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In this edition:

Workplaces where everyone is responsible

The ultimate for any organisation is for everybody to be responsible for sustainability and part of their job to make it happen. But because sustainability...
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Using sport to change environmental behaviour

We spend a good part of our time playing games and sports and an even more time doing something that six in ten of us say we are unhappy doing: working!...
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Live Energy Wall builds awareness

On entering the Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning at Edge Hill University, staff and students are hit by a wall. But this is no ordinary wall; in fact...
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Staff respond to walking challenge

Workplaces throughout Ireland have just completed the annual Pedometer Challenge, a campaign to get people out of their cars and walk to work, make other...
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Stairway to energy heaven

If getting people to use the lift less is part of your programme, then you may want to remind them about something they’re probably not aware of – a lift uses...
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Tip: energy saving IS for Christmas

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Workplaces where everyone is responsible

The ultimate for any organisation is for everybody to be responsible for sustainability and part of their job to make it happen. But because sustainability (or for that matter energy or environmental management) often “sits” in a department, many people think it’s a good idea but not really their job. As part of its campaign to overcome this problem, Unilever (in Australia – New Zealand), decided to give everyone in the company a new job title: Head of Sustainability.

To help implement its Sustainable Living Plan, every Unilever employee in Australia and New Zealand received a ‘Head of Sustainability’ business card with their name on it, along with a ‘Job manual’ explaining sustainability, why they were given the new title and what’s required of them in their new role. The campaign was launched with the participation of the CEO, and workshops, stickers and posters helped roll it out. Displayed throughout workplaces, posters were produced with photos of real members of staff and the slogan “Meet our new Head of Sustainability”, and what they had helped achieve as team members on sustainability issues, such as energy saving or greenhouse gas reduction.

Among the aims of the campaign is to make sustainability a core part of everyone’s job, build ownership of the issue and increase understanding of the company’s new Sustainable Living Plan. By making everybody “Head of Sustainability”, the company wants to get the message across that it’s the combined everyday actions of all staff and every department that can make a major difference to the business and the environment.

The campaign aims to get staff behind the company’s Sustainable Living Plan which has ambitious goals to halve the environmental footprint of products; source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably and help stakeholders (including customers) take action to improve their health and well-being. Sustainability is to be the new way of working and doing business for everybody at Unilever.

As it says on one of the posters: “When it comes to sustainability, everyone can make a difference. Like Mahindra our Production Controller who is part of the team that helped reduce greenhouse gases per tonne of production by 9.5% since 2008. That’s why we’re making you, Mahindra and everyone at Unilever our new Head of Sustainability.”

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Using sport to change environmental behaviour

We spend a good part of our time playing games and sports and an even more time doing something that six in ten of us say we are unhappy doing: working! Now behaviour change experts are trying to combine the two and introduce gaming techniques into the work environment to motivate people on environmental and other issues. And one event happening in 2012 provides a unique opportunity to use its appeal and boost your environmental programmes – the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To help organisations promote environmental behaviour change through events like the Olympic and Paralympic Games, DEFRA commissioned a how-to guide to help seize the opportunity. Games Theory is a practical guide outlining 19 principles to help you develop your communications for environmental behaviour change through large scale events like the Games. Although the report also covers community-wide activities, the objective of using the Games and many of the recommended principles in the report, are applicable to workplace campaigns.

According to the authors Futerra, the Games can encourage environmental behaviour change and inspire people through:

  • The spectacle
  • Team spirit
  • The sense of optimism
  • The brand’s halo effect

Large-scale events like the Games generate a powerful desire to get involved or help out. So by using the theme of the Games in your own environmental campaigns you can harness this desire and capitalise on the buzz around this global event. The principles underlying environmental initiatives often closely reflect those of the Games, like teamwork, participation, commitment and ‘positivity’. The key is to generate ways for people to take-part in your campaign.

The report presents 19 principles for grasping the opportunity of large scale events to help change individual behaviour. From using the Games to launch your campaign, to adapting your messages to “capture the pride of the nation during an Olympic Games”. As the Games will be at the forefront of many people’s minds in the run up and during the event, by associating your initiative with the Games you can help get your message through – salience being one of the key conditions for behaviour change. The themes, symbolism and iconography of the Olympics can also be used to generate awareness, interest and participation in your initiative.

The Olympic and Paralympic brands provide a ‘halo effect’ to initiatives associated with them. After all, that’s why so many multi-national corporations spend millions on them. But a word of warning, don’t overplay it, as people will see through any attempt at green-washing or over-selling.

  • Further information:
  • Games Theory - using the power of sport for pro-environmental behaviour change.
    Futerra. 2011 www.futerra.co.uk
  • Games Theory DEFRA

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Live Energy Wall builds awareness

On entering the Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning at Edge Hill University, staff and students are hit by a wall. But this is no ordinary wall; in fact it’s an Energy Information Wall that displays live energy consumption of the building. As more energy is used, the 1500mm x 3000mm glass panel wall changes colour, reminding staff and students to turn off computers, lights and other electrical equipment after use. Light panels in the wall are connected to a system that constantly monitors electricity use, compares it with the planned level of consumption, and makes the wall glow green, amber, or red, depending on the level of electrical energy consumption. Also in the wall is a digital display showing the temperature of the solar panels, storage cylinders and the total kWh produced.

The live energy wall is a distinctive feature of this state-of-the-art building, which incorporates many unique eco-friendly features and is at the forefront of a drive to reduce the University's carbon footprint.

