incentive programs to reduce carbon emissions

  • dale irwin

  • NA
  • melbourne



i was wondering if you could suggest where I might be able to find information on how to incentivise people within an organisation to reduce energy consumption ie a rewards systems to encourage energy saving beahviour..the business is an architecture firm



Dale Irwin



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Hi Dale, Thanks for your question. The best online resource is It details how to initiate a holistic employee programs.

There is little information available that discusses incentivising staff on energy efficiency. I’ve put together a list of business energy efficiency staff incentive programs that VECCI Sustainability knows of. Our advice would be to focus on programs that reduce computer and printing usage as we’d image that these would offer the greatest scope for energy reduction in an Architecture Firm.

Generally speaking, incentivising staff can be done at both the Macro level and the Micro level. However, it’s important that behaviour change is ingrained into the business culture and therefore needs to come from the top level of management.

Start with a survey:

To begin with, writing and undertaking an employee survey that focuses exclusively on Sustainability will give you an understanding of employee perceptions. As the first step in establishing a sustainability program it’s important to consult and engage with your staff straight away. Ask them to provide ideas and feedback for possible sustainability solutions. Also, engage with your staff on what incentives they want; sometimes they don’t want vouchers and chocolate!

Establish a ‘green team’:

The following step would be to establish an ‘energy efficiency team’ or ‘green team’. This ‘green team’ should represent a cross section of the workplace as established by the survey, it’s important to engage with those that are indifferent on energy efficiency. The main objective of the ‘green team’ should be to establish strategies and programs, either at the Macro or Micro level, that seek to achieve the target set by senior management. Once the ‘green team’ has proposed the programs and incentives, management can approve them.

Examples of programs, Macro Level:

Key Performance Indicators:

From a ‘top-down’ approach, the ‘green team’ can establish individual resource reduction targets inline with the company’s resource reduction goal. The individual targets are built into KPI’s and form part of performance reviews.

Examples of programs, Micro Level:

Office Signage:

Signage around the building above light switches, power points, photocopiers/printers and computers advocate effectively how simple change in behaviour, such as switching off computer monitors during a lunch break and meeting. Encouraging the use of  hand dryers in bathrooms rather than paper towel is another positive behaviour change that reduces resource usage. Examples of office sign can be found on our website;

Reducing paper usage:

Reducing paper usage saves money and resources. Implementing a system that monitors the amount of printing each staff member does and establishing incentives to reduce printing is a good way to change printing behaviour. Perhaps generate friendly competition between departments and teams over who can reduce paper usage the most.

Turning off computers:

Incentivising staff to turn off computers before going home is an effective, no cost, way to reduce energy usage. Incentives may be as simple as placing a Fredo Frog on desk as a reward for those that switch off their computers after hours.

Maintaining the message:

Updating staff on their energy reduction achievements through meetings and emails is important. Provide time at a staff meeting or circulate through an email the achievements. To sustain enthusiasm for the project, send them interactive emails like a word-search, cross word or funny pictures. 

Taking the message beyond work: Free Energy Efficient Light Bulbs and Water Saving Shower Heads for Staff:

Another successful program is extending your business sustainability program beyond just the business premises. Free exchange programs for CFL light bulbs and water saving shower heads can be delivered to staff to take home at no cost to them or you. It gives the team a tangible benefit in reduced bills and it also reinforces the behaviour change message.

Free compost, generated at work!

Waste in an area that is entirely behaviourally based. It costs businesses money get waste removed, and recycling and organic composting is cheaper to remove than landfill.  An incentive that encourages staff waste behaviour change is to provide separate bins in staff areas; landfill, recycling and organic bins. With the accumulated organic waste, process it into compost and return it to staff to take home. This encourages staff to separate organic waste from landfill and provides tangible benefit for doing so.

Grow Me The Money can help you scope these objectives, please see for further information.

Hope this helps,


Added: 5 Dec 2011
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