American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
Energy behavior programs aimed at reducing building energy use through change in employees’ attitudes and behaviors, such as those instituted at the House of Representatives and the Empire State Building, can help build an energy-efficient office culture, according to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
These programs also create benefits that extend beyond the workplace as participants often become more energy conscious at home and in their communities.
One of the case studies examined—the Green the Capitol Initiative, a program instituted by the House of Representatives—was recognized as a positive example of how government can deploy low-cost, low-risk energy initiatives to control its own energy usage through the change of its employees’ attitudes and behavior toward energy saving.
The Green the Capitol Initiative promoted a comprehensive package aimed at reducing energy use, waste and the carbon footprint of the House of Representatives by switching electricity fuel from coal to natural gas, relighting the Capitol Dome with compact fluorescent lightbulbs and promoting a series of behavior programs at offices, such as turning off computers and other office equipment when not in use, carpooling, commuting by bicycle and recycling. Eighteen months after its launch, the Green the Capitol Initiative had reduced the institution’s carbon footprint 74 percent.
The report also looked at four other energy behavior case studies across the U.S. and Canada, including the Tenant Energy Management Program in the Empire State Building; Conservation Action! at BC Hydro, Canada; an energy behavior campaign undertaken at a provincial governmental building in Canada; and the TLC-Care to Conserve program at the University Health Network of the University of Toronto.
Four common intervention approaches were shared by the five energy behavior programs:
(1) Setting the tone with the support of upper management and its public pledge;
(2) Building a team with a project committee and peer champions on board;
(3) Using communication tools such as email, prompts, websites, public meetings and posters to reach target audiences; and
(4) Engaging building occupants by means of feedback, benign peer pressure and competition, as well as performance-linked rewards.
The report suggests that the key benefits of energy behavior programs extend beyond the workplaces that undertake these programs. Often a change in participants’ thinking and behaviors follows, and after participation in the program, they might become more active in their own energy-saving practices.
About the ACEEE
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments and behaviors.