Businesses should be aiming to become more energy efficient, and a new virtual tour app from the Carbon Trust allows employees to find out how they can make everyday actions more environmentally friendly.
The online tool Empower was launched in January 2012 with to make it easier for businesses to get employees interested in energy saving methods around the office.
Richard Rugg, director of Carbon Trust programmes, says their research shows that “UK businesses and public bodies could save £500 million and two million tonnes of CO2 by engaging staff in simple measures such as cutting energy use, paper waste and travel”. The Carbon Trust also says small organisations could save more than £6,000 a year by using Empower, and larger organisations could save £150,000.
The Carbon Trust already had a number of toolkits that calculate energy use, explains Rugg, so to create the Empower app they took on a number of suggestions to “make [the energy saving toolkits] more fun and engaging for employees, and combined all of the components within one tool”.
He added, “We rigorously carried out numerous calculations to ensure that the carbon saving numbers for each pledge are realistic”.
Since the site launched it has been used by over 1,500 people. Rugg says, “There is particular interest in using Empower as a practical learning platform that can help teams to reduce their energy consumption.
“There is a need to demonstrate to the wider business that as they save energy, they also save money, which in turn can deliver real commercial benefits to the bottom line whilst reducing carbon emissions.”
The app includes a virtual tour of a typical office and highlights how turning lights off or saving water can save energy. It then allows people to make pledges to say how they would improve on their behaviour to make it more environmentally friendly.
Some of the recommendations are only small; they include using the kettle to boil only the amount of water you need, drying your hands more efficiently and making sure to switch off all electronic equipment at the end of the day, but they all add up.
We tried the app out at the Blue & Green Tomorrow offices, which are small with fewer than 10 fulltime employees. Even with our heightened awareness of environmental issues the app suggested that we could make an estimated annual saving of 223kg CO2 — the equivalent two streetlights.
The Carbon Trust is also working on tailoring the app for specific businesses, which should be available in April or May. As the content is tailored, pledges will be more appropriate and the graphics will be flexible to add more or less to the virtual tour.
Whilst the tool is a “fun yet practical way” of getting employees interested in making energy savings around their offices, Rugg explains the benefits also include getting “organisations to influence green behaviour outside the office by enhancing employees’ understanding of the impacts and opportunities to reduce waste and cut carbon emissions”.
If you want to try out Empower for your business to see where you can make energy savings then visit the Carbon Trust website. As part of your savings you might want to switch to a green, renewable energy company. Blue & Green Tomorrow recommends Good Energy because they are the only 100% renewable energy company in the UK.