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We’re on a mission to make energy matter more to people at M&S. This isn’t only an aspiration for the sake of environmental sustainability, it is an economic and social goal as well. Second to staff pay, energy is our biggest cost at M&S. Therefore, it is business critical to make every effort to reduce the amount of electricity, water and gas we consume. 

We are on plan to achieve our 35% reduction target by 2015 on a 2006/7 benchmark. As a result, we’ve set ourselves an even more ambitious target going forward: 50% energy reduction by 2020 for UK stores, offices and distribution centres. Alongside this, we have also challenged our teams to come up with ways to cut water usage by 35%. These new targets are tough. We are innovating widely on the technology front, pioneering advances in refrigeration, LED lighting and waste heat reclaim, but there is another powerbase we need to tap: our people. 

By engaging, energising and rewarding our staff, we believe we can make significant savings and improve performance. To do this, communication is vital and so we have a new framework plan, we will empower our people with knowledge to deliver our ‘Making Energy Matter’ Campaign. We believe that the more information we give people, about the impact and effect of wasted energy and water, the more likely they are to do something about preventing it. In short, knowledge is the key to unlocking people power. 

Our plan is built around the M&S values: Showing Integrity; supporting Innovation; staying In Touch; and sharing Inspiration. This means celebrating achievement, encouraging colleague actions, engaging with engineering developments, plus exchanging ideas and feedback. We’ll provide our people with new knowledge and cheer on those who make energy-saving matters a priority. 

So how will this happen, in practice?

Long gone are the days when communicating meant a general announcement on Monday morning, then sticking a sheet of A4 on the company noticeboard. People are visual and, in this digital age, we are all used to a content-rich environment where we consume a lot of media, often simultaneously: seeing, reading, viewing, surfing. Therefore, to get a message across, successful communications need to seize every available medium of opportunity to share information, engage the imagination and make a connection. 

For M&S, this means the launch of our Making Energy Matter Campaign, using graphics and icons in a multitude of different formats: from presentations to posters, displays to desk-drops, web banners to booklets, emails to in-house magazines. 

So, where are the industry statistics to show how well this joined-up strategy will work for optimising energy efficiency? The thing is, there aren’t any as yet, not exactly. The approach is proven, just not necessarily in our market. In housing, for example, studies show that big energy savings come neither via new technology, nor behaviour change alone; but through a combination of the two, together. For retail, it is hard to calculate this multiplier effect. However, whilst individual figures might be difficult to determine, the overall trend is evident. We passionately believe that engaging people to behave in a more energy and water efficient way is as important as investing in efficiency technologies.   

Looking ahead, part of the behaviour-change challenge with energy communications will also be to help crunch some numbers – making it count, in every sense. In business, the old adage used to be that to ‘manage’ something first you had to ‘measure’ it. Now, I would add that you also have to ‘message’ it.

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M&S Cheshire Oaks Store - Energy

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