Step 3: Establish a transport energy policy
In a nutshell
A transport energy policy defines what you are trying to achieve through transport energy management and how you will achieve it. It is the driver behind the actions you take. More than that, it shows the commitment of top management to Energy MAP. As a formal document it spells out your targets for improvement and how they enhance you wider aims.
Why does this step matter?
Without a formal written policy you have no clear record of any agreed aims or guidelines. It would be difficult for you to obtain the same level of support, or maintain the same commitment, as you could with a policy endorsed at the highest level. Other commitments will almost certainly take priority over tasks not seen as a core activity.
A good energy policy is a working document for all to follow. It details the activities it covers, the resources made available, the responsibilities, targets and timescales. As a formal record the policy also provides continuity in the event of changes to key staff or related activities.
What to do and how to do it?
If a company transport policy does not already exist; Start by putting together a draft document for discussion with those most likely to have responsibilities or close involvement in Transport.
Tip: look for existing vehicle usage guidelines which may be safety or human resources related. For car fleets, look for travel & expense policies, company car purchase guidelines, and fuel card use guidelines.
This is a task for the Energy Manager, although if you already have a transport team or committee then they might also contribute. Get their initial ideas and suggestions for inclusion.
- Check for any existing policies. An environmental policy or quality management system might already make some reference to transport energy management. This can be separated or expanded upon.
- Give interested parties – including drivers - the opportunity of involvement right from the start. They are more likely to feel ownership for the final policy.
- Use the Guide: Drafting an Energy Policy, or take a look at other companies' policies to see if they might be suitable for you to adapt.
- Decide on the purpose of the document. If you plan to make the policy available to the public you might want to have a separate part for any commercially sensitive details. Otherwise, try to include actions and targets that are as specific as possible.
- Keep things in proportion - the goals and the resources you declare will have to be realistic in the wider business context. You are aiming to enhance rather than detract from your core business.
- Confirm the fleet, vehicles, sites, people and processes you need to cover. That should include all that have a significant effect on energy use.
Circulate the draft policy to the key managers, representatives and others with a vested interest. Allow a reasonable period for consultation and redrafting to gain acceptance and support for the content. At the same time, don't let the process stall because of delays at this stage.
Tip: Keep the whole organisation informed of progress. Avoid letting people feel they are just getting another task imposed on them. This can be done by giving them the opportunity to submit ideas and comments.
Make sure that the policy covers all the key areas:
- Statement of commitment
- Aims, objectives and targets
- Responsibilities and duties within the organisational structure
- Resources to be applied
- Reporting and communication procedures
- Action plan
- Review process
Further guidance is given in IS393 which requires top management to ensure that the energy policy:
- Is appropriate to the nature, scale, and impact of the organisation's energy use,
- Includes a commitment to continual improvement in the form of improved energy efficiency,
- Provides the framework for setting and reviewing energy objectives and targets,
- Includes a commitment to comply with relevant legislation with respect to energy,
- Is documented, implemented, maintained and communicated to all persons working for and on behalf of the organization,
- Is available to the public - in curtailed form if preferred.
You can find a sample policy in GIR12 (reference below), along with some more advice on energy policies.
Following the consultation phase you'll have to get the policy endorsed by top management. This is essential to the success of the policy. It is the only means you have of showing this level of commitment.
You will then have copies of the document signed by a member of the board, or equivalent, for publication and circulation to relevant parties.
With the document endorsed you are ready to launch the policy. Step 4 explains how best to Communicate it to all employees. Until then the policy is established as a working document but is yet to become part of day to day working practice.
Remember that the policy is a live document. You'll have to review and update it from time to time. Step 5 covers the review process for Energy MAP including policy.
IS393 Energy Management Systems; section 4.2 Energy Policy. NSAI
General Information Report GIR12 Organisational aspects of energy management; section 4 energy Policy; section 11 Sample energy policy. The Carbon Trust. UK
Possible problems and how to deal with them
You might not have many specific actions to include in your plan at this stage. If that's the case then put in a commitment to identify potential projects.
Getting a commitment to targets for continuous improvement can also be difficult. Recognise the likely constraints, always seek agreement, but don't let this aspect be left out.
Highlight any additional resources, training or marketing that you believe are essential to the success of the policy.
How long does it take to complete this step?
You can draft a simple policy document in a few days. If you then need to get agreement to declared resources, targets and responsibilities this might take some weeks.
As a working document, the policy remains live so you'll have to update it, at least annually. The updates can be part of the routine review process (see Step 5).
How do I know when I have completed this step?
You have completed this step when you have an energy policy document, agreed and endorsed by top management. If it is signed by the managing director, chief executive or equivalent, then that's even better.
What do I do next?
The Energy Policy is in itself an action plan. Communicate the plan to all staff and then go ahead with its implementation. Click here to go directly to Step 4 .