Behavioural change: Unlocking energy productivity through EP100

28 Sep 2018



By Grace Gosling, former Project Coordinator, Corporate Initiatives, The Climate Group.

Energy efficiency improvements are key to keeping global warming well below 2°C. However, they are also a powerful business opportunity, allowing global companies to invest in ambitious smart energy solutions, and reap substantial energy and cost savings.

The IEA has listed increased energy efficiency in the industry, buildings and transport sectors as key to ensuring a climate-safe world, and makes a compelling case for the role of existing technologies in driving the shift to smarter energy use. Crucially, it highlights that a multitude of energy efficiency measures can be implemented now – there is no excuse to not take action.

Following the success of its RE100 initiative, The Climate Group launched EP100 in partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy to facilitate companies taking exactly such action by doubling their energy productivity - meaning there will be twice the economic output from every unit of energy they consume.

This metric reframes energy efficiency in terms of its broader, socio-economic and environmental benefits. Not only does energy productivity resonate in the boardroom; it also drives deeper behavioural changes at all levels within a business, ensuring that solutions are effective in the long term and that making smarter use of energy is integrated into the core of business strategy. 

Business action on smart energy

With full control of their own operations, companies are key to rolling out smart energy solutions on the ground. A recent study found that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions, making it clear that business leadership on climate action is not a nice to have, but a necessity.

Our original EP100 commitment asks companies to double their energy productivity within 25 years; however, to drive faster action and further engage a larger and broader group of companies on smart energy solutions, we recently introduced two new commitment pathways. These ask businesses to implement an energy management system across their facilities within 10 years, or commit to operate only net zero carbon buildings by 2030, with the latter led by the World Green Building Council.

To make real progress on energy efficiency, however, we need more than investments in the right technologies. Instead, we also need an inherent behavioural shift, changing how companies view energy efficiency and allaying their fears of costly up-front investments. This behaviour shift can happen, if we start showing companies the long-term benefits and powerful business case for action on smart energy.

Through EP100, we do exactly that. By focusing on energy productivity, rather than the inverse – energy intensity – EP100 takes advantage of the more positive connotations associated with production, as well as the optics of a metric which display an upwards trend when plotted over time.

This makes for a more compelling business case, and with global companies now committed to EP100, the case for energy productivity is resonating across both developed and emerging markets alike.

Behavioural changes driving energy productivity

Behavioural change is vital to improving energy productivity. At the most fundamental level, the spaces in which we work affect both how we think and feel, providing the interface between our behaviour and the energy system. The links between building quality and health are well documented, and many building certifications, such as the WELL Certification, now include health as a key element.

In 2017, EP100 member Landsec became the first workplace globally to achieve both WELL Certified Silver and BREEAM outstanding, setting a global benchmark for healthy, sustainable office space. Landsec’s project has driven an array of behavioural changes, primarily around employee productivity and collaboration, with staff sending 18% fewer internal emails, a 65% reduction in printing, and 90% of employees believing that the new environment has a positive effect on workplace culture.

As well as optimising energy use in buildings, manufacturing processes are another key area for energy productivity measures to drive behavioural change. EP100 member Johnson Controls has taken a lead on integrating energy management systems into its manufacturing through ISO 50001, maximising visibility of energy consumption and enabling informed decisions around the implementation of new technologies and practices.

To engage staff in its energy efficiency journey, Johnson Controls established an “Energy Hunt” programme to empower local sites with the necessary knowledge and tools to identify and implement energy savings projects. Through this scheme, the company identified three times as many energy savings potentials as it had in the previous year and energy intensity fell by a further 3%.

These changes were largely attributed to a shift in employee culture, showing the key role of behavioural engagement in enabling a business to make smarter use of energy. The changes, however, are also bringing down energy bills – Johnson Controls is reporting cost savings of over USD 100 million from a 2002 baseline after joining EP100 two years ago.

Demonstrating the business case for a heavy manufacturing company based in emerging markets too, Indian EP100 member Mahindra & Mahindra has reported a return on investment for its energy efficiency projects of over 24%.

Stepping up

The urgent need for corporate action on smarter energy use is clear, and so is the path to achieving it.

Ambitious companies are stepping up on climate action by driving forward energy efficiency measures and reducing emissions in ways that make business sense. We now need more companies to commit to EP100, taking on the urgent task of improving their energy productivity to help accelerate the growth of clean energy systems across the globe.

Read more about EP100 here.

Grace Gosling
joined The Climate Group in October 2015 and worked as Project Coordinator for the EP100 initiative, supporting its development and working with global companies committed to making energy productivity improvements as well as working to further the energy productivity movement. She obtained her BSc in Geography from the University of Sussex, where she specialised in climate science and palaeoclimatology. Grace has now left The Climate Group.