Publication - Research and analysis

The Impact of Workplace Initiatives on Low Carbon Behaviours - Case Study Report

Published: 23 Mar 2012
ISBN:
9781780457574

This case study report is one output from a research project, commissioned jointly by the Scottish Government, Defra and the 2020 Climate Group, which investigates ‘what works’ in delivering low-carbon behavioural initiatives in the workplace. The report highlights the actions taken by 10 innovative employers.

116 page PDF

1.1 MB

116 page PDF

1.1 MB

Contents
The Impact of Workplace Initiatives on Low Carbon Behaviours - Case Study Report
4 COMMERCIAL GROUP

116 page PDF

1.1 MB

4 COMMERCIAL GROUP

Commercial Group is an interesting case study for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is an example of a company that has achieved a fairly radical environmental transformation in a short period of time. Commercial only began considering low carbon initiatives in 2006 but over the past five years has moved to a position where green issues are now at the core of their business. Normalised carbon emissions have fallen by around 75 per cent since 2006 and waste to landfill has reduced from nine tonnes a year to less than one.

Secondly, Commercial's green strategy puts a great deal of emphasis on staff involvement. The company uses a number of mechanisms to involve staff both in implementing green projects and generating ideas for new schemes. In particular, Commercial has experimented with a number of methods for maintaining enthusiasm and momentum in the initiatives. Staff surveys indicate a high level of engagement with the firm's carbon reduction programme.

Background

4.1 Commercial Group is an office supplies and procurement company, founded in 1991 and based on a site in Cheltenham. The company's founders remain on the board. It currently employs around 170 people and is in the process of expanding. Commercial's customers are primarily other businesses to whom it provides four main sets of services: Office supplies, office interiors, IT services and support, and printing.

Low Carbon Initiatives

History

4.2 Commercial's carbon reduction programme began in 2006 when the Sales Director (who is also one of the company's founders) attended a talk by Al Gore and a screening of 'An Inconvenient Truth'. The event was one at which clients and other key firms in their sector attended and was intended to have a networking purpose as well. Commercial had always prided itself on being a 'responsible' firm in how it operated, emphasising the quality of services it provides and ensuring staff were well looked after and rewarded. However, the talk alerted her to green issues as an area that a responsible company should be aware of:

'I walked in, quite happy, feeling great about the business. I thought we had a responsible business. We looked after our staff well. We didn't keep all the wealth to ourselves… and I came out of that talk, thinking, holy cow, we are not quite like I thought we were. We didn't do anything about the environment. We didn't recycle anything. It was one of those epiphany, stab through the heart moments. I came away from that [thinking] we've got a responsibility. We are a proud organisation… so we should be doing something. If we're not doing something we're not a responsible organisation' - Sales Director

4.3 Alongside the consideration of green issues as a moral imperative, the company was motivated to engage in low carbon activities due to potential business benefits. Given that the products the company sells (paper, printer cartridges etc.) and services they provide (particularly IT) are key sources of business waste and energy usage, it was anticipated that there would be increasing interest in reducing the environmental impact from both customers and regulators. Greening the business would potentially be a source of competitive advantage in the future.

4.4 Low-carbon activity has evolved over several stages. A small informal team was assembled to develop a plan and as part of this a member of staff with interest in green issues was seconded to act as an Environmental Strategist. They spoke to a number organisations involved in providing low-carbon advice and guidance. In addition to larger infrastructure and technical projects, the team was encouraged to look at smaller, more behaviour oriented projects. One team member suggested a bike to work scheme, another suggested introducing double sided printing and set up a system for filtering out junk faxes and a third member suggested replacing disposable paper cups with tumblers.

4.5 The plans were then launched more widely across the company and externally. Commercial ran a Corporate Social Responsibility day to advertise their success so far and their intentions to customers. The night before they held a film night showing 'An Inconvenient Truth' which was compulsory for all staff, and outlined their plans to staff. At this stage they had a number of small teams in which staff could get involved on waste management and carbon reduction, allowing staff to make suggestions to identify and deal with inefficiencies within the firm.

