This blog is to introduce the research I am doing.  This research came about after a recent survey, undertaken by Energy Cultures into small and medium businesses in New Zealand, identified (among other things) that many small business owners would not be interested in changing the way they use energy even if they would not only save money but also if they would get paid for it.

This discovery challenges what many of us assume to be rational, which in turn raised a fascinating question; why do small business owners in New Zealand not engage in energy efficient practices even if they would save and/or make money to do so?

Perhaps the first issue is that most small businesses in New Zealand are very small. There are no paid employees other than the business owner in 69% of all businesses in New Zealand. In fact, 97% of businesses in New Zealand are SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprise) with 20 employees or less.  The graph below shows just how startling a contrast there is between the majority of companies in NZ and the largest 0.4% which employ almost half of the work force.

Angela blog graph









Number of businesses compared to number of employees by company size

When we understand that most of the SMEs in NZ are sole trader owner operator, we can start to get a sense of the type of challenges that may face these business people in their everyday working lives.  It is unlikely that energy efficiency will be priority unless these business owners are:

  • Aware of the actual energy spend and
  • Consider it to be a significant cost and
  • Can spare the time and effort to look at reducing it.

So in a nutshell, the sheer number of SMEs in New Zealand means that they are an important group of businesses to address if we are serious about improving our energy efficiency. However, these organisations vary from each other so vastly, and the channels available to engage them are so diverse.

So what will it take? Could it be Government policy or legislation, adding yet more compliance burden to the owner managers’ daily grind?  Elected governments around the world are reluctant to implement policy which may be unpopular – remember the Carbon Tax in Australia? It was great for the planet but not so popular with voters. Could it be cost and availability of energy? At the start of 2015, oil prices are plummeting and seemingly electricity supply is exceeding demand.  Could it be pressure from customers that finally encourage them to become greener? Although many of us, end users and businesses alike, have intentions to shop ‘green’, these intentions often fall by the wayside when evaluating priorities such as cost and speed of service or delivery. Or consumers simply ‘forget’ certain values at time of purchase. My research aims to consider what triggers would be most conducive for change.Angela Howell photo

If you are a business owner or know a business owner who would be prepared to be interviewed for this research  please let me know

Angela Howell or 03 479 8509.

I would love to hear from you.