In the latest in our series with Global Action Plan on the secrets of energy management, Tameside NHS Trust and Balfour Beatty Workplace reveal how hospital staff are embracing efficiency efforts
Green employee engagement campaigns often draw on crowd-sourcing techniques to encourage people to put forward ideas and proposals for green improvements, but how do you get staff to deliver the wisdom of the crowd when they are busy as the employees at your local hospital?
The answer for Tameside NHS Trust and Balfour Beatty Workplace, the facilities management firm that handles the PFI side of the hospital, was to host a Sustainability Day (on national NHS Sustainability Day), which provided hospital workers and patients with a simple means of contributing their ideas to improve the site.
The day brought together a demonstration of how the hospital is effectively managing its gardens in a sustainable manner, a police anti-theft bike tagging service and a survey from Balfour Beatty Workplace designed to assess how staff viewed the hospital's environmental and energy saving efforts and encourage proposals for further improvements.
"We really wanted to look at how to get staff involved in energy saving and get their feedback on where we should be focusing our efforts," explains Andrew Cairns, technical coordinator at Balfour Beatty Workplace, adding that there was a positive response from employees, many of whom encouraged their colleagues to fill in the survey. The promise of a prize draw for a Kindle may have helped drive participation, but Cairns argues that across the NHS there is now widespread awareness of the importance of energy efficiency.
"Money is obviously a huge issue within the NHS, so the more that can be saved on energy, the more there is to spend on other services," he says. "More and more people are starting to pick up on how big the energy bills are for hospitals. They didn't used to realise that they can run to millions of pounds."
The primary aim of the survey was to find out what energy issues interest staff – an approach which according to behaviour change experts gives facilities managers greater legitimacy when they take steps to improve efficiency.
"We were able to find out what matters to people, which is so much more effective than just telling them to switch lights off," says Cairns. "It gives employees ownership over improvements, which means that when you do make changes, you can say to people that they were proposed by one of their colleagues."
The Sustainability Day took place on 28 March. Now Balfour Beatty Workplace and the Trust are looking at how to act on some of the proposals that were put forward. First, the company is planning to act on employee frustration over battery powered devices being left plugged in to recharge even when they are fully charged. As a result it is looking at instructing facilities staff to check and unplug devices that are fully charged.
Similarly, a lot of hospital staff wanted to see steps taken to encourage people to use the stairs instead of the lifts. Balfour Beatty Workplace is now in the process of calculating how much energy each lift journey uses so they can launch a poster campaign that shows people how much energy they can save by using the stairs. There are also plans to work with the hospital's occupational therapy department to use the campaign to also highlight the health benefits of using the stairs.
The survey also gave a boost to the company's ongoing efforts to install energy-efficient lighting technologies and sensor-based management systems across the estate, with staff revealing that they want to see the technology rolled out more widely.
"We are getting on with improvements," says Cairns. "But it is not always that visible to people when you change a lamp. Having a Sustainability Day gives you a chance to demonstrate that these improvements are happening."
Finally, hospital workers said they wanted to see a hospital-wide employee engagement and communications campaign to encourage and promote greener behaviour. And with that endorsement in place Balfour Beatty and the NHS Trust are now starting work on how to deliver a campaign that can help encourage the kind of energy saving best practices that can typically cut energy bills by up to 10 per cent with virtually no upfront cost.
The campaign is likely to draw on some of the techniques set out by environmental charity Global Action Plan at a recent DECC-supported energy manager training course that Cairns attended.
"One of the key aspects we are looking at is identifying the main influencers within the organisation who have the reach to promote behaviour change," he says.
The campaign now looks likely to kick off later this year, and it is all thanks to the wisdom of the Tameside Hospital's own crowd.
This sponsored content was developed in partnership with Global Action Plan
On Bob Dylan, World Cups, and the true urgency of the climate challenge
Deadline for entry to this year's awards is 5pm today
Inaugural GGFI ranks the work's financial centres according to perceptions of quality and depth of their green finance offerings
Data from trade body SolarPower Europe confirms continued strong growth for the industry throughout 2017