Low carbon projects

4.6 After a year and a half of small teams leading low carbon activities, the company found these had got somewhat stale and so they launched the Green Ambassadors scheme. This was an initiative to help employees reduce their carbon emissions (and by extension their fuel bills) at home. The scheme was voluntary and involved providing employees with advice and assistance to reduce their emissions and employees making commitments to undertake specific actions. The aim was for the actions to be as easy and achievable as possible and ranged from installing cavity wall insulation, to working from home or walking to the shops. Employees were asked to fill out questionnaires relating to their energy usage at the beginning and end of the scheme and scored on their environmental behaviour. Green Ambassadors had a community focus, encouraging staff to share the advice and support they received with people in their area. For example, one employee helped their neighbours get cavity wall insulation. The project lasted a year and ended with the most successful employees receiving prizes. After around a year it was felt the project had achieved its main objectives of helping employees reduce emissions and fuel bills and so they put the scheme on hold.

4.7 The current flagship scheme is the Green Angels project. Green Angels teams are groups of staff members selected every six months to undertake a project of their choosing which contributes to one of Commercial's social and environmental commitments. The purpose of having a constantly changing Green Angels team is to maintain enthusiasm and prevent the initiative from going stale. Projects have full backing from senior managers and board members but are entirely controlled by the employees on the team. Each team is made up of different members of staff. Two Green Angels teams had been run at the time of the case study, the first had focused on the commitment to reduce waste to landfill to zero. They expanded recycling in the company to include an additional two waste streams and took a number of steps to increase awareness of recycling. First they improved signage around recycling areas, secondly they ran a day which included workshops on recycling. The second focussed on a more social commitment - caring for others less fortunate than ourselves.

4.8 In addition since 2006 Commercial has made a number of investments in technology and infrastructure which also shape staff behaviours. Most notable is a biodiesel pump which is used primarily for the company's own fleet but is also available to staff for their own cars. Commercial help staff driving diesel cars to find information on the correct biodiesel blend required for their vehicle. This information is stored on the pump which employees can access using a key fob. The cost of bio-diesel for private use comes directly out of staff salaries. There is no large disparity in costs between bio-diesel from the Commercial pump and normal diesel. Depending on the fluctuation of forecourt fuel prices, the bio-diesel can be either slightly cheaper or slightly more expensive. Other examples of material measures include a covered bike rack, lighting which responds to external light levels and movement and multiple recycling stations.

4.9 Commercial has a bike to work scheme through which employees can receive a loan towards the cost of a new bike. Employees can request money towards a bike and assorted equipment (for example lights, helmets and bike locks) which they then pay back from their pre-tax pay over twelve months. To facilitate cycling, Commercial constructed a bike shelter on their premises and there are also shower facilities available.

4.10 On a more day-to-day basis Commercial attempt to reduce waste to landfill by recycling extensively and re-using packaging wherever possible. They have made it policy only to use new packaging where this is specifically requested by a customer. Commercial currently has a recycling rate of 99 per cent for paper, wood and metal and a packaging reuse rate of 95 per cent.

4.11 Additionally staff are encouraged to use public transport wherever possible to attend meetings. It is company policy that staff should use public transport where this is a practical option, although the policy change followed widespread voluntary uptake of public transport amongst staff.

Process of implementation

Building staff awareness

4.12 The use of set-piece events, special days and project launches has been important. There is a particular emphasis on making these kinds of events as enjoyable and involving as possible. The staff screening of 'An Inconvenient Truth' helped launch the low-carbon programme within the organisation. This had an important impact, not necessarily due to the message of the film but because the event itself made staff realise that the company was now intent on taking green issues seriously. By holding a high profile all-staff event Commercial immediately raised the prominence of environmental concerns in the workplace.

