New Online Tool Makes Employees The 'Secret Weapon' Against Rising Energy Bills
Employees could save UK businesses and public bodies £500m and two million tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of all the households in Birmingham – thanks to a new, online office tool called ‘Carbon Trust Empower™' launched today by the Carbon Trust. By engaging employees in cutting energy use, paper waste and travel, Carbon Trust Empower has the potential to save a typical small business over 15% of their energy bill or more than £6K per year – equivalent to powering 3.5km of street lights for a year. Larger businesses* that base their approach on this tool could save £150K and over 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Each individual employee’s efforts can amount to carbon emissions reductions (220kgCO2) equivalent to heating the average household for a month**. Whitbread and Oxford City Council have already signed their staff up to use the online tool that enables employees to make practical commitments through an interactive animated tour of a typical workplace, and which can provide the springboard for larger organisations to raise the bar through ambitious internal behavioural change programmes.
Employees are able to explore energy saving opportunities throughout their office – starting by considering how they arrive for work, with options to join a company carpool or travel by public transport, before moving on to their desk, where they can commit to switch off their PC when not in use, print double-sided, and teleconference rather than travel. The virtual journey also helps staff cut energy waste in other parts of the office, such as the reception area, kitchen, corridors and toilets. As well as helping individuals create and keep track of personal action plans, Empower provides a wealth of engaging workplace facts and enables office managers to view the sum of their employees’ individual energy savings. Richard Rugg, Director of Carbon Trust Programmes, said: “Companies often struggle to harness the huge energy savings that an effectively engaged workforce can help deliver. Part of the problem employers face is making actions practical, fun and sustained. By creating a virtual tour entirely from an employee’s viewpoint, every aspect of Empower has been designed with the end-user in mind.” He added: “Employees are a critical ally in cutting energy waste. Get them onboard and reap the rewards in lower bills and reduced carbon emissions.” Chris George, Head of Energy & Environment, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants, commented: “Whitbread has a clear target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26% by 2020. To get there we have embedded sustainability into the heart of our business and we are working closely with our teams and business partners to reduce energy and water consumption.
We believe that Empower is a strong learning platform which will help our teams to understand how we can work together to reduce energy consumption within our portfolio of buildings in the UK. It is a straightforward and user-friendly tool, which is easily accessible online and may lead to tonnes of CO2 emissions being saved across our business. It also demonstrates that as we save energy, we also save money, bringing real commercial benefits to the bottom line.” Paul Robinson, Team Leader, Energy and Climate Change at Oxford City Council, said: "Oxford City Council is committed to tackling climate change, and engaging and empowering employees is a critical way for us to make significant carbon and financial savings. The new Empower tool is great fun to use and we intend to roll this out to all our staff in the near future as part of our commitment to reduce our operational carbon emissions by 28% by the end of March 2012, relative to the 05/06 baseline emissions. We will also encourage our Low Carbon Oxford partners to use it with their staff too." Companies can encourage their employees to sign up to energy saving at www.carbontrust.co.uk/empower. Companies interested in tailoring the software for their own business should call the Advice Line on 0800 085 2005.
By following the Carbon Trust’s top tips for office energy efficiency, companies could make annual savings of over £200 per employee: 1. Turning off your PC and monitor in the evening could save £39/yr per person 2. Keeping blinds open and turning off lights when there is enough daylight, or when areas are unoccupied could save more than £10/yr per person 3. Accepting a slightly (1°C) reduced temperature in the workplace could save over £4/yr per person 4. Using the phone or video conferencing to avoid four car journeys could save £150/yr 5. Reducing paper use by only printing when needed, and printing double sided could save £20/yr each per person