Energy Awareness and Environmental Sustainability

Individual people and entire organizations are not likely to actively preserve energy or in general act in an environmental friendly way, unless they are aware of the issue and its problems. But what does being aware mean? Even though there are many sophisticated definitions of awareness, just in the field of psychology for example, referring to consciousness, the Oxford Dictionary (fourth edition) offers a simple but very useful definition. It states that being aware means having knowledge or realizing something; being well informed or interested in something. In case of energy awareness, it means that someone has knowledge about energy itself, its constitution and properties as well as being informed about ways to reduce energy consumption. Further, the single person needs to realize the importance of energy conservation and should be motivated to act accordingly. Partanen-Hertell et al. [4] defines energy/environmental awareness as a combination of motivation, knowledge, and skills.

According to Wong [5], awareness is the seed for tomorrow's changes, suggesting that the first step to promote energy saving is to raise its awareness. Many other researchers agree that energy awareness is highly significant for energy conservation programs [5-7] and further state that it is the most successful measure to motivate employees to conserve energy [8]. However, many organizations and their managers remain skeptical of human centered approaches, prefer technological solutions and therefore do not consider nor implement programs to raise energy awareness. Because managers often lack knowledge about the effectiveness of awareness programs, employees cannot become aware of the issue, which is one reason for energy inefficiency. This situation highlights the need for information about energy and awareness programs even further, leading to the overall goal to integrate energy or even better all environmental issues into professional as well as everyday life to promote sustainability and its advantages [4] .

Saunders defines environmental sustainability as a relational term, which describes a '... viable and harmonious relationships between humans and nature over long periods of time ' [9] . This means that the term includes any concerns regarding the quality of life for humans and other species as well as the quality of the human-nature relationship itself. For example, energy conservation but also CO2 emissions, water pollution, the preservation of any animal and other species as well as the well-being of all humans throughout the entire world, sum up to a very complex subject to be managed. The integration of environmental sustainability into an organization' s structure and management is therefore an immense burden on traditionally isolated departments and functions. An improvement of co .ordination and integration of corporate structures becomes necessary for a holistic organizational environmental sustainability culture to be successful.

Nevertheless, environmental sustainability or the smaller scaled energy management '... should not be seen as an additional cost for companies, but as an opportunity to improve competitiveness in a win-win logic' [ 10] . Advantages of the integration of sustainability into business are:

• increased efficiency in the use ofresources;

• development of new markets;

• improved corporate image;

• product differentiation and enhanced competitive advantage.

A first step for an integrated environmental sustainability management with its benefits is the raising of awareness because without being aware of such issues, there will not be any relevant behavior change and actions taken.

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