Welcome to save@work - helping offices to save energy and cut carbon.

The Hungarian partner, GreenDependent Institute, compiled an "office energy saving quiz" for the Energy Teams and other employees of the competing buildings, and announced it as the third save@work challenge. Since everybody likes quizzes, we were sure that it will be a success... and we were right!

The challenge consisted of two parts: first, the membersBlog 12 photo1
 of each Energy Team had to fill in one quiz together, then the Energy Teams had to encourage their own colleagues to do the same – this time individually, possibly creating a little event around it. While for the first part the focus was on how many answers the Energy Teams got right, in the second part the organisers did not check how well the quizzes were filled in (we left this task to the Energy Teams) but instead we put the emphasis on the creativeness and successfulness of the promotion activity within the buildings. The two parts of the challenge had different deadlines, we provided the Energy Teams with the correct answers only after they had submitted their quizzes. The challenge was running for two months, giving everybody ample time to prepare. Moreover, the Christmas Holidays were also within this timeframe, so if the Energy Teams wanted to, with the help of the quiz they could make their office Christmas celebration a little greener.

The questions were mostly based on the information provided in the energy saving tips, the Strategic Handbook or the Green Clicks tool, so in a way the quiz also contributed to promoting these materials one more time. The Energy Teams did so well that we couldn't help but give all of those a prize who filled the quiz in. Without an exception they reached at least 85%!

Blog 12 photo2In regards to publicising the quiz among colleagues, the building who received the first prize organised a Christmas celebration, where they drank the Fairtrade tea they won for the second save@work challenge. The employees baked some cakes to supplement it and lit candles they had made themselves earlier. As the Energy Team pointed out in their report about the event, since almost everybody attended the celebration, the energy consumption of the building reduced significantly for that day. At the end, 94 % of the employees filled in the quiz.

Other buildings chose to promote the office energy saving quiz online, via e-mails or sharing a link to the electronic version of the quiz they created. All buildings marked the completed quizzes they received and handed out presents, such as the save@work mugs, to the best performing employees. Rewarding the efforts of the participating buildings, the organisers presented them with coupons which they can spend on energy saving equipment.

 

Written by: GreenDependent Institute, Hungary

Guest blog from Dave Bailey, a member of the Save@Work energy team at Telford Land Registry, England.

We had a question submitted to us recently about our asking staff to turn off monitors not only when you leave work, but also when you are only leaving your desk for a few minutes. Monitors these days are pretty energy efficient, so how much difference does it really make, and is it worth all the effort we’ve put into going on about it all the time? Well, we did the maths and we’ve come to the following conclusion (drumroll please):

No, it isn’t really…if you’re only talking about 1 monitor. Here’s the basic breakdown of what we found:

On standby (when the power light glows orange) our Dell monitors’ power usage is just an impressive 1 watt (according to CNET). Energy usage is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). 1 kWh is equal to the amount of energy you would use if you kept a 1000 watt appliance running for 1 hour. To give a rough idea, here are some approximate examples of how quickly other appliances use 1 kWh:

  • A full dishwasher or washing machine cycle
  • 3 hours of watching a plasma TV
  • 1-2 days on a laptop
  • Boiling 10 kettles
  • 1 hour of ironing
  • Keeping a fridge-freezer on for about 3 hours

1 of our monitors would need to be on standby for 1000 hours (about 41.5 days) to use 1 kWh of energy. Not much by itself, but we don’t use just 1 monitor. 2 monitors on standby would eat through that in 500 hours. 4 monitors in 250 hours. Telford office currently uses about 490 monitors. If they were all left on standby they would use 1 kWh of energy in about 2 hours. Stepping away from your desk and leaving your monitors on for 3 minutes here, 10 minutes there, a 1 hour meeting elsewhere will continue to pile on the energy use.

Telford is quite small as Land Registry offices go – about 4500 people are employed by Land Registry, which equates to approximately 9000 monitors. This many monitors left on standby hits the 1 kWh mark in under 7 minutes. Land Registry is quite small as far as offices in the UK go – imagine how quickly the energy usage shoots up UK-wide? And again, what about monitors the world over, many of which would not be as energy efficient as our Dell monitors?

This underpins the entire point of the message coming from the save@work competition – small changes to energy usage habits can have large positive impacts. Turning our monitors off while we’re not looking at them isn’t going to make an appreciable difference to the competition figures, but that’s not really the point. The point is the more of us that adopt these practices, the bigger the difference we make. What’s more, these habits can be adopted at home as well – the average cost of electricity in the UK is between 11 and 14 pence per kWh – not much when you’re talking 1 or 2, but the more conscious you are of where you can save (switching off monitors or plug sockets) the more these small savings mount up over time.

What it comes down to is this: if it is powering a standby light, then it is using power, regardless of how little, and if it is not, then it is not, which is saving energy, cutting carbon and reducing costs.

 

Monitor

October in Budapest brought around a Save@Work midterm event, inviting along all of the Hungarian Energy Teams. The event aimed to boost enthusiasm of the teams after the summer break and to carry this beyond the midterm of the competition.

