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HOW TO EAT AN ELEPHANT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

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“How do you eat an elephant?” 

In the words of the familiar trope, “One bite at a time.”

“Eating an Elephant” was the theme for a workshop presented by 360 Energy at the University of Toronto international Sustainability Conference in October. 360 Energy was chosen as a workshop presenter to showcase its unique expertise in energy management coaching of multi-disciplinary teams in corporate settings. 

Ms. Jennifer Niece, Director, Sustainability and Client Services and Ms. Julie Kee, Account Manager likened implementing corporate sustainability as being akin to eating an elephant. It is a large and complex process that can only be undertaken one bite size piece at a time. 

Niece and Kee told workshop participants that any company or organization wanting to implement an effective sustainability program must learn how to manage their energy use. Using energy more productively is a foundational requirement for any sustainability initiative and requires an organization-wide commitment, Jennifer Niece told delegates. 

 “The workshop was an opportunity for us to show conference delegates the tangible measures they could take, how to best prioritize actions, how to calculate the emissions and report cost savings from their energy actions,” Niece said.  

The University of Toronto conference welcomed delegates and experts from around the world. The program melded academic research and theory with real-world practice.  In keeping with the purpose of the conference, Niece and Kee described the unique “Participant Action Research” (PAR) model used by 360 Energy. It is an energy management program built on employee engagement in the workplace. As the workshop demonstrated, a method built on solid academic research can have an impact when appropriately applied in real-life situations.  

In Participant Action Research, people learn how to make change or take actions that will improve their community, neighbourhood or workplace. When used in a company setting, PAR can be particularly effective in improving corporate practices, procedures or strategies. Corporate continuous improvement initiatives frequently rely on some form of PAR to imbed changes in company culture. 

The 360 Energy Coach program makes use of the specialized knowledge held by a variety of people in their organization. Employees are guided through a process of inquiry and research to understand how their organization uses energy. They make energy efficiency and cost reduction actions based on what they’ve learned.  Data are gathered, evaluated and shared. The lessons employees learn, empower and motivate them to seek further success. 

“Strong savings in energy can be the catalyst to launch broader sustainability planning. Energy management is not a one-time project,” explains Julie Kee.

As Niece and Kee put it to the conference, managing energy and sustainability is well worth the effort – one bite at a time. 


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