Why doesn't energy efficiency happen?
Today’s blog is inspired by two tweets last night from Mel Starrs who writes the Elemental blog on green building issues:
Energy efficiency *should* be no-brainer. Businesses acting in self interest (cheaper bills) are also acting in interest of society (co2)
So why doesn’t it happen? Are the incentives not great enough? Would carbon taxing incentivise or create regulations to be circumvented?
So why doesn’t it happen? Here are some reasons:
- For many organisations, energy/carbon costs are still low relative to, say, the pay roll. This is changing as costs increase;
- A misalignment of responsibility and authority – most environmental managers have lots of responsibility and precious little authority. If it is operations/site managers who have the authority to change things then it is they who must be given responsibility;
- Wishful thinking – “We’ve appointed energy champions. Job done.” An extreme form of the the above;
- A lack of accountability – if you want to draw someone’s attention to something, give them a target to hit and hold them to it;
- Many organisations have no control over the management of their buildings – particularly offices. They pay the bills, but the management company operates the boiler;
- Sloppy company culture – machines left on, vehicles used for the supermarket run, unnecessary business travel;
- A lack of empowerment – “It’s more than my job’s worth to turn that off.”
- Ignorance – “If I whack up the thermostat, the office will warm more quickly.”
- Inertia – “we’ve always done it like that”, “That sound? That’s always there. No, we don’t check our compressed air system for leaks. Should we?” etc
Very rarely is the real reason money. Northern Foods have saved several million a year in energy and waste costs and they say 60-70% of it was achieved through behavioural change. I always say the true barrier to sustainability is about 6 inches wide – the space between our ears. Most of the problems and solutions can be found there.