Success Story: Southern Oklahoma Technology Center

Mike Graham coordinates many of the programs undertaken at Southern Oklahoma Technology Center and, as an energy manager, one of his most recent was establishing a successful 20x2020 campaign. Mike understood that collaborating with SOTC staff was vital to the program’s success, so he spoke with the superintendent early and frequently to help create a clear plan for the organization. He held an initial program launch in late July, and he focused on meeting with the staff often to, as he put it, “ease them into the program.”

After he introduced the 20x2020 program and explained how it affects their organization, Mike worked on a set of behavioral guidelines for SOTC to follow. The process of reviewing and adopting guidelines helped him and the superintendent decide what course they would like to take to engage the employees. They soon found that a team approach in program implementation was a good way to gain people’s participation. Not only do employees turn off lights and equipment when they leave their areas now, but many employees put up their own stickers on light switches and computer monitors to remind everyone to do their part. According to Mike, this has paid off greatly. As he and the custodial staff do their building walkthroughs, they can see that almost everyone is participating.

Along with implementing the guidelines, Mike wanted to help raise personal awareness about energy use. As recommended by ES2, he issued a Plug Load Inventory to the entire campus. While the response rate was not 100%, he stated that it did open his eyes to how much equipment is plugged in daily and in what buildings. He reviews the data in conjunction with the walkthroughs to aid him in crafting the program and plans to give it a personal touch by visiting with the individuals who disclosed their personal space heaters. He believes this will allow him to have a better sense of what needs to be done comfort-wise and hopes it will increase the dialogue between him and the occupants while decreasing the number of complaints that might come his way. Mike believes most people in his organization realize this is “a common sense program”. This allows him to work with the occupants and guide them throughout the process instead of working against them and losing their support.

Success Story: Western Oklahoma State College

Western Oklahoma State College’s mascot is “The Pioneers,” and that mentality is certainly not lost on its employees. Since the inception of their 20x2020 program, an attitude of pushing forward has driven them towards success. When news of the program launch came across Tricia Latham’s desk earlier this year, she made the important decision to keep her executive team both involved and informed. With the support of the president to “Do it right,” she immediately enlisted the help of Doyle Jencks, WOSC’s Director of Physical Plant, and Jimmy Poe, who now has an updated job title of “Safety and Security Coordinator and Energy Manager” to reflect his adjusted responsibilities. Jimmy and the rest of the WOSC team have not only become another organization to enter all historical utility data into EnergyCAP and begin adapting energy conservation guidelines, but they are also one of the first to complete a plug load inventory.

They decided to issue a plug load inventory survey, which documents how many devices are typically plugged in at their campus throughout the day, after receiving an email from ES2’s Director of Energy Solutions, Temur Akhmedov. While expecting some people to possibly ignore or forget about the survey, they were pleasantly surprised to find that over 90% of them were returned fully completed. This survey not only gathered crucial information they could act on, but also created more attention for the program. This effort was further strengthened by an email the president issued stressing the importance of the program to the college.

All three WOSC employees recommend that organizations be transparent and inclusive as they go through the process of implementing the new program. By including the faculty and staff, even with just 15-minute presentations and discussions, they have been able to garner the support of nearly the entire campus. “We don’t intimidate people,” Doyle said, and it seems to have worked. Their interactions with building occupants and the results from the plug load inventory have allowed them to have a clearer direction in crafting their behavioral guidelines, which Jimmy plans to have ready for their stakeholders to review by the end of October.

Their advice for other organizations is to simply include everyone. “You can’t just say 'Here’s our energy person’ and dump it into their lap,” according to Jencks. “Everyone has to find a little bit of time to help with all of the projects that we have.” As Tricia put it, “Everyone realizes that this is a team effort.” It would seem that the other Pioneers agree.

Success Story: Connors State College

Connors State College has officially launched their 20x2020 program, called “Cowboys Conserve,” to coincide with the start of the school year and have made great progress plus already implemented several initiatives.

Michelle Boyd, who is the Budget and Contracts Agent and newly appointed Energy Manager, had been on leave when the 20x2020 program officially launched. With the new responsibilities she started filling out infrastructure information in late May of this year, but said that everyone involved in the program has been very understanding and willing to help. She points out that the best thing to do when you aren’t sure is to just ask for help. “I felt like my questions or problems were unique”, she said, “but they probably weren’t. So ask.”

Fast forward to September and Michelle says that the total support of the Connors State leadership has been crucial and has allowed her and Controller Kim Ryals (20x2020 POC) to launch several initiatives in support of their new program. Michelle explained that, “Now I see the end goal and I am mapping a way to get there.”

Connors State has already made great strides in implementing that map in recent months. Michelle worked with her communications department to create an image and motto for their program that incorporates the school logo, and they announced the new program to faculty and staff at last month’s in-service. They have asked each department to count their current plug load to help them discover opportunities for conservation.

The college has also recently launched an exciting energy reduction competition that will award each faculty and staff member a fleece jacket with the new “Cowboys Conserve” logo after they earn four “green tickets”. These tickets are handed out during building walkthroughs to those people who are taking ownership of the program in their areas and promoting the values of the 20x2020 program. This particular incentive harnesses two key principles of social psychology, in addition to keeping people warm when the thermostat is set back this winter.  The jacket winners should feel more committed to the program after choosing to wear the jacket and the trend of the new jackets on campus will create a sense of energy conservation being the social norm.

For now, Michelle continues to focus on getting Connors State’s background data entered into EnergyCAP in advance of the Oct. 1 deadline.  She is also working to implement everything she can to get their program fully launched before next year’s busy budget season. That seems to be working, as she notes that multiple people have already approached her and proudly described what part they are taking to reduce their usage on campus.