Why every hour should be an earth hour

How businesses can keep up energy efficiency momentum throughout the year.

The 13th annual Earth Hour took place on 30 March, followed by the 50th Earth Day on 22 April. It’s encouraging to see how far these movements have come – such initiatives are an effective way to build awareness of the need to be more energy efficient. They also help to showcase efforts being made by businesses and individuals to find ways of cutting energy waste and reducing our carbon footprint.

So what progress have we as a society made in the last year to become more energy efficient? On the one hand, we’ve made good progress: this was underpinned by the outcome of the COP24 conference in December, where the 196 countries present committed to new measures to make the Paris climate pact operational by 2020. On the other, we’ve seen global carbon emissions hitting an all-time high in 2018 according to some reports, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned that the global energy transition has stagnated over the last five years.

At a UK level, we’ve seen an increased appreciation among business of the need to be more environmentally responsible – a survey of businesses found 70% of junior employees had taken action to support energy reduction in the workplace. Industry leaders are also taking steps to reduce energy use – a group of senior business leaders recently backed proposals for radical changes to energy intensive industries to help them cut their emissions.

But to achieve lasting results, it’s important that we apply the lessons we learn from Earth Hour and Earth Day to every other day of the year. Here’s how to keep up the momentum all year round.

Empower your employees

Carbon Trust estimates that even small behavioural changes can reduce energy costs in an organisation by at least 10%. Businesses are starting to recognise how individuals’ actions can impact usage across an organisation.

To do this, buy-in from employees is essential and leaders need to clearly communicate the advantages of energy efficiency. Awareness is key and there are several initiatives that can help to boost engagement. These include setting up energy champion groups and running awareness campaigns. Getting your messaging right is crucial: it’s important you’re reinforcing the need for energy saving at meetings and via email. You can help by giving your team practical examples that are easy to implement, such as only boiling the amount of water you actually need for a cup of tea.

Energy saving workshops can also be a useful educational tool and a great way of sparking interest among team members. If your organisation has several sites, you could set up a league table across sites and run an energy efficiency competition.

Look at buying ‘Green’ products

Another way to keep up the green momentum throughout the year is to select an energy contract that’s made up of renewably sourced energy.

One such contract is SSE Green. This is our 100% renewable electricity tariff, which is fully backed by Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origins (REGOs)* and independently verified by EcoAct, a Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Accredited Provider. This means you can be confident the electricity your organisation has purchased is renewably sourced and can be reported with zero carbon emissions under the GHG Protocol market-based method.

Use our energy efficiency toolkit

Even small adjustments such as switching off computer monitors when they’re not being used and turning off lights can translate into reduced carbon emissions. But to make the most of quick wins, it’s important that you and your employees know how energy is actually been consumed for specific tasks. To help our customers do this, we’ve developed a free energy efficiency toolkit, which is available on our website.

It includes useful resources like a checklist to help you assess your company’s current energy efficiency, simple steps you can take to start saving money immediately and advice on how to keep your employees engaged with the energy efficiency process.

Keep up with regulations

Frameworks like the incoming SECR and ESOS (you can find out more about these by reading our recent SECR and ESOS blogs) give larger firms a clear opportunity to get their house in order. SECR requires qualifying companies to provide energy use reports, while ESOS requires firms to audit their energy use every four years. Both can help businesses find opportunities for improvement, whether through sophisticated use of data or simply through addressing usage that could be made more energy efficient.

Take these steps to keep up your energy efficiency momentum throughout the year with a sustained approach to cutting carbon emissions.

To find out more about energy efficiency, and how SSE Business Energy can help, please visit our website or speak to your account manager.

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