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Engagement of small- to medium-sized enterprises in energy efficiency in Australia: a review of the facilitative walkthrough approach

Killick, Winnie (2009) Engagement of small- to medium-sized enterprises in energy efficiency in Australia: a review of the facilitative walkthrough approach. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Although greenhouse gas emissions from each small business are usually relatively small, the collective emissions from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are significant due to their relatively large numbers. A number of different approaches have been used for assisting SMEs in making energy efficiency improvements in recent years. Some of these are more successful than others in instigating actions, but a lack of reporting and measuring standards make it difficult to assess their relative effectiveness.

In 2007-8, the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council reported great success with its Climate Actions project which engaged SMEs using the Facilitative Walkthrough Approach (FWA). This dissertation is a review of the FWA to ascertain how effective it was in instigating energy efficiency changes in the target businesses. As part of the research, major barriers facing SMEs and the common approaches of engagement were identified. A set of ‘universal’ Indicators of Success was developed to aid the objective evaluation of the FWA.

The research found that the FWA, as implemented in the Climate Actions project, was very effective in instigating behavioural, low- to medium-cost technology and cultural changes in the surveyed SMEs. However, the micro- to small-SMEs were reluctant to make high-cost technology changes as the cost barrier remained a major impediment. Facilitation and relationship building were instrumental in bringing about technology and cultural changes, whereas the face-to-face conversations and walkthrough audit were important strategies, which worked in tandem to break down the barriers to behavioural changes.

With some modification, or a shift in the emphasis in strategy implementation, the FWA can be easily adapted to other audiences. An adapted FWA can be applied to a large business or to the residential sector. New combinations of certain successful strategies may also be used in future projects.

With the long-awaited government policy focus again shifted toward business energy efficiency, the time has come for the development of really effective programs to assist this hard-to-reach sector. Objective evaluation of the various approaches and the identification of successful strategies will help to achieve this aim, and ensure that public money and efforts are well spent, by applying them to the most promising initiatives and approaches.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Energy
Supervisor(s): Jennings, Philip
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