Task 15: Our personnel and on-site contractors are aware of our energy policy and their energy-related roles and responsibilities. We have processes in place for internal and any applicable external energy management system communications.
Detailed Guidance: Awareness and Communication
Getting It Done
- Develop and deliver an initial energy management system (EnMS) communication from top management that includes the importance of energy management and the organization’s energy policy.
- Develop the details for EnMS awareness training for specific personnel or departments.
- Plan and implement awareness training.
- Conduct awareness training and retain records.
- Plan and implement internal communication processes of the EnMS, including a suggestion system.
- Plan and implement external EnMS communication processes.
Creating organizational awareness about the energy management system (EnMS) and energy performance is an important part of getting and sustaining buy-in. It is top management’s responsibility to communicate the importance of energy management and to encourage employee participation. Top management takes the first steps in conveying this message, which is then supported by ongoing processes for internal communications.
Personnel must also be aware of their roles and responsibilities related to the organization’s EnMS. Energy awareness among personnel is a first step in integrating energy management into daily operations and supporting effective EnMS functioning. These personnel include anyone working under the organization’s control, and include salaried, hourly, part-time, and temporary employees, as well as on-site contractors, suppliers, and consultants.
Communication is an important element of the EnMS. Implementing an EnMS involves organizational and cultural change, and communicating internally is a critical component in managing that change successfully.
External communication processes help ensure that any required reporting of energy information is managed appropriately. They also provide an opportunity for the organization to potentially enhance its public image and demonstrate leadership in sustainability by proactively sharing energy performance information with outside stakeholders. Whether internal or external, the EnMS communication processes must ensure that the information communicated is consistent and dependable and that responsibilities and authorities for the various types of communication are assigned.
This guidance is relevant to sections 5.1 f), 7.3, and 7.4 of the ISO 50001:2018 standard.
In the early stages of energy management system (EnMS) implementation, the goals of the initial EnMS communication to employees are to:
- announce your organization’s commitment to energy performance improvement,
- announce the undertaking of EnMS implementation,
- broadly communicate the energy policy,
- encourage active participation and input by employees, and
- set the stage for ongoing energy-related communications.
Information that can effectively deliver this message generally includes the following:
- What are we doing? (implementing an EnMS)
- Why are we doing it? (business drivers)
- How will an EnMS help us? (benefits)
- Who is leading the effort? (energy team)
- Who else is involved? (everyone)
- What energy commitments have we made? (energy policy)
- Why do your actions matter? (impacts of energy behaviors)
- What’s next? (expectations)
The energy team usually develops the content for this initial communication, with input from top management.
Once the content has been developed, a decision is needed on how the information will be formatted and delivered to the workforce. Regardless of the method(s) used, it is critical that top management delivers this initial message and continues to proactively communicate about energy management across the organization. Top management sets the strategic direction for your organization and provides the resources for organizational initiatives, so they need to establish energy management as an important organizational priority. Their active participation and visibility is needed to demonstrate management commitment to the EnMS and energy performance improvement. It also sets a positive example for employees.
Common approaches to formatting and presenting the message include slide presentations, videos, newsletters, brochures, all-hands emails, corporate intranet announcements, and paycheck inserts.
If print communications are used, ensure it is clear that the message comes from top management. Live events led by top management such as a kick-off activity, employee luncheon, or all-employees meeting tend to be more effective in delivering the message and garnering employee attention and support than passive approaches.
Awareness of the importance of managing energy is relevant to personnel across the organization, as well as to your on-site contractors, suppliers, consultants, and others. To be effective, all personnel included within the scope and boundaries of the EnMS must be aware of how the EnMS impacts their daily work activities and know their roles and responsibilities.
Ensuring personnel’s ongoing awareness is key to driving energy management into the organization’s daily operations and supporting effective functioning of the EnMS.
EnMS communication and training activities need to ensure that all personnel, including on-site contractors and service providers, are aware of their EnMS responsibilities, including the following:
- The energy policy: Personnel are expected to be aware of how energy relates to their job activities and how their work demonstrates the commitments of the energy policy, including improved energy performance.
- How they contribute to the EnMS: Personnel must understand how their activities contribute to achieving the organization’s specific objectives and energy targets.
- Benefits of improved energy performance: Personnel must be aware of the benefits of improved energy performance. Examples of potential benefits include reduced costs, higher profit margin, more efficient operation, less maintenance, reduced environmental impact, extended equipment life, and improved comfort.
- Impact of activities and behavior on energy performance: Personnel must be aware of how their activities and behaviors affect energy use, energy consumption, and energy efficiency.
- Consequences of not following EnMS requirements: Personnel must be aware of the implications of not following the requirements of the EnMS. The energy policy is an umbrella for the development of activities and processes to maximize the efficient use of energy and reduce energy consumption. For example, failure to respond to a significant deviation in the energy performance of a significant energy use (SEU) could result in a significant increase in the site’s overall energy consumption.
The optional Playbook worksheet can help you define and document the specific awareness requirements associated with each individual, position, or department.
Once the awareness requirements have been defined, the optional Playbook worksheet can be used to document the awareness training needs throughout the organization and to develop a plan to address those needs. The training plan includes who, what, when, where, and how; and can serve as the training record. The optional Playbook worksheet may be referenced for additional examples.
Most organizations develop some form of general EnMS awareness training that can be used as an overall introduction to the EnMS for new and existing employees, contractors, suppliers, and others who perform work on site.
