The START2ACT project started in March 2016 as a three-year project funded by the European Commission. START2ACT aims to reduce residential energy consumption in the EU by changing the behaviour of employees of start-ups and young SMEs, by introducing energy efficiency measures within their daily routines.
In the first phase of the project CentERdata conducted a literature review, an expert session and a survey to investigate motivations and needs of startups and SMEs. The results will be used to input into the training and mentoring programmes that are currently developed and will be launched in Spring 2017. The survey was carried out from August to November 2016, in Poland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the UK.
The survey showed that the most important drivers for energy efficiency are reduction of energy bills, contributing to the fight against climate change and improved product quality (See graph below).
Many companies have implemented at least one energy-saving measure and on average three, such as installing more efficient lighting or equipment. Respondents perceive themselves as quite pro-environmental. Although companies seem to be willing to contribute to the fight against climate change, price is the most important consideration when purchasing new appliances. Moreover, startups consider energy efficiency to be less of a priority and also lack time to gather information around energy efficiency. SMEs think that energy efficiency will not strengthen their position in the market. In addition, respondents also place some responsibility for climate issues on others, such as researchers. An attitude-behaviour gap could be present: People say that they consider energy efficiency important, but it is not guaranteed that they put these considerations into action. This topic will be further investigated via monitoring surveys which will accompany the training and mentoring programmes.
All findings of the START2ACT survey can be found in the Baseline Assessment Report.
Optimisation of training and mentoring
The results of the expert session provided valuable input and recommendations for the training and mentoring programmes.
The experts agree that it is of key importance that the training and mentoring sessions on energy efficiency are relevant to startups or young SMEs, closely aligned with personal and company motivations. Companies can be assisted on the importance of energy efficiency by incorporating long term goals and aspirations on energy efficiency into the current company vision and DNA. As soon as the company starts to grow, this core identity will help in making the right – energy conscious – decisions in the future.
It is also recommended to introduce easy-to-implement measures to startups and young SMEs, such as apps or checklists on energy savings, as these will save time for small businesses and do not require additional monetary investment. “Easy-to-use” web-based tools and advice are an important way for companies to receive support on energy efficiency.
Moreover, as many individuals are not aware of their current footprint it would be helpful to create awareness regarding their current behaviour and how green one actually is and on which aspects one can improve. Educational campaigns in combination with providing feedback might increase employees’ knowledge.
Conclusions on the mentoring and training activities can be found in the report on optimisation of mentoring and training.