Behavioural Energy Management - The Human Factor
Energy management programs have been created to increase sustainability, reduce costs and increase efficiency for energy end users. One of the most important method's to achieve these results is through behavioural energy management i.e. energy efficient occupant behaviour in buildings and industrial facilities.
Energy managers or 'energy champions' instill practices designed to obtain energy savings - thus leading to competitive advantages for businesses that are willing to identify smart energy investments, and securing financial incentives.
A standards and regulations based approach is required to create and be apart of a professional environment that prides itself on financial and environmental sustainability. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) prescribes energy-efficient products in accordance with energy efficiency regulations. A systems-based approach is required in energy management due to the wide range of factors that contribute to occupant morale within buildings & facilities. For example, over-heating or over-cooling will create discomfort among occupant and ultimately reduces productivity. Feed-back of occupants is essential in energy management programs with the objective of creating optimal operation conditions. Automated buildings and facilities are inclined to follow total quality management philosophies such as Kaizen. Continuous improvement values the input of all members in the organizational hierarchy. Just by informing occupants that their opinion on this issue is valued, more responsive feedback will be obtained. When occupants see that their comfort and well-being is valued, they will also be more likely to attempt to save energy.
Organizations with the intent of achieving greater productivity aim to eliminate wasted energy. Employee awareness of efficient energy practices requires training and commitment from senior management who understand the benefits of energy management. Lean and just-in-time manufacturing have traditionally incorporated the Kanban system. Kanban is a scheduling system using signboards and billboards developed to control the supply chain and improve manufacturing efficiency. However, using the appropriate signaling techniques, occupants will have greater awareness of the energy practices being incorporated in the building or facility. The change in behaviour is initiated using signs that provide the occupant with timely reminders.
In addition to on-site energy training for employees, one suggestion is to help employees achieve energy savings in their own homes where they themselves pay the bill and will see the direct financial benefit of being more efficiency. Hopefully - this will permeate into the work environment and employees will feel a natural duty to think of energy as a resource which needs to be used carefully - as opposed to something free and abundant.
Measuring these programs is also highly important - understanding which training or method achieved the greatest savings is important in planning ongoing programs. Bench-marking the building to a high degree of accuracy will allow these results to give you data-driven insights as opposed to going off your gut.
Edgecom Energy has introduced sustainability initiatives for a wide variety of facilities - to learn how we can help you achieve energy savings through your employees, contact us.