Going Green From the Inside Out
Our world now faces two particularly important trends: rising fossil fuel prices and climate change concerns. Both create strong incentives for energy conservation and are fueling interest in energy conservation solutions. We have so far only seen the beginning of the global focus on these areas.
TAC, a Schneider Electric Company and provider of open, integrated systems for building automation, aims to deliver energy services to our customers in ways that will reduce energy consumption -- which helps the planet -- and lower energy expenses to help the customer’s bottom line. But to be a global leader in energy management, we must first have an energy culture within TAC.
TAC is working on a number of initiatives right now to create that energy culture:
- Educating our employees about energy and global warming impacts through an Energy Awareness Program
- Continually bringing new and innovative green ideas to the executive staff
- Developing an energy management plan for our own facilities to demonstrate our green approach to business
- Developing standardized emissions reduction accounting systems to track carbon reduction for our customers and in our own offices
TAC created the Green Team to achieve these objectives. It must also develop metrics to quantify and improve environmental and social stewardship, create a Green Office Guide, investigate and quantify carbon offsets and renewable power purchases, coordinate Earth Day information, and publish the internal Think Green Newsletter.
A cornerstone of the TAC Green Program is to first educate our employees on the growing demand for energy across the globe and issues associated with meeting this demand, such as global warming, limited resources and pollution. It is also important that every employee, from sales to operations to administration, understands basic energy concepts and potential energy conservation measures offered by TAC and Schneider to decrease energy use.
To meet this goal, TAC launched the Energy Awareness Program, an ambitious, six-month green initiative to train 5,000 employees worldwide.
"Through this Energy Awareness Program, every employee in TAC will learn more about the energy business, how the energy business impacts our planet and our lives, and what TAC can do to save our customers money and energy while having a positive impact on the planet," according to Arne Frank, TAC's CEO.
During the three-hour, instructor-led session, TAC energy experts around the world deliver a 60-slide presentation while employees follow along in a participant booklet. The course helps employees calculate their personal carbon footprint and the amount of energy and pollution reduced by using compact fluorescent light bulbs.
The booklets were printed on recycled paper; additional resources are available to employees via TAC’s intranet. Employees walk away from the course with an understanding of how he/she impacts the environment and the energy services TAC offers to help customers operate buildings in ways that are more sustainable. The training will be followed up with discussions in monthly staff meetings to continually brainstorm green ideas for TAC and our customers.
It was a challenge to execute a global training program in the 80 countries in which TAC has a presence. It also was important to deliver the program with minimal environmental impact. Subject matter experts in each country received all training materials and resource manual electronically. More than 80 trainers worldwide attended Web-based sessions to learn how to deliver the course.
To localize the content, trainers were instructed to add local statistics, information and customer case studies but leave the core content intact to ensure delivery of a single, consistent message. To date, more than 2,700 employees have attended the course, representing approximately 63 percent of TAC employee base. The program will wrap up in late September.
Employees have called the Energy Awareness course highly relevant to their daily lives and to TAC’s goal of helping customers make the most of their energy. We have seen the biggest impact on how employees use energy both in the office and at home. Employees are switching to compact fluorescents that use less energy and last longer. They turn off lights in offices and conference rooms not in use. At the Americas headquarters in Dallas, Texas, more hybrid cars fill the dedicated priority hybrid parking spaces, which was one innovative idea brought to the executive staff.
TAC has received huge benefits from this unique program. It fulfills our priority of investing in employee development, and has generated excitement among employees for TAC‘s energy services mission. Employees are motivated to be more engaged in the business and better informed to discuss what TAC can do to help customers conserve energy and save money.
I encourage other companies to pursue training of this kind. Not only will they be investing wisely in employee development, but they will engender a sense of community and accountability among employees who commit to the larger goal of minimizing our collective impact on the environment. Programs like these can also spur a change in employee behavior, which can lead to a 5 percent to 10 percent drop in energy use.
Brandi McManus is the global business development manager and energy services manager at TAC. Over the past nine years, she has worked at TAC to ensure efficient sales operations through strategic planning and proactive leadership with a focus on training and development of personnel. She is highly skilled in both domestic and international product development and improvements, as well as process creation and implementation.