone with strong support from upper management and good program branding to enhance the perception of the project. Another strategy involved building a team consisting of a stakeholder-oriented program committee and peer champions selected from the occupants of the associated buildings.

The projects also focused on employing communication tools including e-mail, websites, prompts, posters and public meetings to raise awareness and attention was also centered on deploying key engagement techniques such as feedback, benign peer pressure, competition, rewards and reference to appropriate social norms.

These strategies helped organizations implement the projects in a way that would be receptive to the employees.

The report notes that the energy research community and energy efficiency professionals should work together to develop programs concerned with improving evaluation framework for these types of programs.

This type of collaboration between professionals in the energy efficiency sector is what the Department of Energy looked to foster in the creation of its innovation HUB for energy efficient buildings.

The effort, dubbed the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC), is headquartered at the historic Philadelphia Navy Yard.

At the Navy Yard, a consortium of institutions from academia, the private sector, the energy efficient industry and development agencies, is working together to establish the GPIC as a leader in the design and development of energy efficient buildings and technology.