Reducing energy-related carbon emissions

Insights from energy expert Erin Roughton

Mission Zero hosts numerous climate change workshops throughout the year. In May 2024, our first Behaviour Change session featured several round-table discussions led by professionals experienced in sustainable transport, energy, waste, and procurement.

Erin Roughton, Managing Director of energy management company Emsol, led a five year energy-savings programme for Affco, a tannery operating across 11 sites in Aotearoa New Zealand. This programme, which included several behaviour change initiatives, achieved a 50 per cent decrease in energy use. We invited Erin to share his insights.

Erin designed a behaviour change programme for Affco, involving five main steps:

  • Commitment: Assigning accountability, targets and funds.
  • Understanding: Building knowledge and buy-in through conversations with, and input from, a select team of cross-department influencers.
  • Planning: Allocating and spreading responsibility, setting out timelines, scheduling meetings and reporting sessions, and integrating into existing projects where possible.
  • Implementation: Identifying cost-saving opportunities and reporting on these, fostering friendly cross-team competition.
  • Monitoring and Reporting: A key step, involving calculating, adjusting, and presenting regular reports to demonstrate progress and maintain enthusiasm and momentum.

A critical point of engagement at the start of the project was the promotion of results from a quick, early win – a reduction in energy consumption by adjusting the use of an industrial fan, which was turned down during the week and off over the weekend.

The behaviour change programme, combined with significant operational and infrastructure changes, successfully achieved Affco’s goal for a 50 per cent reduction in energy and carbon consumption over five years (adjusted for production changes).

Erin emphasised the exponential nature of this progress, noting that no savings were made in the first year, followed by 16 per cent in the second year and another 14 per cent in the third and fourth years. His key takeaway was that these initiatives take time, making planning and preparation even more critical.

Many New Zealand businesses can save up to 20% on their energy bills by being smarter with their energy use. Read the Sustainable Business Network’s Saving Energy Resource Sheet for help with measuring your energy use, creating an energy efficiency policy, and tips to make savings.

Join us

Sign up to our database for news and alerts to help you take action on climate change. By joining us you become part of a growing business network which recognises that our climate is built into our economy.
Join us

Related posts

Insights from expert Rachael Williams-Gaul
Insights from waste management expert Zoie Bryce
Insights from sustainability expert Lisa Bridson