Power Smart awards recognize energy efficiency efforts

Nina Winham

Getting recognized for business leadership means more than just getting a pat on the back. It's a powerful form of brand value that has lasting impact on key stakeholders, especially when those same stakeholders are the ones who helped win the award.

That's part of the principle behind BC Hydro's annual Power Smart Excellence Awards, a program that's now entering its eighth successful year.

"This is recognition for our business customers who have made significant strides in energy efficiency," says Cathy Duncan, program manager for the awards. "We know for sure it matters to them. They gain paid and earned advertising for doing really good work. Past winners have told us they absolutely love it."

Call for nominations: Workplace Conservation Leadership

Anyone who has worked in a group knows there are two kinds of leaders: those who are officially in charge of a task, and those who simply help make it happen.

If your energy efficiency program has been buoyed by the talents of some of those "natural leaders", the Workplace Conservation Leadership award is one you should consider.

The award is aimed at individuals or team members who have become true "conservation ambassadors." They've been involved with the development of an employee-based energy conservation campaign despite the fact that their respective role within the organization is not primarily energy management – they're supporting the cause "off the side of their desk."

Despite not being in charge, their ongoing efforts to educate and encourage others have made a difference, and have brought about lasting conservation behaviours within their organization.

If your company has one of these unsung energy heroes (or a team of them) – check out the nomination form for the Power Smart Workplace Conservation Leadership award. Nominees must be an existing BC Hydro customer and are required to be an employee or employees of the organization under whose name they are nominated (i.e., consultants are not eligible for nomination). Nominations are open now and close April 30.

Profile and prestige

Power Smart Excellence Award recipients are recognized in Power of Business magazine, produced and widely distributed by BC Hydro, as well as in a variety of news releases and advertising placements. BC Hydro also helps them get the word out themselves.

"We produce an on-line toolkit so Power Smart Excellence Award recipients can self-promote to their community and their employees," says Duncan. "It includes everything from how to tell your CEO you've won, to engaging other individuals in the organization.

"For companies serious about improving their bottom line through energy efficiency, the engagement boost gained from being recognized can pay off. Lots of conservation programs are based on behaviour change – they're not all about changes in technology," she says. "So the recognition helps continue that process of shifting behaviour over time."

Duncan says BC Hydro supports the awards in part to encourage individual companies and the business community as a whole. But she says the impact goes even further.

"It's not just engagement for employees, the organization and the executive level – it's the whole community," she says, adding that BC Hydro's larger goal is to stimulate the shift towards a conservation culture in B.C. "It's a viral effect we're trying to create."

Many categories

There's a wide variety of Power Smart awards, ranging from Energy Conservation Commitment, for a company that has made a corporate commitment to energy conservation, to Energy Manager, for individuals who are leading their company's conservation efforts. There are awards for new construction, new technology, and specialty awards for retailers, consumer product manufacturers, builder/developers, and more.

This year the program includes a new category for sustainable communities, for which local governments are eligible.

Most awards require nomination from within BC Hydro – the key account managers and project managers who know the details of companies' efforts. However, there is one award for which companies are encouraged to submit their own nominations: the Workplace Conservation Leadership award.

One big three-day event

This year's Power Smart Excellence Awards ceremony will be merged with the annual Power Smart Forum to be held October 25-27 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This means the attention paid to award winners will come not only from within a circle of peers, but also the wider community who are there to learn about energy efficiency from those who are leading the way.

Duncan says she expects this will help the awards program, which is now eight years old, continue to grow.

"Last year we had 29 finalists and about double that many nominations," she says. "Amalgamated with the Power Smart Forum, we're going to have even more momentum, which is great. It helps keep moving the bar higher on energy efficiency, building a conservation culture, and the payoffs that are there for companies that take the lead.

"When people in the business community see the attendance, the exposure, and the event – it's a real motivator for them."

For more information about the Workplace Conservation Leadership Award or the Power Smart Excellence Awards in general, please consult the BC Hydro website, or contact your Key Account Manager.