Energy initiatives that look great on paper and do poorly in practice often mean that tenants aren’t on board with changes that are being made. Sometimes, this is simply because they are unaware of or uneducated on their impact on the overall energy consumption of a building portfolio. The ‘not my bill, not my problem’ occupant mindset is a hurdle that Facility and Energy Managers must clear in order to get the best results — in energy efficiency and also in occupant happiness.
In order to build a community effort toward achieving energy goals, it’s important to include the occupant and provide visibility into your progress. After working on multiple projects in office spaces, schools, and on university campuses, Saheel Chandrani from Johnson Controls has some insight into how to get occupants involved in energy initiatives.
- Make it a competition. Especially in school and university settings, creating a friendly competition between floors or classrooms can be a great way to get occupants involved and excited about cutting down on energy. See who can cut down the most during a month long period, and reward the winning team with a well deserved pizza party (pizza may, in fact, be the solution to most of our problems, but that’s a whole different article).
- Show off results. By creating visibility into the energy usage of your building, occupants will be more motivated to make changes in order to see that number go down. Create a simple energy dashboard so that office mates, tenants, or students can see how their actions impact consumption.
- Educate occupants on small tweaks that can make a big impact. Everything from room temperature to the brightness on our computer screens creates an impact on energy consumption. Create a list for your occupants with small tweaks that they can make that can help save energy, like unplugging their devices when they aren’t in use and keeping the windows closed when they heat their space.
- Listen to occupant input. Occupants might have some good ideas because they are most familiar with how things are done in their space. Ask them where they think the most energy is wasted, and make a changes accordingly.
- Celebrate when you hit goals. Don’t let it go unnoticed when you hit a milestone. Create a reward system that gets occupants excited to reach goals, whether that means a free meal or just an email thanking everyone for their contribution in creating a more sustainable space.
Taking these extra steps can be the difference between hitting and missing your energy goals. To get better results and to avoid paying for forgetful occupants, occupant sensors can also make a big impact by mitigating the extra expense of covering energy expenses in unoccupied spaces.