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A crucial part of any energy and carbon management activity is to excite behaviour change to reduce energy waste and emissions across an organisation’s facilities and operations. It is also to increase awareness about the connection between energy and services such as lighting, heating, transport, hot water, cooling, entertainment, etc.

The ability of an energy and carbon manager to inspire and influence people is just as important as technical or engineering skills. Changing to a more energy and emissions conscious culture means people inevitably must modify their own habits and ways of working. Hence, those managing energy and carbon in an organisation must be prepared for some reluctance. The benefits of any changes should be clearly demonstrated to everyone in the organisation for them to make a lasting difference.

Energy Conscious Organisation

Energy Conscious Organisation (EnCO) is a framework that helps to incorporate people measures into energy management strategies and plans. The aim is to inspire and equip enough colleagues to challenge the norm and to encourage widespread adoption of energy efficiency good practices throughout the organisation. At the heart of the EnCO framework is the EnCO Matrix which can be used to review the effectiveness of an approach across five key pillars: engagement, alertness, skills, recognition and adaption. The matrix facilitates conversations about current levels of energy performance in the organisation, opportunities and challenges. It helps to focus on capabilities, awareness and motivations to change behaviour.

The internal conversations about the matrix grid help to establish a visual profile of an organisation, which facilitate development of a suitable energy use strategy.

Opportunities and motivation to change behaviour

Behaviour change is understood as targeting attitudes, behaviours and decisions implemented by those who influence energy performance as well as those who have direct hands-on control of equipment and systems. A good energy and carbon manager will aptly balance between behaviour change and usage of relevant technologies in an organisation. They will know that implementing the right behaviour change framework reduces the risk of technological solution failures and enhances the legacy benefits of technology investments.

Assessment of the scope

One of the most important prerequisites for a successful behaviour changing programme is an assessment of the scope of making energy savings and emissions reductions through people.

The scope could be assessed by internal conversations, surveys, interviews, or innovation trials. It can also be partially achieved by conducting simple walkabouts, looking for opportunities to save energy through good housekeeping. An energy and carbon manager should also identify those whose actions have a particularly significant impact on energy consumption and emissions production.

At this stage, it is desirable to establish the commitment of top management, how skilled in energy and carbon management employees are at any level of the organisation and whether energy and carbon policies and procedures are in place.

Establishing the level of awareness and motivation

It is important to understand how much influence staff have on energy usage and emissions production. Their level of knowledge, alertness and awareness, as well as motivation and recognition of the benefits of energy and carbon management need to be established.

To find out the current level of awareness and motivation, as well as to identify priority actions or areas for improvement, it is useful to ask the below questions, either via questionnaires or in conversations:

  • What impact does energy use have on the environment?
  • Why save energy and reduce GHG emissions?
  • What are the benefits of energy efficiency?
  • What is in it for me?
  • What is the energy and carbon policy of the organisation?
  • Why should I bother when others do not?
  • What different sources of energy are used?
  • What difference does it make?
  • What does energy cost?
  • How does it affect the company’s profit?
  • What does my department/building/site use?
  • How does my team/department perform across the business?
  • What is the potential for savings?
  • Can we save more than other departments?
  • How can energy be saved and GHG emissions reduced?
  • What impact would this have on our overall footprint?

It is relatively easy to increase awareness about the benefits of energy and carbon management, for example through training. Increasing motivation is usually harder to achieve.

Developing a behaviour changing campaign

Setting goals

A fundamental building block for raising awareness and motivation is development of an organisation’s energy policy. In many cases it is a requirement to publish or revise energy policy that prompts a behaviour changing campaign.

The energy policy should include:


It is important to define the key roles for a campaign and fill them with the most appropriate people.

A small team of four or five people could be formed and might consist of:

Identifying the target audiences

It is important to identify specific target audiences and decide what response is needed from them to make savings. For example, support is critical from senior management, but the actual savings will come mainly from the actions taken by plant operators and maintenance staff.

The following table is an example of how to identify the key target audiences in the organisation. A score between 1 and 5 (score 5 for highest and 1 for lowest) should be allocated for their influence and potential contribution to savings. Then the four most important groups should be identified and recruited to support the behaviour change initiative.