A general EnMS awareness training typically ranges from 5 to 30 minutes in length and may involve such training and communication aids as videos, slide presentations, brochures, handouts, or postings. One approach is to make a general Initial EnMS Awareness Presentation and add slides specifically addressing the SEUs, objectives, energy targets, and other needed information for specific audiences. Such presentations are sometimes conducted face-to-face in real time or posted on an intranet for review by employees and contractors.
Organizations often leverage their existing supplier/contractor communication processes to provide EnMS or energy awareness information.
You should establish a process that ensures internal communications related to the EnMS are carried out on an ongoing basis. At a minimum, you should determine:
- what types of information will be communicated,
- when the communication will occur,
- the audience for the communication,
- how the communication will be conducted, and
- who will do the communicating.
Topics and items that are required to be communicated internally to relevant personnel include the following:
- Energy policy
- The importance of effective energy management
- Commitment and role of top management
- Roles and responsibility of staff
- Objectives and energy targets
- Operational criteria
A variety of methods can be used to communicate internally, including the following:
- Internal newsletters
- Intranet sites
- Suggestion or incentive systems
Different methods can be used to communicate different EnMS topics or items to different audiences. Use your existing internal communication processes where practicable.
Communications have to take place on an ongoing basis. Top management must communicate the importance of energy management across the organization and ensure that relevant roles, responsibilities, and authorities are assigned and communicated. Often, this responsibility is delegated to the energy management team. Generally, it is the energy management team that ensures that internal EnMS communications (including those by top management) occur across all levels and functions of the organization.
Not all employees need the same information. Consider communication strategies and content that is appropriate for the different audiences. Use the optional Playbook worksheet to help plan and implement internal communication processes for the EnMS.
The pathways of effective communication are multidirectional. EnMS communications must include mechanisms that enable employees to communicate upward within the organization (bottom-up), as well as laterally across the organization.
Part of communicating internally is the use of a comment or suggestion system to ensure that both employees and others working under the control of the organization (such as contractors and suppliers working on site) can submit comments or suggest improvements to the EnMS. Effective suggestion systems ensure that there is some form of feedback on the comments and suggestions, even if some ideas are determined to not be feasible.
The optional Playbook worksheet can be used to help develop a comment and suggestion system, which can be either manual or electronic. Alternatively, some organizations leverage the ongoing activities of their continual improvement teams as mechanisms for generating suggestions and comments for EnMS or energy-related improvements. Examples of common approaches to suggestion systems for on-site contractors include suggestion boxes and routine supplier/contractor meetings.
The energy team needs to decide whether any suggested improvements will be retained as documented information. Consider including potentially feasible suggestions as part of the development of opportunities for energy performance improvement (see Task 10 Improvement Opportunities).
Some organizations provide incentives for participation in comment or suggestion systems. Typically, the suggestions that were implemented and led to the greatest cost savings or improvements in energy performance are highlighted, along with the person(s) who submitted the idea. Some examples of actual incentives or rewards include:
- Feature articles in the organization’s internal newsletter
- Monetary gift cards
- Movie tickets
- Catered lunches served by the supervisors and managers
- Awards of marketing novelties (t-shirt, mug, ball cap, etc.)
- Designated parking space for the month
Although required by ISO 50001, some organizations may resist suggestion systems. In large organizations with hundreds or even thousands of employees, suggestion systems can quickly become overwhelming. This can be especially true if there are incentives or gain-sharing programs that support the suggestion process. One way to manage the volume of suggestions while ensuring their appropriate consideration is to is to limit the open suggestion period to a pre-determined schedule. This approach also can be useful in smaller organizations with limited personnel resources for managing the suggestion and commenting processes.
External EnMS communications processes must be established and implemented. At a minimum, the process for external communication needs to address the following:
- What topics or information will be communicated externally
- When the communication will occur
- Who the audience for the communication is
- How the communication will occur
- Who will do the communicating
Recognizing the growing public, customer, and other stakeholder interest in sustainability and the desire of many organizations to demonstrate leadership in this area, some organizations decide to communicate proactively about their energy policy, goals, and achievements. Other organizations take a reactive approach, responding to relevant inquiries or requests for information on a case-by-case basis.
For external EnMS communication processes, be sure to review and coordinate as needed with any existing communication policies or procedures. Such policies may stipulate that only specific organizational positions (personnel) are responsible for and have the authority to communicate with specific types of stakeholders or interested parties such as utility providers, community representatives, or government regulators. The optional Playbook worksheet can help with planning external communications. External and internal communication planning can be combined to reduce effort.
External communications typically include the following:
- Availability of the energy policy to external interested parties
- Voluntary or mandatory reporting of energy data and related information to external interested parties such as regulators, voluntary programs subscribed to by the organization, or the corporate office
- Informing suppliers that energy performance is an evaluation factor for purchases affecting SEUs
- Communicating specifications for purchases of energy supply
- Communicating specifications for ensuring the energy performance of purchased equipment and services
If your organization decides to be proactive in its external communications about energy and the EnMS, consider communicating the following types of information:
- Energy policy
- Objectives and energy targets
- Energy conservation or energy-efficiency projects
- Energy performance Improvements
- Energy cost savings
- Use of renewable energy
- Participation in voluntary energy or environmental programs
Examples of mechanisms for external communications include:
- Press releases
- Annual reports
- Sustainability reports
- Print or electronic newsletters
- Electronic meetings/webinars
- Community meetings
- Site tours or open houses
- Sponsorship opportunities
- Radio/television spots
Your organization can choose whether it will maintain or retain documented information related to EnMS communications, including the comment or suggestion system. The optional Playbook worksheet can be used to retain documented information related to EnMS communications.
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