Recap of GreenBiz’s VERGE Conference

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at VERGE: Where Technology Meets Sustainability on a panel with Zeke Hart from PwC and Fielder Hiss, VP of product management and marketing for EnerNOC. The theme was Emerging Practices for Transforming Your Organization’s Energy Management Approach. The focus of the breakout was a deep dive into a framework for evaluating the maturity of a company’s approach to energy management. The framework came out of research by a number of leading companies, including WeSpire, and was recently published in the Harvard Business Review.

WeSpire’s expertise is very much aligned to the fourth Pillar, titled Promote.” The main points of this pillar are to encourage organizations to:

  • Empower and motivate your workforce to contribute to your energy strategy and goals
  • Communicate energy and carbon commitments, accomplishments and your positive values as an organization to drive intangible value
  • Point to your energy and carbon successes as an indicator of superior management

Energy is but one part of a broader sustainability strategy, but it can represent a key opportunity for companies to engage employees. First, employees can often be the eyes and ears for where energy is being wasted and provide innovative ideas for energy conservation. We’ve seen this done through Vampire Energy Hunts, a month long efficiency challenge to change behavior like lighting usage or plug load, or programs that suggest ideas on what employees can do save energy. Companies can often inspire people to learn, act and share new conservation oriented habits and behaviors through programming.

The logical reasoning for this behavior is efficiency and cost savings, but recent WeSpire research suggests that the biggest benefit for companies may be improved brand reputation. In our recent survey, 83 percent of employees whose companies had sustainability programs said they thought their company was a force for good in the world. Only 66 percent of employees at companies who didn’t have a sustainability strategy felt the same way. To the extent employees are a company’s strongest brand ambassadors, sustainability programs provide a tangible example for them to share with customers and members of the community.

Take a look at the chart below. Where is your company on the continuum? Are you just getting started with basic KPIs and champions? Or do you have ambitious, time-based and science-based goals? Are you celebrating and sharing success? If yes, we’d love to hear about them.