Function or Group
Score – influence/contribution

CEO/ Chairman

Senior Management

Middle Management









As pointed out by human behaviour experts, for behaviour change to be successful and enduring, at least 2-5% of the population needs to be involved. It means, that for an organisation with say 500 employees, it’s desirable to engage 25+ employees and involve them in better energy use.

The ideal though is to create an organisation full of ‘energy champions’ who appreciate how to get the best out of their energy-consuming equipment, how to minimise energy waste and reduce GHG emissions.

Messages, language and communication tools

It is vital to develop the right messages, use persuasive and appealing language and choose the right methods of communication.

For example, the message can be developed around budget savings, or concentrated on the environmental benefits, or both. It should be simple, appropriate to the people receiving them and in a language they can understand and associate with. It needs to be remembered, that people may not respond well to just being told to save energy and reduce emissions. For example, the message “Switch off lights when you leave the office” without the reason and benefits behind the request may be met with apathy or even resentment. The approach should be to motivate people by selling them the underlying reasons.

The methods chosen to communicate an energy saving and carbon reduction message will vary according to many factors such as the type, size and culture of an organisation or the budget available.

The below table provides examples of various communication routes.

Key communication routes


A direct form of communication, but overload should be avoided

Presentation and training (incl. digital options, for example EnergyAware | Energy Institute)

A dedicated presentation or longer-term training that will teach skills, mindsets and behaviour

Posters / stickers

These remind people to save energy, but they must be renewed at regular intervals

Staff newsletters

Staff communication should be used where available to inform people and report successes


With energy and GHG emissions on the agenda


Competitions between different teams, departments or buildings, for example a quiz or a contest to design a new poster

Pay slips

Adding energy saving messages to pay slips is a good way to attract attention


Walks around the office at regular intervals to establish good practice

Toolbox talks

Organised but informal interventions with a small group of workers on a regular basis

Energy and carbon literature

Leaflets, booklets or newsletters to show people how they can save energy and reduce emissions

Suggestion schemes

Providing a scheme for people to suggest energy saving ideas and offer rewards

External input

External experts invited to talk about energy saving and environmental issues


Maintaining momentum

It is critical to remember that awareness campaigns themselves do not change behaviour. For them to be effective, they need to be a part of an integrated approach.

To sustain continued success, feedback about the progress made should be sent regularly to the staff, using the communication routes that have been identified as the best to share information; one size is unlikely to fit all.

At the same time, an energy and carbon manager should intently listen to ideas and comments from their colleagues who have new suggestions on how to save energy and reduce emissions. Feedback on these suggestions should be delivered and appropriate actions taken.

The longer the activity runs the better ingrained the messages will become in employees’ minds, thus increasing the likelihood that they will effect a change in the organisational culture. However, it must be ensured that the campaign and the messages do not become stale.

Experts in behaviour change point at enablement as a defining factor of the more successful behaviour change programmes, i.e., increase means and reduce barriers to increase capability or opportunity, via techniques such as empowerment, increased local responsibility (of equipment), balanced score cards to manage priorities and hands on support.

Another technique to maintain the momentum could be through emphasising role modelling/social norms that provide examples for people to aspire to or imitate. This can draw on case studies, recognition and reward or opinion leaders to create new habits. This can also refer to social incentives, for example by allocating some portion of energy savings to good causes such as charitable donation, away day etc.

Organisations can also improve their workplace culture by showing staff how to save energy costs at home, for example by using the EI’s EnergyAware tool which helps improve energy literacy.

Overall, a long-term aim should be to integrate "energy efficiency" into organisation culture. By integrating energy efficiency into quality or health and safety procedures, staff induction courses, staff performance appraisals and wider environmental initiatives, energy efficiency can become “built” into the company operations and culture. This can help avoid the short-lived campaign-based approach.

Want to know more? More detailed information is available in our online training course, Level 1, Certificate in Energy Management Essentials and Energy Conscious Organisation’s resources. To learn more, visit Energy Management Training | Energy Institute and Resources | Energy Conscious Organisation, by Energy Services & Technology Association (ESTA) and Energy Institute (EI).