7 Steps to Get Your Team On Board to Invest in Energy Efficiency August 13, 2014 | Samantha Dubrow

Every building owner, facility manager, building engineer, and tenant wants to live in and operate an efficient building. Efficiency isn’t the problem – getting there is. Past the low-cost initial changes that can be made in buildings to decrease utility bills, it can be challenging to pull your team together to plan and finance energy-saving projects.

If you’re ready to take the lead and convince your team it’s time to start focusing on energy efficiency, this article is for you. These steps will help you capture your team’s attention and get them on board, so you can set a path for success.

STEP 1: Identify your team.

Before developing a pitch for your audience, you need to decide who your audience is. Who are the key stakeholders you need to get involved before starting an energy project? Who will need to agree to make the investments, who will need to do the work, and who will own the project? Has anyone on your team already expressed interest in increasing energy efficiency in your buildings? How can they help you?
Once you identify the people you need to get on board, you can identify their pain points, and generate an argument to get the project started.

 

STEP 2: Use your Energy Star Score to capture their attention.

Numbers are clear, strong motivators. Begin by benchmarking your building with Energy Star, to get a score showing how it compares to similar buildings. For example, if your building has an Energy Star Score of 26, you can point out that 74% of buildings are performing better than yours.
Benchmarking provides a free and easy baseline for improvement that will help bring out the competitive edge in your team. If you get scores for multiple buildings you will have data to help determine which building needs to be worked on first.

 

STEP 3: Show them why your Energy Star Score matters.

First of all, a higher Energy Star Score constitutes lower utility bills. Show your team that raising your Energy Star Score will lead to savings every month, making the upfront investments for energy-saving projects worth while. Energy projects do not yield one-time savings; they yield savings every single month, as long as you keep your building up to high standards.
If you are looking to maintain high occupany in your building, an Energy Star Certification with a score of 75 or higher is a perfect marketing tool. Potential tenants can expect to have lower bills and be comfortable in the building. Plus, Energy Star or LEED Certifications signify that the facility manager actually cares about tenant satisfaction and will work to keep the building in good conditions for living or working.

 

STEP 4: Overcome budget constraints.

You’re going to need to put the finance issue on the table if you really want to make progress with your team. You have to prove that your company actually does have the money to invest in an energy-saving project. You may not have extra capital laying around waiting to be used, but you do have money budgeted out to spend on the energy waste that you are inevitably paying for every month.
Before your meeting, use Energy Star’s Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator, which is built to show you how much money you are wasting every month, and how much could be saved by starting an energy project. The purpose of the Calculator is to tell you the best time to invest in a new project. The Calculator accounts for fluctuating interest rates, and shows you the point at which you are actually losing money by waiting to finance a project.
If you bill your tenants for the building’s energy consumption, your team may not see why to invest in a project that will not directly save them money. There are a few ways to combat this argument.
  • Increased tenant satisfaction will keep the building fully occupied.
  • Your operating and maintenance costs will be reduced.
  • Your team will be more efficient and save time by making changes proactively.

 

The key is to remember that initial investments will bring profuse long-term benefits. It’s always a challenge to argue for upfront spending, but energy-saving projects have a fast ROI with continuous payback over time.

 

STEP 5: Set clear, specific goals.

Now that you have convinced your team that Energy Star Scores are important, and even the upfront investment will translate directly to savings, you need to set clear goals. Your goal should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented).

 

Specific. Decide what you want your Energy Star Score to be by the end of the year, how much you want to save on your utility bills, or how much you want to reduce your kWh.
 
Measurable. Set milestones throughout the year. Agree to benchmark the building every two months. Expect to be halfway to your goal in six months, and so on.

 

Achievable. Pick a goal you can actually reach. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised by your great success than disappointed by your failure to reach the goal.

 

Realistic. Plan projects that you will actually be able to finance and complete over the next twelve months.

 

Time-Oriented. Decide exactly when you want to reach your goal.
These details will help galvanize your team to show them what is really possible, and that you have a clear plan for achievement.

 

STEP 6: Prove you can be successful.

Your building won’t be the first to undergo an energy-saving project. Use a case study from a different building, such as Cassidy Turley’s building at 750 Pratt Street, showing how much can be saved with just a few changes. The Pratt Street building increased it’s Energy Star Score by 66 points and reduced consumption by 42% in only nine months. Most importantly, after the changes were made, the building had the highest tenant satisfaction score out of all of Cassidy Turley’s buildings.
After debuting another building’s success, paint a picture for your team so they can imagine the impact on their jobs, once changes have been made in your building. Consider recent problems your team has run into, and how those problems could be avoided if you completed an energy-saving project.

 

STEP 7: Draw an energy efficiency roadmap.

Hopefully, everyone in the room will be motivated at this point in your presentation. Now you need to provoke them to take action.
Be prepared to spell out your plan with step-by-step process your team will use to reach its goals. By showing your team a clear plan with a combination of easy, immediate fixes, and long-term, more involved changes, you can get them on board to help you reach your target. Make sure each individual feels vital and efficacious in the route to reaching the goals you set. The more they are able to picture the means to the end, the more likely they will be to join you.

If your team still isn’t convinced, use this guide, from the Maryland Energy Administration and Catalyst Financial Group, to overcome the most common challenges people run into when trying to begin energy efficiency projects.

Energy Efficiency, Energy Star, energy star score, Energy-Saving Projects

About The Author

When Samantha isn’t writing for the blog or managing our HR like a champ, she studies Organizational Psychology at George Washington University.