W+K launches Off-On project

Wieden + Kennedy in London has developed a new energy-saving project in an attempt to reduce the agency’s consumption and in turn provide a children’s home in Nairobi with solar power…

Wieden + Kennedy in London has developed a new energy-saving project in an attempt to reduce the agency’s consumption and in turn provide a children’s home in Nairobi with solar power…


The project, titled Off-On, is simple. Screensavers and LED floor displays will show W+K employees how much energy they’re using in real time. These will hopefully prompt staff to reduce their consumption, and these savings will then be translated into benefits given to the school in Nairobi. The arrangement with the school has been set up via a partnership with NGO SolarAid – if W+K can reduce the office’s energy consumption by 10% over the year, it will save enough money to light up four classrooms and a kitchen at the school with solar panels.

The idea is an extension of the energy monitors that many of us have at home, but uses technology that has been designed for the workplace in conjunction with engineers at Pell Frischmann (with the coding for the project done in-house at W+K). “Energy monitors really do change your behaviour at home,” says Sophie Dollar, W+K project leader. “The problem is in the work place they’re pretty redundant, as unless you’re paying the bills, you turn a blind eye to it.” W+K aims to encourage its employees to reverse this habit, and be as vigilant at work as at home.

The project will start with a pilot, which begins at the agency this week. If successful, W+K intends to roll it out across its network and then offer the open source software for free to other businesses and schools so they can also adopt the strategy. The software is designed to work with all makes of energy monitors.

“Whilst the nation’s offices are wasting £7 million worth of energy each day, there are over 1.5 billion people around the world with no electrical supply,” says Dollar. “Off-On is about transferring this corporate waste into charitable gain and in so doing giving employees a tangible incentive to behave in a more environmentally responsible way. We’re tackling both environmental and social issues simultaneously.”

  • Nice idea, and well done. Lets hope it works.

  • Turlough

    I hope this works, nice and straight forward. Lets hope the user group takes well to it! Well done.

  • This is great!

  • The simplest designs are often the best – and this is one of them. Minimal text strikes the message home well I think.

  • Sheer class. I for one believe that reducing energy consumption is a far more viable goal than replacing our carbon-based energy production with nuclear and that ridiculous red herring, wind. Well done W+K!

  • Doctor Black

    As if it’s going to make a blind bit of difference.

  • The idea of turning corporate waste in to charitable gain is not only intelligent but it is also the right thing to do. Excellent news to hear that this software will also be available to others and for free. Exceptional work.

  • Cat B

    Well done, and to the defeatist who says it won’t make a difference, have you ever seen what ant or termite colonies can do – proof that small bits can add up to big changes.

  • K

    I wonder what W+K is doing behind the scenes to support changes? This idea works best when the company gives systems to support employees actions. eg. not just asking employees to unplug, but switching to energy saving devices. Also would be interesting to hear what W+K’s long-term commitment is beyond this exercise which would help give staff some extra incentive to change.

  • $ophie

    Hi K, I can answer that one for you.
    You’re absolutely right that a company needs to do their bit – we can’t expect employees to do all the work, plus we want to create sustainable behaviour change that will spread to the domestic environment. For the launch of our pilot we changed all kettles to eco kettles, set up a “warming-up wardrobe” in reception to encourage staff to turn down the radiators and switched to energy saving light bulbs where possible.
    Building work has recently started in our offices, so we’ve also decided to add a simple “off” switch to blocks of desks, enabling the last person out to turn everything off at plug point, without having to fumble under the table. As this is still in beta, we’re going to be experimenting with additional incentives, but if you have any thoughts then please do let us know as we’re always up for input and suggestions.

    In terms of longer-term commitment, this is exactly what we’re working on now. Our vision for this project is to enable as many other companies and hopefully schools to participate as possible and we’re in the process of establishing how this might work.

    We’ve been running the pilot for 3 months now and it’s been pretty successful to-date – we’ve reduced energy consumption by an average of 9% and in January we decreased consumption by 12%. You can see more about our progress here: http://wklondon.typepad.com/welcome_to_optimism/offon/

  • Good show watt

  • Good show watt