Jane Lomas, workplace improvement manager at E.On: Everyone can play their part in going green

In an increasingly environmentally-conscious world, making a business greener and reducing the size of its carbon footprint is more important than ever. What many organisations fail to take into account is the key role employees can, and should, have in moving towards this goal. Green initiatives can engage and motivate staff as well as saving energy and money for the business. It is important to involve employees, and this can be done by improving access to advice about energy-saving measures. Whether it is through a noticeboard or an online toolkit, it is important to involve everyone. Consider identifying environmental champions or energy marshals within the organisation to help motivate and educate colleagues.

It is also a good idea to reward employees who go the extra mile to help. At E.On, for example, we have been running a “saint or sinner” campaign. Staff who leave their computer turned on while away from their desk are given sinner stickers, and those who switch them off are given saint stickers. It is a really simple idea, but it works because our employees realise they can make a real difference. Such an initiative can also result in huge cost savings for the business.

Employers should also consider energy-efficient choices. Changing old light bulbs for energy-saving versions can pay real dividends in terms of saving energy and money over time. Providing recycling centres and removing bins under desks is also a good way to encourage everybody to do their bit.

Employees should be made aware they will be more alert and work more effectively in a cooler environment. Aim for the workplace temperature to vary between 18∞C in winter and 20∞C in summer because a 1∞C difference in heating and cooling can increase energy consumption by 10%.

And green initiatives needn’t stop inside the office. E.On has just implemented one of the UK’s largest travel schemes as part of efforts to help employees reduce their own carbon footprint. It is a good idea to offer rewards for participating in such schemes. At some of its sites, E.On gives staff points for each day they car-share or use alternative transport. Employees can spend the points in the staff restaurant or use them to claim high-street or leisure activity vouchers.