'It's when we had the screening as a company of The Inconvenient Truth... It was one of those things where we were all told, we want you to come to this; you have to come to this. And we'd all been, oh, what's this, and I'm not really interested; got there, watched the film, and I know that impacted everybody' - Employee

4.13 There is a strong emphasis on communicating messages in ways that are fun. The recycling activity undertaken by the first Green Angels team was as much about making staff aware of what needed to be done in relation to recycling as anything else. The team developed a number of ways to communicate the recycling message, for example through improved signage and a recycling game. The game was a relay race which involved splitting employees into teams each with a pile of rubbish. The teams had to place items of rubbish in the correct recycling bin as quickly as possible. The winning team was the one that recycled the most items correctly in as short a time as possible. Employees were extremely enthusiastic about the game which appeared to make a big impact on their willingness to recycle.

4.14 Similar methods were employed when promoting cycle to work schemes:

'When we were launching the Cycle to Work Scheme everyone came in, it was a bit of a laugh, we had some bikes and we tried some of these electric bikes, riding up and down. And we engaged everybody on a playful level; it's not too serious, it's not just sitting there being lectured to' - Employee

4.15 Additionally word of mouth appears to be important. In particular there was no large scale launch of the Green Ambassadors scheme, just an e-mail inviting staff to participate and emphasising that the scheme would help them reduce fuel bills. The rationale for this was that because the scheme was about changing behaviour outside of work, the company did not want staff to feel they were being pressured into taking part. Most of the advertising for the scheme came from early participants being encouraged to share their experiences with colleagues, which raised participation from around 38 per cent of staff up to around 60 per cent by the time the scheme was closed. A similar approach was used in a recent effort to encourage increased uptake of the bike to work scheme; those on the scheme were asked to talk to their colleagues about cycling to work and what they could get from the scheme. This kind of peer-to-peer communication appears to be very effective.

4.16 Given that Commercial is currently growing, introducing new staff members to the various schemes is important. New recruits receive an introduction to green activity in the workplace as part of their induction. This includes an introduction to what staff need to do e.g. relating to recycling, as well an explanation of the green ethos and values at Commercial.

Staff responses

4.17 Generally staff were very positive about the green initiatives. Moreover staff engagement in the Commercial carbon reduction programme is high. A staff survey in 2010 found that over three-quarters of staff felt 'totally engaged' with the programme with the remainder feeling either very or slightly engaged. In particular they commented on the enjoyment they got from participating in Green Angels teams and in the activities that were organised by the Green Angels. Employees felt that the Green Angels scheme was conducive to a good organisational culture, making working more enjoyable and strengthening relationships between staff. The quotation below illustrates that success in building anticipation and a sense of excitement about initiatives through making them enjoyable, can build staff engagement.

'[Does the scheme make work more enjoyable?] Yes, definitely. There's always that little bit of, oh, what are the Green Angels doing now? And I'm actually working very closely in location to two of the girls who are in the current team, and I'm always trying to listen in to what they're doing, just to find out, because you know it's going to be a really fun day'- Employee

4.18 Among staff interviewees there was a particularly high level of enthusiasm for Green Angels, which appears to be because it is more or less exclusively staff-owned. As such it is a crucial part of engaging staff with the carbon reduction programme and maintaining staff interest in low-carbon activities alongside any effects of the individual projects.

4.19 Along with the fun element, a number of employees were enthusiastic about the fact that the schemes allowed them to 'make a difference':

'Green Angels serves a great purpose for team camaraderie..but it is also good because of what it stands for' - Employee

4.20 However, there was a difference between managers and employees regarding attitudes to climate change. A concern about climate change was one of the key reasons for senior managers instigating low-carbon activities. However, many of the staff interviewed, while not indifferent to climate change, did not see it as a reason to get involved in green activities in the workplace:

'I think climate change is relevant but it's so big, how relevant is it to me at the moment? I think bringing it in locally… is the relevant part to it… I'd like to make a difference somewhere else but the key thing is what I do here' - Employee

Key challenges

4.21 The main challenges identified in the interviews tended to be practical problems and waning enthusiasm for projects which had reached maturity.

