Johnson Controls Brings Its 'Efficiency Now' Campaign to YouTube

Johnson Controls Brings Its 'Efficiency Now' Campaign to YouTube

The word sustainability is a lot like a Rorschach inkblot, says Clay Nesler, the vice president for Global Energy and Sustainability for Johnson Controls' Building Efficiency business.

Everybody sees something different and it's often tough to say exactly what that is.

The important thing, Nesler says, is not to struggle with a definition but to start a conversation, which is much easier and can be fun.

That's what Johnson Controls had in mind when it took a cue from late night TV talk shows and sent a video crew to Chicago to conduct "man-on-the-street" interviews about sustainability and energy efficiency.

The result is "What the heck is Sustainability???" -- a two-minute video now on YouTube that shows the nearly two dozen folks who sportingly took a shot at defining the term. For the most part, they missed the mark. But they helped prove the company's point that dialogue can be more important than strict definitions when it comes to broaching sustainability.

The effort is part of Johnson Controls' "Efficiency Now" campaign to bring the message about energy efficiency to a mainstream audience -- a move GreenerBuildings wrote about in November, when Johnson Controls showcased several features of its public education program at the Greenbuild conference.

{related_content}Many of the program elements grew from tools the company developed to help employees and business clients learn about measuring and managing the environmental impact of everyday actions at home and at work., now a popular interactive tool among the Efficiency Now resources, had its start as a set of info cards for employees. The company couldn't keep enough in print and couldn't figure out why, until it came out that workers were giving sets of cards to their children, friends and community groups.

The "What the heck is Sustainability???" video started its life as a clip that's rolled on a monitor in the company's booth at conferences. It was also posted -- along with four other videos on different aspects of energy efficiency -- on the Efficiency Now page.

The video wasn't made available to a wider audience until someone at Johnson Controls decided to post it on YouTube to see what would happen. That occurred about three weeks ago without a lot of fanfare or a major viral marketing push, which might explain why it's had only 116 views as of this morning.

But then the aim wasn't to become a social media sensation along the lines of, say, the Matt Damon-Ben Affleck-Sarah Silverman-Jimmy-Kimmel magnitude.

Johnson Controls is offering up the video as a resource with the idea that people will find it a "useful, educational and hopefully entertaining and engaging" tool to spur action toward energy efficiency, Nesler says, and the first step to thought and action is getting people to talk. "We hope people will use this to help strike up the conversation," he says.