At the event, the Energy Teams were encouraged to share their experiences. One member from the municipality of Tata recounted his battles with phantom colleagues to close windows in corridors when the heating is on, and how their Energy Team secretly turned down the faucets under the sinks to reduce water flow and prevent excessive use of hot water. At the same time they bought desk lamps; reorganised the areas around printers to encourage separate collection of paper waste; and have been rewarding all colleagues with Save@Work gifts, even those which are not heavily engaged with saving energy, with the idea that they develop a bad conscience prompting them to join the saving efforts - a novel logic indeed!

In another building, the smallest of the Miskolc municipality, the Energy Team put emphasis on the creative side of energy saving. Each month they set a special theme: they brought in and exchanged plants during spring, organised an energy saving and climate quiz in June, and challenged employees to come up with essays, poems, decorations and installations on the topic of climate change and environmentally-friendly living during July and August. They also have an “idea box” created using old cans where colleagues can share energy-saving tips, ideas or related events. Competition prizes included mugs and bags with the Save@Work logo on, which they received as part of their starter kit. The Save@Work design is used on all of their materials, including newsletters, which has even been noticed by their boss, commenting that the bright colours around the building cheers her up from time to time.

Photo HU blog 2


After presentations, there was a group discussion session where participants could exchange thoughts on the challenges and successes they had experienced so far as part of the competition. Several participants mentioned how beneficial the Save@Work campaign has been in strengthening the workplace community, providing a great opportunity to get to know their colleagues’ more which has appeared to cause pleasant surprises for several co-workers. Many also pointed out that their bosses’ support has been vital in introducing new energy saving measures, and providing rewards to colleagues every now and then can be very motivating.

To conclude the event, GreenDependent distributed prizes to the participating buildings’ employees for filling in so many pre-campaign surveys and for their contribution in the two Save@Work challenges they have held so far, as well as for a little game during the midterm event itself (participants competed in small groups to gather the most energy saving tips concerning their immediate workstations). Among other prizes, the buildings received 70 native Hungarian fruit trees, which in addition to providing delicious fruits in a few years’ time and helping to preserve biodiversity, actually help to offset the carbon footprint of the Save@Work starting event and training. Some Energy Teams decided to gift the trees to the most enthusiastic energy savers in their buildings, whilst others donated them to local school gardens. GreenDependent also presented the national and international results of the pre-campaign surveys, and the national energy savings so far, discussing the tasks of the second half of the Save@Work campaign, which will hopefully proceed in high spirits after such a “fruitful” midterm event!  

Photo HU blog 3

To meet up, share experiences, boost enthusiasm and simply have a good time, a motivation meeting for all Latvian Save@Work participants was held on the 3rd of November this year. The event was hosted by Tukums municipality Council energy team.

To kick things off, the teams looked at the overall energy saving results and were given awards for the most active participants. There were 5 categories:

  • Film star
  • Twitter activist
  • Most accurate participant
  • Most responsive participant
  • Most knowledgeable energy team.

No need to be sad for those outside the winning circle – all participants were winners as altogether Latvian teams had reached an excellent midterm energy saving result! Therefore, Save@Work cake for everyone!

 

Latvia blog Dec 2

 

After the small award ceremony all participants were divided in mixed-up teams to share and discuss their experiences in the competition so far. Each team discussed and later presented one of 3 following topics: Project support materials, Energy saving measures implemented in buildings, and Communication with colleagues. Some interesting points from the discussion:

  • According to the participants, the best campaign support materials have been stickers, energy tips and definitely chocolates!
  • Energy saving actions and campaigns in buildings can be very different and still effective. The most important is motivation. Individual approach is also essential – best to speak to a colleague directly rather than sending one impersonal chain email.
  • Communicating energy saving ideas to other colleagues in the building can be easier or harder but as participants concluded – even the most sceptic colleagues have become positive and accepted changes in the working place after some time.
  • It also seems that some energy saving habits as switching off the PC screen and unnecessary lighting are here to stay also once the Save@Work competition ends.

Now, after meeting up and while everyone is still in high spirits, there is only one thing left to do - to continue the actions and keep up the good work!

 

Latvia blog Dec 3

  Latvia blog Dec 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Experiences from the Latvian Save@Work Energy Teams

The Telford Land Registry save@work team in the UK have really taken the spirit of the project to heart and gone one step further by setting up its own library of climate change and environmental books and resources for staff to borrow and share. In a call to staff to see if they could add to their library they even got Open University module books on Climate Change for those who might be interested in looking at the impacts of climate change and the science behind it in greater detail.

 

Telford Blog 1


For those looking for something more visual there are videos available for hire such as ‘The Age of Stupid’ and ‘An inconvenient truth’ – both of which warn against doing nothing to combat ever increasing greenhouse gases.

The Telford team are keen to help their colleagues understand the infinitely bigger picture of what it means to reduce carbon emissions and have thrown down the gauntlet to competing energy teams, keen to show they are in the running for the ‘most effective energy campaign’ prize!

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