4.22 One of the key practical problems identified by staff was a lack of time. Employees felt that non-involvement of some staff could be put down to people who were busy with high workloads.

'There's always going to be people that get more involved and people that get less involved. I don't think that you can affect everybody equally; I think it depends on how busy people are and how much they take in, really… Family commitments, things like that, make a difference. But the majority of people do get involved' - Employee

4.23 Commercial has made efforts to ensure that staff have the time to participate in projects, however. In particular staff are given time away from their normal activities to work on Green Angel related projects. This appears to reduce but not eliminate the problem.

4.24 The Cycle to Work scheme appeared to face particular challenges. Again, for the most part reasons for not cycling to work were practical reasons such as living too far away or personal circumstances:

'I find myself making an excuse not to ride, to still get in my car because I've still got to take the kids to school'- Employee

4.25 There appears to be a limited amount that Commercial can do on these issues. The provision of cycling equipment through the scheme removed the 'excuse' of not having a suitable bike but the weather, personal circumstances and distance from work are predominantly out of the company's control.

4.26 Additionally staff reported a lack of promotion of the scheme meaning that some of the initial enthusiasm had dissipated, and lower numbers of people cycling to work were partially the result of a lack of awareness of the scheme. In recognition of this, managers had been making some recent efforts to draw greater attention to the project and this appeared to be making some difference:

'There was a bit of a push on it, because it had gone a little bit quiet recently. Aiden had a bit of a push a couple of months ago, and I know that there are a few people that got involved again and bought bikes, people that would drive normally'- Employee

Despite these issues, in good weather around 45 to 50 members of staff (out of the total of around 170) cycle to work.

4.27 The waning of enthusiasm for schemes and the consequent reduction in their effectiveness was discussed in relation to other activities by senior management, in particular the original carbon committees:

'[The first green committees] started to lose their lustre. It became a bit more a committee, and people were coming in and it was a bit of a whinge, and we didn't want it to be a bit of a whinge' - Director

4.28 As noted above, the company has responded to this challenge by regularly starting new initiatives, as well as re-launching old schemes in an effort to keep low-carbon activity as fresh as possible. Moreover the Green Angels initiative is specifically designed to maintain freshness and enthusiasm. By focusing on relatively short projects and regularly changing team members it is hoped the initiative will not simply become 'just another committee'.

Evidence of impact

4.29 Overall, Commercial has had considerable success in reducing its environmental impact. For example it has reduced its waste to landfill from nine tonnes in 2006 to less than one tonne in 2010 and the company's overall carbon emissions have reduced from 63.42 kg CO2 per million pounds in revenue to 16.02 kg CO2 in 2010. Recycling rates for paper, wood and metal are at 99 per cent and the reuse rate for packaging and cardboard is 95 per cent. However within these headline figures it is difficult to identify the particular contribution of staff initiatives over infrastructure initiatives.

4.30 There have been evaluations of particular schemes, in particular the Green Ambassadors in which participants were given a low carbon score based on their answers to a questionnaire. The questionnaire was administered at the start of the scheme and while participants were on the scheme. After six months, the average score rose from 46 to 56. On average those on the Green Ambassadors programme reduced their electricity consumption by 16 per cent and their gas consumption by 27 per cent. Additionally the scheme had a wider community impact, for example in stimulating behaviour change among neighbours in the wider domestic community. Overall the scheme was estimated to have saved 500 tonnes of carbon.

4.31 The bike to work scheme, as noted above, is highly sensitive to changes in weather. Nonetheless, in good weather around 45-50 staff have cycled to work this year and a recent commuting survey found that 18 per cent of staff regularly cycle to work. Additionally a number of interviewees commented that receiving money to purchase cycle equipment made them considerably more likely to cycle in than they otherwise would have been.

