In Europe, buildings account for over 40% of the total energy consumed and user behaviour accounts for a significant proportion of this. While many people are aware of the importance of saving energy, sometimes there can be a lack of understanding of where significant changes can be made. Codema, an energy agency set up by Dublin in 1997 to help the city meet its energy performance targets, ran "Think Energy" a year-long information campaign from June 2013 to June 2014 to reduce people’s energy use in the Dublin civic offices.
To remain fresh and engaging year round, the campaign had seasonal material and activities. The campaign also hosted regular lunchtime energy talks, using interesting local presenters and energy events with interactive stands, such as an ‘energy bike’ that made electricity more tangible for staff by showing them how tough it is to generate a couple of kilowatts. ‘Energy ambassadors’ were key to the success of the campaign. One person from each department would act as an energy champion within their own office. This way, those who were really engaged in the subject could lead by example, displaying behaviours and advocating in a friendly way so that they spread to other staff.
The campaign originally aimed at achieving a 5% reduction in energy use. While it is always hard to quantify behavioural change in terms of kilowatt hours saved, the monitoring done during the project found a 13% reduction in energy consumption in Civic Offices after one year!
During the campaign, Codema also developed ‘home energy savings kits’ small boxes with a range of tools people could use to better understand and improve their home energy use. Dublin City Council placed these kits in libraries across the city, where people are now able to check them out just as they would a library book. People bring the kits home and use the tools to get a sense of how much energy they are using every day, and what they can do to reduce this consumption. The scheme was so popular that it was quickly brought to every public library in Dublin, and has now been extend across other cities and regions in Ireland.
Learn more about Dublin's action in the latest Covenant Case Study!