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Bedford - United Kingdom

Energy Champions encourage behavioural change


Bedford Borough Council wanted to tackle the high baseload energy consumption in their administrative office building during weekends and nights. To achieve this goal they embarked on a programme to encourage energy efficiency by using a team of ‘Energy Champions’ to spread the word on energy efficiency and encourage behavioural change.

Building details

Type of building : Administrative office building
Year of construction/ Floor area/ Operating hours : 1960s / 6803m2 / Mon – Fri 7.30am – 6.30pm, Sat 8.30am – 1.30pm, Sun closed.
Heating and cooling / measures installed Gas boiler central heating with convector units in each office. Individual air conditioning units in a few locations.
Energy/CO2/Water label (before and after improvements if possible) Before : Energy–G / CO2–F / Water–F

After : Not yet possible to calculate.


Aim To reduce the after-hours baseload electricity consumption of the office building through behavioural change.
Key points A group of Energy Champions was established within the organisation, comprised of a staff member from each department. The group meets on a quarterly basis to devise ways to encourage energy saving behaviour among staff.

_ The Champions’ first task was to place posters and reminder stickers in all departments to raise awareness of turning off electrical equipment to save energy.


_ Following this, the group staged a week-long campaign in May 2006 to give a focused boost to encouraging behavioural change.

_ The campaign consisted of daily emails to staff giving energy efficiency facts and information, daily audits of electrical equipment to record what had been left on and placing reminder stickers on those pieces of equipment. Feedback was provided to staff in the form of departmental performance highlighting good or poor results. A prize was awarded to the department that showed the greatest improvement.

_ Assessment of the audit information taken during the week showed improvement over time with less equipment being left on overnight. Data was also taken via the remote metering system installed in the building, which showed a 10-15% decrease in electricity consumption.

_ The Energy Champions’ work has been maintained with further awareness raising activities and campaigns, including a competition for staff using an energy quiz and random auditing of equipment in offices with feedback to all staff on the results.
Reason for inclusion as Shining Example The use of Energy Champions to encourage behavioural change has been a very successful project that has required no capital investment but could potentially save £4680 per year on the Council’s energy bill, with consequent environmental benefits from the reduction in CO2 emissions.

_ These significant energy savings were achieved using simple techniques to encourage behavioural change. The group of Energy Champions provided a driving force for the project. The Champions were able to support each other and work together to raise awareness of, and encourage energy conservation by staff. By conducting audits on equipment, the Champions were able to provide reinforcing feedback to all staff. This was coupled with incentives such as prizes, to elicit behavioural change. Energy saving behaviour was further reinforced by ongoing awareness raising activities such as quizzes and feedback on random audits of equipment.

_ The applicability of this project is wide-ranging because it involves the use of simple techniques with no capital expenditure.


Costs & funding No additional funding was required for this project. Staff time is the main resource needed.
Benefits There was a 10-15% decrease in electrical energy consumption during the week of the May 2006 campaign. This resulted in savings that week of approximately £90 and 15,000 kWh of energy, with an associated reduction in CO2 emissions of 6 tonnes. This equates to an annual saving of around £4680, 780,000kWh of energy and 335 tonnes of CO2.


Partnership details Council staff were the only active individuals in this project. However, resources provided by the Carbon Trust (e.g. stickers and posters) and the use of intelligent meter monitoring software provided by TEAM, were essential to the success of the project.

_ The Carbon Trust is an independent company funded by the UK Government, who works with UK business and the public sector to cut carbon emissions and develop commercial low carbon technologies. TEAM is the largest supplier of ‘monitoring and targeting’ software in the UK. Such software is used to collect, interpret and report information on utility use.


Achievements Essential factors for success of Energy Champions
- Secure high level support to ensure staff realise that the scheme is serious and requires their attention.
- Nominate a key individual to lead the group, organise action and maintain momentum.
- Include a representative from every department in the group to ensure that all staff are involved.

_ Monitoring and evaluation

_ It is not essential to have a remote metering system in order to undertake this scheme, but additional work will be required for the monitoring element if this is not in place. An individual will be required to take meter readings before, during and after campaigns, to monitor overnight use and evaluate whether or not energy consumption is reduced. Monitoring can be limited to auditing of what equipment is left on, but this will be less accurate in terms of consumption reduction and associated fuel costs.
Lessons Learned - Even if the Energy Champions are volunteers, it must be made clear that this new role will not interfere significantly with their current workload. This is also why high level support is essential as this will ensure that line managers agree with the need for a member of their team to take on this role.
- The key challenge once the scheme is initially established is to maintain momentum and enthusiasm for the scheme so that the Energy Champions do not become disheartened and de-motivated.

To know more



Bedford Borough Council
Contact Abigail Basketter
Phone +44 (0) 1234 227364

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