Standard Bank Group is a huge energy consumer. In 2016 in South Africa, we consumed more than R399 million worth of electricity, enough to power 64 000 homes. Our countrywide network of 635 branches consumes more than R100 million worth of electricity every year. Imagine the positive effect on profitability and on the environment if our branches could reduce their energy consumption?Branch staff, Edenvale South Africa
This question was asked by Group Real Estate (GRES) Energy Management when it implemented its innovative Switch Campaign in Gauteng in 2016 to educate people about energy use and encourage everyone to do their bit to save. The pilot campaign involved 30 branches in the province and aimed to reduce energy consumption by 4%, translating into a saving of 1111MWh, or R1.67 million.
We all know that energy savings are realised by using more energy-efficient appliances. But more than that, the best way to reduce our consumption is to change our habits. Hence, the primary objective of the pilot project was to change behaviour by running a competition between our branches to see which one could save the most. Our 30 branches were divided into groups of five and GRES representatives visited each branch to suggest changes that could be made without impacting customers. This was accompanied by weekly profiles sent to each branch showing their daily energy consumption.
Our Edenvale branch emerged the clear winner. Based on prior energy use, GRES expected Edenvale to use 71 484.85 kWh over the four months. Instead, it used only 55 404.07 kWh, translating into a saving of 16 080.79kWh. Nosipho Chawe, Branch Manager, says that it was all the result of teamwork, emphasising that behaviour, not technology, is the priority when it comes to saving energy, because people contribute to technology change and are alert to its usage.
During the campaign, she highlighted that saving energy was everyone’s responsibility and focused on the small things as well as the big things, such getting her staff to agree to boil just a cup’s worth of water and not a full kettle for a cup of tea, and to make sure that the air conditioning (the main energy consumer) was turned off when they all left the branch. As well as being vigilant about behaviour, she reinforced the message regularly through short stand-up sessions every couple of days, and used humour to gently point out energy-wasting mistakes.
Following the success of the pilot programme, GRES aims to roll out the campaign countrywide later this year, which could result in significant savings; if we reduced energy consumption across all our branches by 1% over 12 months, we would save 752MWh, translating to R1.128 million. If we could reduce consumption by 10% over that period, we would save about R11.2 million, which would exceed our entire South African energy-saving target. A 10% reduction is not that hard if we just switch things off at night.