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Empower - empowering employees to reduce workplace emissions

Online tool enlists employees in war against rising energy bills

5 January 2012

Whitbread is one of the first major businesses to sign up to a new Carbon Trust initiative targeting £500million of energy and waste savings in the workplace.

Employees could save UK businesses and public bodies £500m and two million tonnes of CO2 - equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of all the households in Birmingham - thanks to a new, online office tool called 'Carbon Trust Empower™' launched today by the Carbon Trust.

By engaging employees in cutting energy use, paper waste and travel, Carbon Trust Empower has the potential to save a typical small business over 15% of their energy bill or more than £6K per year - equivalent to powering 3.5km of street lights for a year.  Larger businesses* that base their approach on this tool could save £150K and over 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Each individual employee's efforts can amount to carbon emissions reductions (220kgCO2) equivalent to heating the average household for a month**.

Whitbread and Oxford City Council have already signed their staff up to use the online tool that enables employees to make practical commitments through an interactive animated tour of a typical workplace, and which can provide the springboard for larger organisations to raise the bar through ambitious internal behavioural change programmes.

Employees are able to explore energy saving opportunities throughout their office - starting by considering how they arrive for work, with options to join a company carpool or travel by public transport, before moving on to their desk, where they can commit to switch off their PC when not in use, print double-sided, and teleconference rather than travel. The virtual journey also helps staff cut energy waste in other parts of the office, such as the reception area, kitchen, corridors and toilets.

As well as helping individuals create and keep track of personal action plans, Empower provides a wealth of engaging workplace facts and enables office managers to view the sum of their employees' individual energy savings.


Companies often struggle to harness the huge energy savings that an effectively engaged workforce can help deliver. Part of the problem employers face is making actions practical, fun and sustained. By creating a virtual tour entirely from an employee's viewpoint, every aspect of Empower has been designed with the end-user in mind. Employees are a critical ally in cutting energy waste. Get them onboard and reap the rewards in lower bills and reduced carbon emissions.

Richard Rugg, Director of Carbon Trust Programmes

Whitbread has a clear target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26% by 2020. To get there we have embedded sustainability into the heart of our business and we are working closely with our teams and business partners to reduce energy and water consumption. We believe that Empower is a strong learning platform which will help our teams to understand how we can work together to reduce energy consumption within our portfolio of buildings in the UK. It is a straightforward and user-friendly tool, which is easily accessible online and may lead to tonnes of CO2 emissions being saved across our business. It also demonstrates that as we save energy, we also save money, bringing real commercial benefits to the bottom line.

Chris George, Head of Energy & Environment, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants

Oxford City Council is committed to tackling climate change, and engaging and empowering employees is a critical way for us to make significant carbon and financial savings. The new Empower tool is great fun to use and we intend to roll this out to all our staff in the near future as part of our commitment to reduce our operational carbon emissions by 28% by the end of March 2012, relative to the 05/06 baseline emissions. We will also encourage our Low Carbon Oxford partners to use it with their staff too.

Paul Robinson, Team Leader, Energy and Climate Change at Oxford City Council


Companies can encourage their employees to sign up to energy saving at Companies interested in tailoring the software for their own business should call the Advice Line on 020 7170 7000.

By following the Carbon Trust's top tips for office energy efficiency, companies could make annual savings of over £200 per employee:

  1. Turning off your PC and monitor in the evening could save £39/yr per person
  2. Keeping blinds open and turning off lights when there is enough daylight, or when areas are unoccupied could save more than £10/yr per person
  3. Accepting a slightly (1°C) reduced temperature in the workplace could save over £4/yr per person
  4. Using the phone or video conferencing to avoid four car journeys could save £150/yr
  5. Reducing paper use by only printing when needed, and printing double sided could save £20/yr each per person

Notes to editors

For further information:

For more information and to speak to a Carbon Trust spokesperson, please contact the Carbon Trust press office:

Tel no: 0207 544 3100

*Savings based on implementing half of the measures recommend in Empower. Larger business  based on an estimate of savings from a typical 10 storey office building with 30,000m2 floor area and 2,500 employees.
** Based on energy used for space heating of an average household over 1 year, averaged over 12 months, based on data published by DECC.

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, providing specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies.  By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs.

We help to cut carbon emissions now by

  • Providing specialist advice and finance to help organisations cut carbon
  • Setting standards for carbon reduction

We reduce potential future carbon emissions by

  • Opening markets for low carbon technologies
  • Leading industry collaborations to commercialise technologies
  • Investing in early stage low carbon companies

About Empower

Carbon Trust Empower is an online tool from the Carbon Trust, designed to 'empower employees' to make energy savings in their office.

Through tutorials, virtual tours, a quiz, and other interactive elements, Empower will help raise your awareness of carbon and cost-saving opportunities, as well as encourage you to make a contribution, and a commitment to save in your office.

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