4.32 The impact of Green Angels activity is harder to quantify. The first Green Angels team added two new waste streams to recycling, which helped reduce waste to landfill but does not clearly show up in the waste to landfill data over and above other actions taken by Commercial. The impact of the Green Angels came out more clearly in staff interviews. Following the first Green Angels day, which focused on recycling, staff felt much more aware and knowledgeable about recycling within Commercial which led directly to behaviour change.

'because the guys made it so informative, and they made the game... it was such a fun element that now, I recycle, I put stuff where it should go, without even having to think about it. It's stuck in your mind and you know that you recycle' - Employee

4.33 One employee admitted that prior to the Green Angels day she had not been particularly aware of the existence of some recycling bins, but following the Green Angels day she now recycled regularly. Similarly recent recruits felt their behaviour had changed since joining the company.

4.34 There was also evidence of changes in staff attitudes outside work. For example a recent recruit who discussed the biodiesel pump said he was considering buying a diesel car when he replaced his current vehicle:

'I wasn't necessarily frowned upon for driving a petrol car, but …There was an element of encouragement… to use biodiesel. You can see, evidently, from the tank outside that it's something as a company we take very seriously. I think from my perspective, I've taken on board a gentle bit of encouragement and perhaps upon my next purchase I could benefit from that' - Employee

4.35 Similarly in relation to recycling, even employees who had recycled in the past felt they had extended their level of recycling:

'It's almost as if the enthusiasm of what's going on at work then transcends into your home life, and what isn't difficult here, you go that extra bit further at home which is quite interesting' - Employee

Critical success factors

4.36 Critical success factors identified from analysis of the case study findings are:

Making green activity normal and habitual

4.37 One of the most striking aspects of Commercial is the extent to which, low-carbon activity is a normal part of day-to-day life. Managers pointed out that it is important for low-carbon activity to not feel 'special' or unusual in anyway, rather the aim is to imbed this activity into the day-to-day working lives of staff. These norms make low carbon activity routine and help maintain low carbon activity. The role of these norms in shaping behaviour was acknowledged by staff.

4.38 The interesting question is, therefore, how Commercial went from being a company which did very little in terms of low-carbon activity to one in which it is a central part of daily life.

Leadership

4.39 Undoubtedly one of the most important factors in the changes introduced by Commercial has been the strong and determined leadership at board level. Simply looking at the chronology of low carbon activities at Commercial demonstrates the central role that this leadership played in instigating low-carbon activity; in particular the early momentum came from a decision at board level to begin taking environmental sustainability issues seriously. More than this, however, leadership was identified as important in shaping values:

'It's leadership as in this is who we are, this is our brand, this is where we're going, this is our plan, and we are going to execute this plan, so come on team, let's march' - Director

4.40 The support for low-carbon activities at board level filtered down to employees, who understood they had the backing of those at the top of the company when they were engaged in low carbon activities. The support made staff feel that any suggestions they had on low carbon activity would be taken seriously by senior managers:

4.41 However, the emphasis was on leadership that enabled staff to participate rather than 'dictating' green behaviours to staff, this is central to the design of the Green Angels project.

'[Green Angels is] not being led by director level. Initially, yes, it was but it's then fed down to every Tom, Dick and Harry really, and I think that's the important part - it's the fact that it's not being just beaten into you with a stick from up above to say, look, you will do this' - Employee

Big events

4.42 The role of big events in shaping norms was noted by managers. High impact events involving large numbers of staff have been used frequently by Commercial to launch projects. While these events do not necessarily have a direct effect on reducing carbon, they help 'set the agenda' for the company by raising the salience of green issues and also to generate momentum for the project. For example although staff were shown 'An Inconvenient Truth' at the start of the low-carbon initiatives, the aim was to run a high impact event that would clearly state Commercial's commitment to 'going green' as well as 'convert' people to the climate change cause. Rather than targeting individual beliefs the screening is arguably better understood as an attempt to shift the organisation's culture.

