Stories & Features

How to organize an energy treasure hunt in 6 steps

Nestle waters plant at Hope, B.C.
Shane Veenstra of Nestlé Waters talks to industrial energy expert Michael Deane of CLEAResult during an energy treasure hunt at the company’s bottling plant in Hope, B.C.

Involving employees in energy-saving strategies sparks interest, ownership

In a busy workplace, saving energy is tough to prioritize. Energy treasure hunts are one of the best ways to rally your coworkers around energy conservation. The events are a great way to engage employees around the common cause of caring for the environment and enhancing workplace morale while optimizing operations.

We asked industrial energy conservation experts from Cascade Energy, CLEAResult and Prism Engineering to share a list of tips for carrying out an energy treasure hunt in an industrial facility.

Here's their six-step program:

Before you begin

While some energy treasure hunts involve small groups who take a technical deep dive, others are broader in scope and engage a large numbers of employees. Before you begin, consider which approach will resonate most with your employees and then commit to a timeframe.

Depending on your objectives, an energy treasure hunt can take as long as one week to complete, or wrap-up in a day. For the strongest benefits, organize an energy treasure hunt at least twice a year.

Step 1 – Assemble an energy treasure hunt team and set a date for the hunt

  • Your energy treasure hunt team should be made up of 4-10 team members who have good knowledge of your facility's operations
  • The size of your treasure hunt team will depend upon your company culture, as well as the objectives of your treasure hunt
  • Team members should be willing and able to offer ideas for creating a more efficient plant (e.g., maintenance and electrical personnel)
  • Support from the leadership team is important and will help drive change onsite
  • Set a date, book a meeting room, and inform the treasure hunt team of the event date(s)

Step 2 – Establish goals and prepare the day's agenda

  • Ahead of the hunt, solicit ideas for operational efficiencies/improvements from employees via a suggestion box
  • Before the treasure hunt team meets, review suggestion box submissions
  • Establish your goals (i.e., identify the quickest wins among low-cost operational improvements)
  • List potential focus areas for your treasure hunt (i.e., compressed air machines, staff lunch room lighting); complete a process map of your site
  • Identify which processes and equipment use the most energy by allocating each piece of equipment to a process stage
  • Think about the equipment you'll need to complete the energy treasure hunt (i.e., an ultrasonic leak detector, a leak tag kit, thermal camera/gun)
  • Consider inviting machinery and equipment vendors to participate in the treasure hunt to help find inefficiencies in their areas of expertise

Step 3 – Complete your on-site energy treasure hunt

  • That morning, invite a member of the leadership team to help kick-off the hunt; ask them to share the treasure hunt's goals
  • Ask the treasure hunt team to follow the process map from beginning to end; invite them to spot and discuss opportunities to save energy along the way
  • Talk to each process owner to find out important operational information; collect any ideas that they have that will help save energy
  • Discuss opportunities among the team, and record the opportunities as you go in an "opportunities register"
  • Group your opportunities register into two categories: no- and low-cost energy efficiency opportunities and potential capital projects

Step 4 – Prioritize your list of no- and low-cost energy efficiency opportunities

  • After the energy treasure hunt, gather in a meeting room
  • Organize your list of no- and low-cost efficiency opportunities based on their savings potential (low to high) vs. effort or cost required (low to high)
  • Opportunities with high savings potential and low effort or cost should be done first (i.e., compressed air leaks identified with leak tags)
  • Assign tasks, fixes, or other measures to treasure hunt team members or facilities and maintenance staff; assign a due date
  • Mark items in the opportunities register as complete; log the date, once the job is resolved

Step 5 – Consider the energy saving potential of capital projects and if they're eligible for incentives

  • Consider how you'll discuss potential capital projects with key stakeholders (i.e., senior management, key account manager, regional energy manager)
  • With stakeholder support, identify the next steps for each capital project and if the project is eligible for a financial incentive from BC Hydro
  • Assign tasks, fixes, or other measures to treasure hunt team members or facilities and maintenance staff; assign a due date
  • Record results and project status in the opportunities register; log the date, once the job is resolved

Step 6 – Meet regularly with the energy treasure hunt team to go over the opportunities register

  • The opportunity register is a live file that can and should be added to as opportunities arise
  • Meet regularly with members of the treasure hunt team to go over the progress of opportunities in the register and to review energy saving results
  • Celebrate the team's achievements; communicate savings results to senior management and other employees (e.g., newsletter announcement).