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Ask An Energy Pro: Sustainability Action is Sustainability Education

September 18, 2023

One of our focus areas at Energy Sciences is education; this is not exclusive to the academic model usually associated with the term. Sustainability education comes in many forms across industries, channels, and conversations. When speaking with our Regional Program Director, Mike Chimack, he shared that enlightening different communities, businesses, and organizations can be as simple as creatively utilizing what is right in front of them.

“There is a trade saying that holds incredibly true: you have to walk the talk,” Mike said regarding content in sustainability education. “What we share within and across our industries has to go beyond what we put on our websites. We have to actively represent the concepts that we stand behind with our actions.”

As the world continues to change, there has been a noticeable rise in companies opting into sustainability programs and optimizing their energy efficiency. The EPA projects that 30% of companies will switch to ESG data management platforms to stay accountable and transparent about their sustainability efforts. It may seem like simple reporting on the outside, but displaying this information creates pathways for further discussions around the next steps in energy use reduction and provides education on how we use our resources.

Another simple form of ongoing sustainability education is outwardly providing models or goals that follow larger initiatives. For example, a global model for building out company sustainability goals is the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs). It provides the framework for taking action in sustainability and offers regular reports, news updates, and data that show the trajectory of current efforts worldwide. In 2023, people from three different generations are in decision-making roles – leadership and management –  in business and government. Yet, there are notable differences between them as to what sustainability actually means.

Mike shared, “It’s been my experience that saving money provides universally understood answers to sustainability questions and opportunities to educate consumers. For example, an energy assessment might show one can shut off certain lighting in a plant eighty percent of the time. I can tell you it will save you kilowatt-hours, which ultimately will help you reduce costs and tell you how the energy savings improves the sustainability of the plant. And the reduced costs may be used to improve sustainability in other areas of the plant. Through ongoing conversations with our clients, we can present sustainability as something that doesn’t necessarily require more money and reframes it as education of utilizing or adjusting what you have to spend that money elsewhere.”

Energy Sciences prioritizes working creatively with the products, production, and services businesses already have. “We have a responsibility to teach and share our knowledge as people who work in sustainability,” Mike remarked when considering our services. “For example, say you need a new air conditioning system. We see it as part of our everyday work and form of sustainability education to inform you that there are utility programs that have incentives and rebates, not just on a corporate or industrial level, but on all levels. Sustainability is more accessible than people realize. The more we share and discuss, the better we as individuals become at speaking about it to clients, community members, colleagues, organizations, and the greater public.”

When it comes to educational resources, the misconception lies in the idea of style. In an age where exploration of knowledge is at the tip of our fingers, Mike says that it is now commonplace for individuals and companies to have multiple channels within their reach. “That reach makes a difference. Everyone touches a different community and a different audience,” he said. “Continuing education has to be focused on the change you want to see. We have so many better tools for networking and research than ever before. It’s powerful to remember that all of our channels can spark something new – fill them with what you follow. You involve people by showing up, demonstrating, and living by example. People think simple things don’t matter; if everyone showed how simple it is to recycle one thing in their home or business, it makes a difference.”

Are you ready to walk the talk? Contact us to learn about energy and cost-saving solutions for your business, facility, and greater community.

Categories: Ask An Energy Pro, Blog, Sustainability