4.43 Large scale events were important in launching the carbon reduction programme to the workforce as a whole, however it should be noted that by the time of the launch, small scale initiatives had already got underway. Managers emphasised the importance of 'getting going' with green initiatives as soon as possible, even on a small scale. Events could then be used to widen the group of people involved.

Staff involvement

4.44 Staff involvement was identified as a crucial element of Commercial's carbon reduction programme. The main impetus for starting the Green Angels project had two elements, generating staff support for the green initiatives and making use of staff knowledge and abilities to advance the scheme. Managers generally felt that involving staff helped increase support by making green activities something staff could control and contribute to rather than being forced on them. Among staff interviewees, there was a great deal of enthusiasm for the Green Angels project and of particular importance is the involvement of key or popular members of staff. Involvement of these kinds of people helped spread initiatives at a peer-to-peer level, this was used to considerable effect in increasing uptake to the cycle to work scheme. Furthermore the involvement of staff has expanded some projects, for example bringing two additional waste streams into recycling as part of the Green Angels project. Employees pointed out that the open and friendly culture at Commercial which existed prior to the low carbon initiatives this helped contribute to the initiative's success.

4.45 It is also important that staff receive time off to participate in green activities. Employees particularly emphasised that being given time off from duties to be able to participate in green initiatives was very important.

4.46 Staff involvement is also becoming easier thanks to Commercial's growing reputation as a low-carbon organisation. The director commented that increasingly applicants were choosing to apply for a job at Commercial because of the company's commitment to green issues. Although there is obviously no policy to only recruit people with strong environmental beliefs, there appears to be a trend in new staff coming to the company with an awareness and interest in low carbon activity.

Information

4.47 Provision of information, advice and guidance about green activities was seen as important by both staff and managers. Some projects, such as Green Ambassadors, were almost entirely based on the provision of information and advice on how to reduce carbon emissions. Similarly the first Green Angels team focused on how to best communicate information about recycling to the workforce.

4.48 Commercial have used a range of methods to communicate information, such as seminars run internally or featuring an external speaker, information packs and online content. However, as noted above, managers tended to prefer encouraging peer-to-peer communication wherever possible.

4.49 Additionally, from the point of view of staff involvement, providing staff with information on progress towards targets was also cited as important. By doing this it was felt that targets become collective objective for which all staff are responsible rather than a management objective. When targets are reached, this becomes a success for the whole company.

Fun

4.50 Across all Commercial's green activities there is an emphasis on making activities as fun and as enjoyable as possible.

4.51 For staff in particular, the most important incentive - more so than any financial reward - was that the activities were fun and enjoyable to participate in. The Green Angels, in particular, aim to make their projects enjoyable. The best example of this is the recycling day organised by the first Green Angels team, rather than communicating information about recycling through lectures or information sheets the Green Angels ran the recycling game to help people remember what and how to recycle.

4.52 Additionally the Green Angels teams are designed to ensure they stay fresh and interesting. By having a constantly changing membership with small teams working on a project for a set amount of times it is hoped that Green Angels teams would not become stale in the way a team with fixed membership might.

Infrastructure and equipment

4.53 Material factors are also important and staff in particular emphasised that without recycling bins or the cycling equipment provided through the bike to work scheme, behavioural outcomes would have been quite different. In particular it was emphasised that the facilities available made it 'easy' to get involved.

4.54 Furthermore, it is important that facilities that are required to enable behaviour change need to be in place fairly early on in the process so that, for example, staff are able to recycle or have somewhere to put their bike at work. Failure to have facilities in place can cause a project to stall.

