Energy and water efficiency consists of three areas: Behavioural, operational and technical. Whilst technical efficiency generally yields higher returns after considerable investments, behavioural and operational changes contribute to accomplish goals for energy and water reductions faster and often cheaper.
Commonly, behavioural and operational efficiency is assumed to be happening by companies. We think people are doing their best, we assume lights are switched off, we expect machinery is operated in the most efficient way. Experience has shown us that that is not necessarily so, often unintentionally so. Lack of knowledge and attention to water and energy use is widespread and habitual. It leads to wasteful behaviour costing valuable resources and most of all money.
Our senior engineers once performed an energy audit on a company that had a large walk in freezer room. The door of this freezer was not in the actual doorway, but had been casually leaned against a wall for the past 5 months. The concrete floor of about 6 meters in front of the freezer room was a solid frozen ice sheet.
The above example might be an extreme case and relatively rare, but less apparent faults are much more abundant and therefore waste more resources collectively. We asked ourselves, what is happening that such obvious energy dissipation is allowed to continue in an organisation?
Apart from the know-how that an open freezer doors freezes the whole immediate area, the motivation to make a change and the awareness of the widespread implications this energy dissipation has on the financials and the environment has been lacking. All it needed was a staff member to be switched on enough to see the impact. But no one was motivated enough, nor thought it important enough, nor was attentive enough to report the undesirable situation, and so energy wastage continued for a long time.
How can we change such habits originating from a lack of motivation, know-how and awareness?
First and foremost, humans have to be motivated to change their behaviour; they have to be taught the reasons and be prompted to embrace change. Certainly, there are various benefits of energy and water management to a company, but what is in it for the ordinary member of staff? True energy and water management cannot only come from the top down, but equally from the inside out. Well communicated environmental and financial benefits can create a sense of team effort and affiliation.
Secondly, staff need to know machinery and devices intimately to understand how energy or water is possibly being wasted. Operational efficiency for any device is important and goes a long way to minimize dissipation. Operational know-how allows employees to use devices and machinery wisely.
Thirdly, resource management calls for employees to be conscious of resources and be attentive to their workspace. In other words being aware of possible faults and less apparent inefficiencies is a beneficial attitude. A brief thought in passing, such as why a particular spot on the grass is always greener, could lead to the detection of an unseen yet very consistent water leak. Everybody carries the responsibility to detect and report even the smallest of faults such as a lightly dripping tap, and to communicate an observation such as machinery frequently left running unnecessarily. This employee attention needs to involve a sense of urgency to change, to repair and to stop faults as soon as possible. Employee awareness will lead to a system by which managers and foremen are consistently informed and can take action to eliminate energy or water dissipation. Resource awareness ensures inefficiencies are seen.
We can see now that within the behavioural and operational efficiency everybody has to be switched on through motivation, know-how and awareness. These three aspects in turn have benefits for any technical retrofits a company may have invested in as they keep up and promote supporting behavioural patterns. Therefore payback may be sooner and ROI better.
So, if you would like your company to be switched on, we recommend you back up your environmental strategy by educating all members of staff. Terra Firma Academy is proud to offer a variety of half-day courses in which environmental impacts are demonstrated and correct operational and behavioural efficiencies are communicated on an easy to understand level with many practical examples: