Green dreams

PUBLISHED: 16:32 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 May 2010

FOR all their daily woes – like poor pay and paltry pensions – it seems that the nation s workers still manage to find time to think beyond their own situation and care about bigger issues, like Mother Earth, for example. According to research just out fr

FOR all their daily woes - like poor pay and paltry pensions - it seems that the nation's workers still manage to find time to think beyond their own situation and care about bigger issues, like Mother Earth, for example.

According to research just out from the Carbon Trust, three quarters of UK employees are so concerned about the environment that they place great importance on working for a company that has an active policy to reduce the amount of carbon it pumps out.

Yet despite staff having the best will in the world and plenty of good intentions, guidance from employers is sadly lacking, with one in four respondents saying they feel their company doesn't do enough to cut its carbon emissions.

And less than a fifth of those quizzed said their company runs programmes to help employees be more energy efficient.

Dr Garry Felgate of the Carbon Trust said: "The majority of UK employees long to be more environmentally friendly at work, but many just don't know where to start. But it's in a company's best interests to help them, as adopting simple energy efficiency measures could save up to 10 per cent on those all important business energy bills.

"Our research shows that one in four workers doesn't switch off the lights in a room that is not being used, but nearly all (94 per cent) of them do so when they're at home," he continued.

"Simply by encouraging employees to bring their good energy habits into the workplace, businesses could reduce lighting bills by around 19 per cent a year, not to mention significantly lower their carbon emissions."

One man who certainly agrees with this philosophy is David Farebrother. His company, Land Securities, actively engages with its employees to encourage them to think about how they can reduce carbon emissions and save energy.

"Energy management at work is largely about developing good habits," he said.

"Since running our campaign we've found that energy usage is gradually falling at our head office, despite the fact that we're using more equipment, so it's clearly making a difference."

Another two businesses that have taken a lead in staff engagement on environmental issues are the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales and UK leisure company Center Parcs.

In co-operation with the Carbon Trust, the Celtic Manor Resort trained 200 key employees to understand the threat faced by climate change, as well as its impacts from a global, national, local and individual perspective.

The resort established a 'green team', made up of members from each department, to discuss environmental improvement issues and hold debates on how to be more environmentally friendly.

Spokesman Helen Turner said: "The training has proved to be a worthwhile programme, as we have noticed a dramatic change in our employees' approach to the way they use energy.

"For example, staff members in our leisure department have created a shut procedure, which ensures that all equipment and lighting is switched off each evening," she explained.

"They have also begun to monitor their energy consumption on an interactive site and report back to the green team on a monthly basis."

Center Parcs operates a similar team approach to actively encourage employees to reduce their energy usage.

Simon Drury, for Center Parcs, said: "Through harnessing the drive and enthusiasm of our staff, we have not only been able to improve our economic and environmental performance, but we have also developed a sense of pride and a desire to be involved across the whole business."

So thinking green has had an unexpectedly positive knock-on effect.

Dr Felgate concluded: "If we want to really make a difference in the fight against climate change, employees, and their employers, need to take action now to reduce energy use and cut carbon emissions in the workplace."

And as these forward-thinking businesses prove, making a difference is no pipe dream - it's a perfectly practical reality.

The Carbon Trust offers free advice and assistance to companies looking to establish positive energy campaigns in the workplace, and has a free employee pack, which offers advice on saving energy at little or no cost, available at www.the carbontrust.co.uk/energy or by calling 0800 085 2005.


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