4.55 Aside from this, there is a strong symbolic effect of low-carbon infrastructure which feeds back into the social and cultural. The biodiesel pump on the forecourt, the multiple recycling bins, the lighting systems along with the boards throughout the premises reporting progress on waste, carbon emissions and so on contribute to a green 'ambience' throughout Commercial. They add to the sense that low carbon activity is both a core part of the company's identity and that low carbon behaviour is the norm.

Incentives

4.56 There were mixed views about the role of incentives, particularly financial incentives. Senior managers expressed concern that financial incentives could be divisive. In particular it was felt that the personal circumstances of some members of staff might prevent them from taking part in activities and exclude them from rewards. For example members of staff with children might need a car for the school run and cycling in to work would not be practical.

4.57 There were some incentives available to staff, for example a half day holiday and shopping vouchers for Green Angels participants but this did not seem to be a major reason for employees participating:

'We were given a little reward at the end, we were given a half day holiday, we had some vouchers - but I didn't know anything about that, so I got involved purely because I thought that it was a really good thing to be doing' - Employee

4.58 Senior managers felt providing recognition was more important than incentives, the rewards for Green Angels participants were framed more in terms of recognising a contribution than incentivising participation.

Policies

4.59 Both staff and managers broadly agreed that coercive policies to encourage behaviour change were not particularly effective. The major concern was that being too coercive would risk 'getting people's backs up' and alienating them, making low carbon activities something they did grudgingly rather than voluntarily. Although Commercial have made some use of policy changes, for example on public transport and reuse of materials, the emphasis is on bottom-up changes leading to new rules rather than on top-down measures. For example, the policy change on public transport came about because a large number of staff were already voluntarily choosing to use public transport for meetings, largely because a senior member of the sales team had already begun to use public transport more often and was encouraging other staff to do the same.

Future plans

4.60 Currently Commercial has a number of planned extensions to the initiatives. These include encouraging other organisations to take up the Green Angels model, providing information about the benefits of the scheme and advice on setting it up to interested businesses. Both staff and directors will be involved in this initiative.

4.61 Internally they discussed plans to try and integrate green initiatives into the company's HR system to ensure low-carbon behaviour is recognised:

'We've got a performance management system now, so we've been doing a lot in HR, and the final part of jigsaw will be like a scoring system, and within that there will probably be a part on the environment that means that you can then get rewarded' - Director

Beyond this the focus is on monitoring the current initiatives and refining systems to ensure they work as effectively as possible.

Key learning points

  • Taking a first step is important. Starting small scale activity as quickly as possible rather than spending time preparing to start activities can be helpful. Small scale projects help generate early momentum, even if they do not necessarily have a major impact on carbon emissions or involve large numbers of people.
  • Leadership commitment has helped get the projects off the ground and still ensure momentum even as the pool of people involved has widened. Credible commitment at the top of the organisation has meant that staff at all levels have taken on board the message that low carbon behaviour is important.
  • Staff involvement and engagement in the carbon reduction programme through team-based approaches to activities can generate a sense of enthusiasm and commitment among participants as well as acting as a method of peer to peer communication.
  • Successful engagement of staff is at least partially reliant on making green activities enjoyable to participate in. Some staff may initially be keen to be involved as much because they enjoyed the activities as from desires to 'save the planet'.
  • Maintaining enthusiasm has been a particular source of concern for Commercial and there appeared to be a widespread fear that engagement in green activities could become dull. The Green Angels model of a green team with regularly changing membership working on a specific project of their choosing is a particularly interesting approach to this problem.
  • Big picture issues, such as climate change, are not universal motivations for participating in low carbon projects. For many interviewees the focus was on what could be achieved at a local level.
  • Infrastructure and equipment can play a dual role by both facilitating green activity and acting as symbols contributing to a low-carbon culture. Equipment such as recycling bins and the biodiesel pump obviously enable staff to undertake low carbon behaviour that would otherwise be impossible but they also serve as very visual reminders of Commercial's commitment to low carbon activity.

Contact

Email: Jonathan Waite