Last month, this newsletter’s featured article was about how to sell energy or sustainability projects internally, to explain the value of a proposed project to the decision makers and get them to say yes. It got a lot of clicks (Thank you!), and I hope it gave you some good ideas to apply at your organization. With that in mind, I present more approaches and strategies to communicate the value of such projects. Much of this material derives from academic research conducted by Ann Dale and Rob Newell of Royal Roads University in Meeting the Climate Change Challenge (www.mc-3.ca).
Here they provide additional tips (with some interpretation from me) to help anybody communicate the need and benefits of performing energy and sustainability projects.
1. A picture is worth a thousand words
As discussed last month, it is critical to communicate the total value and benefits of a proposed project. While we engineers and scientists like to use numbers to express this, visual images could more effectively show (non-technical) decision makers the benefits of a proposed energy or sustainability project.
Visualization might include showing maps of where a company’s properties or manufacturing centers are located contrasted to nearest energy sources or water availability, etc., potentially demonstrating the future shortage or high cost of obtaining such resources. A map may be able to show vulnerable properties near bodies of water or in flood zones, demonstrating how they may be vulnerable to severe weather. Another example is showing pictures of transportation routes to and from key facilities and how vulnerable they may be to hurricanes, flooding, fires, and other disasters. For a municipality, a map can show vulnerable areas that would potentially need more resources unless preventive infrastructure upgrades can be implemented.
2. Demonstrate that your proposed project will benefit many departments
It is natural to focus the selling of a potential project on the benefits to one’s own group (after all, that’s what we focus our time) and/or the overall organization. However, it is also more effective to list specific benefits for other departments and how it may help them solve their problems. Remember, in the example I gave last month, I cited how efficient lighting will save a municipality significant costs (making the Treasurer happy), free maintenance workers to do other tasks (pleasing Public Works), and make downtown more inviting for people to shop and spend money (make the Mayor happy). Senior managers like to be able to solve multiple problems at once. Who wouldn’t like a project that can assist in addressing multiple problems and facilitate progress?
3. Success requires collaboration, which breeds more innovation
Sustainability and energy conservation are unique in that it takes many different skills for a program to work. No single expert or group has all the solutions for sustainability. Multiple specialties, such as engineering (electrical, mechanical, environmental, energy), legal, financial, product development, marketing, and social, must work as a team to accomplish all of the goals reliably. Sharing of multiple talents across departments and specialists outside the organization spurs innovation and success.
4. Look inward for valuable information
Some of the best sources of information about how a facility operates and how they can benefit are from those that work there. Yes, managers and directors. But also, “blue-collar” staff employees have valuable ideas, working there every day. I have worked on many environmental and energy projects where plant employees and Admins. have given me valuable information about the workings of the plant, office, etc. that was unknown to managers. Explaining to them your ideas to save the organization money or improve flexibility and sustainability will likely motivate them to provide such information to you and can provide additional benefits to work performance to share with managers.
5. Phrase such proposed project as “Win-Win” opportunities and as real
With all of this, there may still be skepticism among decision makers for sustainability and energy projects because they were not taught about this in school and/or have never faced an energy “crisis”. While this project may be proposed to avoid a crisis, the decision maker may not have served during an actual crisis, such as the Oil Embargo of the late 1970’s, to fully appreciate the impacts. Therefore, it is important to point out the implications and the risks involved in either not performing the project or doing so while “cutting corners.” Numerical estimates of potential money, prestige, markets, etc. lost by not performing the project at all or properly should be researched and included.
Decision makers sometimes fear being the “guinea pig.” Therefore, it is a good idea to document similar projects done by other organizations, including competitors, enabling the decision makers to realize this is not theoretical material, but real science that has worked in the “real world” and has benefited others.
CCES can help you or your group prepare proposals and presentations concerning energy, sustainability, and environmental projects for internal review and approval, highlighting the many and specific values that it can give your entity. And, of course, we can manage and implement the projects, too, to achieve those savings and benefits. We are here to help you succeed and meet your goals! Contact us today at karell@CCESworld.com or at 914-584-6720.