We are at a historic inflection point. There are escalating economic and political concerns about access to and security of energy supplies, along with rising temperatures across the globe. In response, organizations are driving sustainable transformation in a variety of ways: adopting large-scale energy efficiency programs, increasing their reliance on renewable energy, and setting net-zero climate goals.
As part of Obbagy Consulting’s capabilities around environmental and social management services, a global manufacturer headquartered in Sweden with operations in developing countries asked us to design a virtual training workshop to help operating managers advance the implementation of energy efficiency measures across the organization. With the goal of raising awareness and developing internal skills, we designed a program structured as three distinct, logically sequential components to transfer information and to generate ideas and actions that could be easily implemented. See Figure 1.
This first component, Laying the Groundwork, established the information base required for participants to effectively engage in the training workshop. We researched and shared information from energy efficiency experts gleaned from published articles, scenarios and governmental reports. Specifically, we covered:
- Energy demand, noting that on a global basis, energy use will double by 2030, which raises concerns about scarcity and security. Projected increases in energy use are aligned with population and economic growth, particularly in developing countries. This leads to some uncertainty regarding the price of energy in the future.
- Energy policies adopted by countries and organizations to encourage energy efficiency and investment in new energy technologies and vehicle fuels.
- Energy technologies and distribution scenarios, suggesting that breakthroughs in technology are needed to reduce carbon emissions and to meet increasing energy demands. The supply of renewable energy will grow but may not meet demand predictions. Ultimately, energy efficiency will continue to play an important role in addressing demand forecasts throughout the world, including developing countries.
- Pressures from public interest groups, investors and insurance companies to invest in alternative technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
During the second phase of the workshop, we Highlighted the Incentives or the reasons for increasing the promotion and use of energy efficiency. We utilized a tool called You Make the Call, a short practicum asking the participants to be creative and to identify the drivers for implementing efficiency innovation and sustainability in the conduct of day-to-day activities. By applying information conveyed during the first portion of the workshop, the group concluded that being a global supplier of industrial products who manages energy effectively and engages in energy efficiency programs would be a significant reputational asset.
The last session of the workshop focused on providing participants with useable concepts and techniques that they could take back to their offices and put into practice—Supplying the Tools. We designed a role-playing exercise to facilitate an actual situation that could occur during the day-to-day implementation of energy efficiency responsibilities. The exercise required the participants to act out and try out new, polished and improved communication techniques with internal staff and outside personnel. Additionally, we encouraged participants to get involved with local energy groups to understand community issues and to work jointly with them to promote energy efficiency options, energy efficiency products and learning more about innovation in the area—all practical and actionable activities for moving forward.
Our approach to the energy efficiency training workshop was to help the client organization create a common understanding of energy efficiency issues and actions to encourage participants to apply them immediately and in the future. The benefits of the well-designed and executed program not only raised awareness about the topic, but also built the internal skills and positive mindset to help ensure success before significant resources were invested in an energy efficiency sustainability initiative. Ultimately, the participants overwhelming appreciated this workshop for transitioning its marketplace image to one associated with “buy green.”