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Staff respond to walking challenge

Workplaces throughout Ireland have just completed the annual Pedometer Challenge, a campaign to get people out of their cars and walk to work, make other journeys by foot, and help promote sustainability at work. Each participating workplace set-up a team of 3 – 6 walkers, headed by a Team Captain, with the aim of clocking up steps measured on team-member’s personal pedometer. The workplace teams competed against each other with running totals logged on the online League Table. Steps could be anything from using the stairs instead of the lift, to walking home from the office.

To give participants some goals, teams were challenged to “climb” the equivalent of the world’s highest mountains each week over a month: including Mt Kilimanjaro 45,708 steps; K2 66,390 steps; and Mt Everest 68,232 steps. The Team Captain was responsible for registering the team’s steps and monitoring progress over the course of the Challenge.

Organised by Smarter Travel Workplaces and backed by the Irish Heart Foundation, teams were supported through a range of resources including an online Journey Logger, a Step log to record steps per day, the online Leader Board, a workplace Poster, training slides for Team Captains, and a captain’s Record Sheet. Prizes were also offered and raffled among the top ten teams, including cash vouchers and a place on the Irish Heart Foundation European walk in 2012 worth €2,500. Spot prizes of iPod Shuffles and shopping vouchers were also on offer to any team that reached the “top” of the mountain peaks. A Facebook page provided up-to-date information, feedback and announced prize winners.

Teams in about 40 of some of Ireland’s largest employers took part, including banks, hospitals, local authorities and energy suppliers. One team captain commented that the challenge “created great banter around the office and lifted people’s spirits”; while others said that their colleagues were more aware of their activity levels and staff morale and team spirit were boosted. Encouraging employees to be more active not only improves their health, but it also makes good business sense, and all through a fun workplace event.

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Stairway to energy heaven

If getting people to use the lift less is part of your programme, then you may want to remind them about something they’re probably not aware of – a lift uses more energy going down than going up. Of course there are some caveats, like the number of people in the lift, but the majority of lifts are of the mechanical type, and use a counterweights system, so the lift normally uses more energy descending (as the motor has to ‘pull up’ the counterweights) than when ascending, if it has a relatively light load inside. Asking people to save energy by not using the lift won’t always help you win friends, but people don’t have to do the difficult bit of trudging up the stairs, they can save more energy by taking the easy way out and walking down.

Most of us are probably in good enough shape to walk down the stairs instead of calling the lift, and besides, our bodies will be grateful for the exercise. Promoting stair use on health grounds offers an extra benefit, and this was the objective of a promotional campaign carried out in a 5-story office building in Glasgow over a 6-week period. The campaign achieved a significant increase in stair use. One of the keys to the initiative was to include an explicit target of 7-minutes stair climbing per day. An A2 poster in the lobby displayed the campaign main message: “Doctors have found that 7 minutes of stair climbing a day halves your risk of a heart attack over a 10 year period. There are 1440 minutes in a day. Can you spare 7 minutes to live longer?” A “Stairs this way” arrow pointed the way, above which was another poster with the prompt message “7 minutes of stair climbing a day protects your heart”, which was also placed inside the lift. Six different banners on the benefits of stair use were placed on each flight of stairs in the stairwell, ranging from “… aids weight loss” to “… keeps you fit”.

Health and fitness benefits offer a welcome asset in getting people out of the lift, and resources for a campaign are available from the NHS Scotland in the form of a “Stairclimbing poster pack”. There is even a free iPhone App from MeYou Health that “takes you to the top of virtual monuments as you climb real stairs”. And when you reach the top of the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” or “Mount Olympus”, you can check out the view and collect “souvenirs”. The inclusion of the 7-minute target in the Glasgow campaign proved to be more effective than a general exhortation to use the stairs, so adding some extra fun through the iPhone App with ‘distance’ targets to climb virtual monuments can help reinforce commitment.

  • Further information:
  • Source: A Workplace Intervention to Promote Stair Climbing: Greater Effects in the Overweight. F. Eves, O. Webb, and N. Mutrie.
  • What level of physical activity protects against premature cardiovascular death? The Caerphilly study. Heart. May, 2003.
  • Stairclimbing poster pack - NHS Health Scotland, Publications Catalogue 2011
  • MeYou Health free iPhone App http://www.meyouhealth.com/monumental/
  • Stair climbing Calorie Calculator

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Tip: energy saving IS for Christmas

The Carbon Trust estimate that UK businesses miss out on the opportunity to save around £9 million over the Christmas period by not pushing the ‘Off’ button, and pump over 50,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every day as a result. Central government HQ buildings alone in the UK made 30% energy savings last Christmas, 2010.

Implementing simple energy efficiency measures, such as turning off lights and turning down the heating in empty offices during the holidays can pay dividends. Campaigns like Harvard University’s ‘Turn it off before you take off’ included a poster identifying what to do and an email link “which allows you to add a holiday break shutdown list to your Outlook calendar as a reminder to help save energy before you leave for the holiday”. Others such as Newcastle University set a challenge of achieving the lowest electricity consumption during the Christmas break in the last five years, backed by their ‘12 tips at Christmas’ flier and a series of 6 posters to remind people to switch off unnecessary equipment.

So with the help of a few seasonal suggestions you could help cut energy waste over the festive period.

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Resources

Visit www.energyXchange.eu to see examples of awareness materials. Follow the links …

A simple explanation of the Greenhouse Effect from National Geographic

Green Tips from the European Environment Agency Ideal for emails and other communications

CAMPAIGN 2 SUSTAIN poster competition – Ride-A-Bike

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