Treasure Hunts: Engaging employees equals successful energy reduction and big savings

Employee engagement is becoming a hot topic around the corporate water cooler.  Increasingly, CSR managers are seeing it as a way to not only have happier employees, but also to drive business value.

At the same time, many companies are not fully taking advantage of energy efficiency, despite all the opportunities it can offer for saving money and lowering a company’s environmental footprint.

One proven model, Treasure Hunts, provides a high-impact way to engage employees and reduce energy use — at the same time.  First developed by Toyota, Treasure Hunts are dynamic, hands-on events that resemble a cross between an energy audit and a scavenger hunt.

Spanning somewhere between one and three days, depending on the size and complexity of the facility, each Hunt involves cross-functional teams of employees who work together to identify and quantify savings opportunities for lighting, HVAC, equipment and more – wherever energy is used.  Commonly associated with manufacturing, Treasure Hunts have been tested in office spaces and many other types of buildings.

EDF has now taken the Treasure Hunt model and is working with labor unions to build stronger, more sustainable workplaces by tapping the unique expertise of union members and help uncover energy and environmental savings that strengthen the bottom line and improve the competitiveness of participating companies. Learn more about our work with labor unions.

Resources for doing Treasure Hunts

The art of developing and facilitating Treasure Hunts is usually learned by shadowing an experienced Treasure Hunt leader.

GE has now published a Treasure Hunt Checklist, which outlines its process for setting up and facilitating the events, to help other interested companies. GE has performed over 200 internal Treasure Hunts across its businesses with $150 million in savings opportunities identified.

Also, GreenBiz.com recently published “How to Conduct a Treasure Hunt,” which offers additional tips and best practices.

Build energy efficiency into corporate culture

Successful Treasure Hunts involve employees from throughout the company:  From maintenance and facilities to engineering and marketing to the CFO’s office.  Doing so not only brings in fresh ideas and increases employee awareness about energy efficiency, but also generates immediate employee buy-in.  Simply put, employees who are given the opportunity to present their ideas to management at the end of the Treasure Hunt are going to care very much if those ideas are implemented.

Ultimately, a Treasure Hunt can be the beginning of a new employee culture where everyone feels ownership over energy use.