Why would one of the leading supermarkets embark on a challenging energy saving programme?

21 September 2016

By Naomi Allen, Head of Corporate & Retail, Global Action Plan 

This is the question you may ask if you were to see the logistical effort, personal commitment, sheer organisational might and, let’s be honest, a generous dose of angst, that goes into organising a company-wide behaviour change programme when you are one of the country’s largest employers.

The answer is simple: The energy savings resulting from behaviour change can be significant. In a recent pilot of our programme, which focuses on reducing unnecessary energy use in stores of all sizes nationwide using behaviour change techniques, one region in Glasgow saved £24,000 and over 220,000 kWh on their energy bill - enough to bake 1.3 million loaves of bread - in just 9 weeks!

With supermarkets accounting for 3% of the UK’s total energy use, the potential for savings and energy reductions are huge. So here’s my thoughts on ways to get started.

1. Make sure you engage, engage, engage

With a project this size, there are a multitude of stakeholders that you need to engage with, ensuring that they have sight of the plan and have signed it off. Many times we thought we had got to the bottom of the list only to find out that there were more stakeholders that we needed to engage. You can never over engage and giving people all the information they need will make getting sign-off easier.

2. Put colleagues at the centre

Always use your colleagues as the starting point. It is vital to establish which energy saving actions are worthwhile and likely to be implemented by staff in store. This is second nature to us at GAP. We then explore how these actions can be carried out in different supermarket areas and support colleagues and managers alike to overcome any barriers that will prevent energy saving actions from being effective.

3. Make the pilot count

Ensure the pilot is relevant to all. This is crucial to its success. Also think about how you will make it easy for colleagues to continue to do the behaviour. Collecting and sharing stories on best practice will help to create a really tailored approach that encourages staff to drive meaningful behaviour change.

4. Be prepared for the nitty, gritty.

The devil is in the detail, so make it a project priority to carefully plan the introduction of your behaviour change programme. We had to work long and hard with the planning teams at head office to map out how to logistically roll-out our programme to over 1200 stores nationwide without disrupting their busy schedules.

Has it all been worth it?

100%! Early feedback has been really positive and is already showing great savings. The employees are enthusiastic about it too. "The opportunities are endless. Each store has proven that putting focus and effort into changing behaviours around their own identified areas can really pay off. It doesn't matter if it is night blinds in one store or ovens in another, it all makes a difference." Pete, Store Manager, Tonbridge.
Pioneering this form of collective action is carving out a path for other retailers to follow. The approach has the potential for enormous carbon and cost reductions - more impressive savings are sure to follow, so watch this space!