Employee involvement program in public facility energy management


Authors: Cíclica [space·community·ecology] i Synapcity

Members of Cíclica: Mariona Alcaraz (coordinator)

Client: Government of Viladecans

Project year: 2012-2015

Photography: Synapcity

The building sector’s energy consumption is responsible for more than a third of the energy consumption in Europe and is one of the main reasons for climate change. Even with the use of the most sustainable technology in buildings, it is not sufficient in ensuring reducing energy consumption unless the users are capable of efficiently operating the buildings and its installations. In the majority of cases, the use and the management of these strategies is unknown to users and, therefore, the there is no sense of responsibility. This project proposes a methodology to give transparency to sustainable strategies and to develop new habits for energy management.

A participatory research was designed as a pilot project at the municipal scale in Viladecans in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. The project, involving workers and users in the energy management of public facilities like schools, offices, and libraries, was completed in three years. The objective of the project is to evaluate the potential of considerable greenhouse gas emissions without affecting comfort or activities. During the program, no other improvements in the facilities or the buildings were applied in order to minimize the variables in the experiment. In the implementation of the program, tools were utilized to encourage and support behavior change such as training, task-oriented assignments, teamwork, and direct, comparative, and historical return of monthly and real-time energy information and periodic savings. The methodological objective is to give a combination of self-learning tools through collaborative work. A tailored implementation strategy was designed for each building, which required close cooperation with a wide range of players from politicians to workers in external service companies. Finally, a municipal Energy Bank will be created in order to capitalize the savings produced and, thus, finance the project itself and reinvest the remaining energy efficiency measures.

As a result of the change in organizational behavior, some of the buildings achieved up to a 30% decrease in electrical consumption, with an average of 17% compared to the previous three years. Additionally, two-thirds of the participants increased their appreciation of the space and comfort, an essential attitude to ensure long-term commitment. Building new habits through organizational learning processes is an effective and efficient way to create change.

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