British business missing out on £300m in carbon savings
New research from the Carbon Trust shows that UK workplaces are missing out on more than £300m a year in savings that could be achieved through encouraging employees to adopt greener behaviours.
Less than a quarter of UK employees have been asked to help save energy at work, says the Trust, and fewer than half are concerned about the cost of energy for their employer.
Richard Rugg, md of programmes at the Carbon Trust, said: “Employees are the greatest asset of UK business, but when most of us enter the office, we take far less care to save energy and use resources efficiently than we do at home. The good news is that employees are willing to help and by understanding how employees act in the workplace, businesses can unlock significant bottom line savings.”
“But behavioural psychology tells us that just telling employees what to do is not enough. Employers need to understand what motivates or blocks good behaviour to really unlock cost, waste and carbon savings. For example using negative messages can lead to unpredictable results, including the potential for backlash.”
Using techniques from behavioural psychology to encourage staff to take simple actions on workplace energy consumption, travel and waste employers can help deliver significant reductions in operational costs and carbon emissions. For example reducing the energy used for lighting by 10% - something readily achievable by many organisations - equates to total annual savings across the UK of over £55m, says the Trust.
Rugg added: “A small but growing number of organisations are starting to recognise the opportunity in engaging their workforce in low carbon behaviour.
“But even when they have the best intentions, many organisations struggle to engage employee power. It takes more than a just an occasional nagging email or a “switch me off” sticker to tap into the opportunity. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, it is important to understand the workplace and the people in it. It takes time to turn actions into habits.”