ESB: Sustainability Awards Scheme

Business in the Community Ireland

Company Description:
ESB is Ireland’s leading energy utility. Established over 80 years ago, our success is founded on the principles of delivering value-for-money energy to end-users, managing critical national energy infrastructure in a responsible and efficient way and working with stakeholders and communities throughout the country to ensure we understand their needs.

ESB is committed to meeting society’s need for energy in a responsible and sustainable manner. ESB operates and invests in energy solutions that support sustainable development – economically, environmentally and socially.

Business Issue:
ESB’s Strategic Framework sets out a clear sustainable vision for the company – a 30% reduction in carbon from our generation and networks assets by 2012 and a 50% reduction by 2020 on our way to becoming net-carbon neutral by 2035. It also commits ESB to becoming the leading company in Ireland in sustainability.

The delivery of these targets involves the commitment and contribution of all staff. The Framework is about achieving real culture change as well as technical solutions. The Programme is focused on maximising staff engagement and ensuring the principles of sustainability are deeply embedded.

Solution Applied:
The 2010 Sustainability Awards Scheme was developed to facilitate involvement from all parts of ESB to engage with our new strategy and vision in a fun yet competitive way.
It sought to appeal to the strong competitive and proud aspects of the ESB persona and to recognise contribution and achievement transparently.
It focused on continuous improvement in the pursuit of sustainability excellence in delivering real business benefits.

Company Benefits:
There was an outstanding response to our inaugural Sustainability Awards Scheme with over 200 entries received.

The level of enthusiasm and support for the sustainability agenda and spirit of innovation demonstrated was very encouraging. The internal panel of judges announced the short-listed 18 entrants during Sustainability Week.

The winners were chosen by a panel including broadcaster and environmentalist, Duncan Stewart and Richard Browne from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

The 2010 Sustainability Awards have been so successful and generated such positive feedback that we are now in the process of developing a parallel Monthly Sustainability Awards Scheme, to facilitate highlighting initiatives continuously. The 2010 Awards have proven to be a useful vehicle for knowledge-sharing as well as profiling teams and individuals working on the sustainability agenda.

Stakeholder Benefits:
ESB staff were regarded as the primary stakeholders of the scheme. With so many different businesses it can be a challenge to find “common ground” subjects to share real insights and learning.

The Sustainability agenda has the advantage of being a topic where meaningful knowledge-sharing can take place, and the Awards Scheme was an opportunity for teams and individuals to showcase their efforts.

Ensuring potential entrants would be encouraged by local management to participate.

Ensuring entrants understood what aspects of sustainable behaviour and activity the judging panels were trying to examine.

Senior management support for the Awards Scheme was critical to ensuring it got widespread early buy-in.

The Programme Team actively supported people throughout the entry process, and this encouraged others to participate. Following the success of the 2010 Sustainability Awards, it was decided to expland the Awards to include a bi-monthly Award. These [“]rolling[”] Awards have proved very successful in maintaining focus on best practice and encouraging staff at the leading edge of sustainable working. We launched the 2011 Awards in March 2011 and have been very pleased to have increased the number of entries in this, the second year of the competition to over 230. Once again, the standard of entry is very high, and we will be announcing our winners during our Sustainability Week in October.

Departments Involved:
Sustainability Directorate, small cross-functional team based in ESB Corporate Centre.

Solution Champion:
John Campion, Executive Director, Sustainability

ESB Website: