Why managing energy is not just for the ‘energy person’

This is a guest blog post from Geraint Norman, National Assets Working Group.

At the end of June, I took part in a Good Practice Exchange seminar. This one was on Energy Management. Like Neville Rookes from the Welsh Local Government Association (who has already blogged about this seminar), I helped facilitate a workshop on the day. There were many energy specialists at the seminar, but what was most interesting for me was the need to avoid a ‘bitty’ approach to energy management. Make it a part of everyone’s daily work and you’ll get much further than leaving it to the energy specialists alone.

National Assets Working Group / Gweithgor Asedau Cenedlaethol

I don’t know if all readers will immediately agree with me. In some organisations, energy is the responsibility of the facilities team and doesn’t always capture the interest of senior leadership. But what about the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme? What about saving money in a period of austerity? Making sure energy is managed right across your organisation can lead to some real benefits.

It was great to hear lots of good practice from delegates. There was also lots of sharing of ideas and examples where improved energy management has improved services. I was particularly interested in three ideas that we discussed during the seminar.

  1. Include energy management in staff performance reviews. Sounds a little scary, but could be an effective way to make sure each department keeps on top of energy use. It’s also a way of demonstrating good management skills; staff and budget management. Directors can also hold their managers to account if they are specifically made responsible for this aspect of making savings.
  2. Get senior leaders interested in energy efficiency. Not always easy I know, but making it a key objective for your organisation gives you a good amount of leverage to get things done. Renia Kotynia from Wrexham County Borough Council had some good examples of how to get senior leadership involved.
  3. Try and make saving energy fun. Yes, it should be part of your strategy and yes it should be carefully monitored and managed – but it should also involve your colleagues. During the seminar, I heard about coloured sticker systems, blackouts and asking staff their opinions on new energy projects. These could be good ways to make sure that everyone thinks about saving energy as they go about their daily work, not just the energy manager.

So, what am I and the National Assets Working Group going to take forward from this seminar? Well firstly as a Group we need to communicate the outputs from the seminar across the sectors. We then need to keep energy management on the agenda and consider the need for future events.  As a Group we will also be supporting the Wales Audit Office in its future shared learning seminars. I look forward to seeing some of you there.

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