In Green Company Behavior Methods for Energy Efficiency

Today's leading companies are developing energy efficiency programs. Their motivations are more diverse than you might think. Some want to attract the best talent. Others are motivated by the founding values of the company. Most are accountable to the bottom line.

Across the board, success requires smart, engaged users. This tool set was designed, using insight from real world, to help companies leverage human behaviors for better energy consumption.

What approach is right for you?

While energy costs are high, companies are motivated by more than their bottom line when it comes to energy efficiency. The following four elements are the patterns in companies’ motivations. Consider what profile best aligns with your motivation, and use the accompanying methods cards to explore opportunity areas.

Cultural DNA

As new generations of green leaders grow their businesses, they are seeking to transmit and grow their values throughout the company, figuring how out how to do well and do good at the same time.

Automation Nation

Today, smart technology is prevalent and cost-effective. Companies are looking to smart technology to reduce their energy costs and environmental footprint. Smart technology, however, still requires smart users.

Green Gravity

Increasingly, leaders are recognizing that to attract the best talent and the best markets, they need to be authentically green. From GREEN buildings to GREEN drinks, these companies are transforming who they are in the world to create the greatest pull.


Executives are recognizing that they can get more out of their employees when they empower them rather than attempt to control them. In this environment, employees are bubbling ideas -- from energy efficiency to process enhancements -- that proving valuable to the financial and cultural health of companies.


Five insights emerged from our real world research, which framed our behavioral patterns and method cards:

  • 1

    It’s not just about money

    While it is true that energy costs are are a burden, successful companies are motivated by more than the reduction of their energy costs. For some, energy programs are a bi-product of employee engagement programs; for others, they are a tool for attracting talent.

  • 2

    Energy efficiency isn’t the “right” goal

    While energy efficiency has become the pop term for what we want to do, its a relatively meaningless goal for many companies. Companies are more focused on “sufficiency” - the process of identifying what energy goals are unique and appropriate to them individually.

  • 3

    Power of individual agency trumps

    In order for a company to achieve its energy efficiency goals, everyone in the company must take ownership of the problem. Leveraging the behaviors of employees begins with the creation of opportunities for them to play a role as an individual and as a team.

  • 4

    Success is as much about culture and engagement as it is about smart technology

    While smart technology plays an important role in helping companies reduce their energy consumption dramatically, company culture and employee engagement are equally important for success.

  • 5

    Passion rules

    People are genuinely passionate about good energy use, and in most cases, it is this passion that catalyzes a company’s energy programs. Passion also drives new ideas for lowering energy consumption, and is a used to influence adoption of energy programs.

Rhode Island Energy Sources, Practices, and Policies

Designing programs to reduce energy consumption starts with understanding the context in which you're working. This map explains the energy sources, distribution system, and relevant policies that define a company's energy options.

Power Grid
Power Plant
Natural Gas

Power plants

Industrial facility that converts natural gas (or coal outside of RI) to electricity; 98% of the RI’s electricity comes from natural gas.

Electrical Grid

Interconnected network for delivering electricity from suppliers to consumers, made up of three main components

  1. generating plants that produce electricity from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, biomass) or renewable energy sources (wind, solar, nuclear, hydro power);
  2. transmission lines that carry electricity from power plants to demand centers; and
  3. transformers that reduce voltage so distribution lines can carry power to individual users.

Energy Policy in Rhode Island

Constraints and Opportunities

Rhode Island is unique in that, despite its small size and singular metropolitan area, it has no energy czar, or a centralized group that connects all of the “players” within the energy ecosystem. With National Grid as the state’s only distribution company for natural gas and electricity, they have played a major role in initiating policies and providing incentives towards more energy efficient commercial practices. Aside from National Grid, other notable players include the state’s legislative bodies, civic groups that came out of policy changes, including the Energy Efficiency Resource Management Council (EERMC), and other groups that provide advocacy and resources for commercial and industrial (C&I) energy users.

The following timeline shows the most recent and important policy changes that have sparked better energy practices within RI’s C&I sector:

  • 2006 Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Affordability and Conservation Act- by Environment Northeast, Environment North America, TEC-RI, and National Grid.

    • Changed how Rhode Island buys its power: National Grid is required to invest in energy efficiency whenever it is cheaper than buying power from a power plant and whenever it’s cost effective
    • Sparked the creation of the EERMC: a stakeholder body with representatives from different sectors of energy use, including residential, low income, large commercial industry, small commercial industrial, and environmental interest
    • Changed how the state invests in the distribution system: promoting underutilized energy efficiency, distributed generation, and demand response resources to improve system reliability by reducing the strain on the electricity grid (instead of upgrading or building additional infrastructure)
  • 2008 Opportunity Report by EERMC

    Identifies opportunities for National Grid to purchase low-cost efficiency and system reliability resources

  • 2008 Least Cost Procurement by National Grid

    Outlines how they will invest in the least cost, cleanest resource

  • 2009 3 Year electric efficiency plan by EERMC with National Grid

    Explains the implementation of what's contained in the 2008 Opportunity Report

  • Dec 2011

    RI’s Public Utilities Commission approves the 3 Year electric efficiency plan and 2012 Implementation Plan, which more than doubles National Grid’s investment in energy efficiency ($40 mil>$88 mil) by 2014