Addressing the Rebound Effect

On July 18, 2019, in News, Slideshow-Homepage, by Ashkin Group

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Today, as more jansan and facility management organizations operate more sustainability, some are experiencing what is known as the “rebound effect.”

“When organizations adopt sustainability initiatives, they often find their operating costs go down,” says Katrina Saucier, with Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC., a technology that helps organizations measure and monitor energy, fuel, water, and other resources to help reduce costs.

“But sometimes these organizations take their [cost] savings and either use more energy or spend the money saved on items that increase their environmental footprint. This is called the ‘rebound effect.'”

Saucier offers these examples:

  • Building administrators that had turned down the winter thermostat to save energy, now turn it up because the building has been insulated
  • Distributors that were streamlining customer deliveries to reduce fuel consumption, now eliminate those initiatives because they have transferred to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“While research on the rebound effect is patchy, it does not appear to cancel out all the sustainability good that has been accomplished,” adds Saucier.  “Some studies indicate [that] for every two steps forward organizations take, some take one step backward.”

So how can distributors, property management companies, and other organizations prevent the rebound effect?  Saucier suggests the following:

 Communicate: Distributors need to communicate to their staff that many large corporations now select vendors based on their sustainability initiatives and ability to reduce their environmental footprint. “In other words, sustainability opens the doors of opportunity.”

 Engage. Employers must be able to convey their sustainability accomplishments to their customers and staff. “Frequently, what are termed ‘engagement tools’ are installed in facilities to convey this information. These monitors provide sustainability information in easy to understand terms.”

Publicize. Sustainability efforts are not just for customers and staff to know about. “We encourage our clients to publicize their efforts.  Letting their communities and industries know about their sustainability efforts increases the momentum.”

This last point is crucial,” she adds. “As more people hear about a company’s sustainability efforts, employees often look for new ways to increase the company’s sustainability efforts.  This helps put a lid on the rebound effect for good.”

About Stephen Ashkin and The Ashkin Group

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in Greening the cleaning industry, and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which helps facilities monitor and measure their use of natural resources.  He is known as the “father of Green Cleaning” and the professional cleaning industries leading advocate promoting sustainability.  He is also coauthor of both The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies


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