The presence of green union reps is having a significant impact upon UK workplaces – encouraging a growing number of employers to adapt cost-saving energy efficiency measures and persuading colleagues to become more environmentally-aware at work, a TUC conference heard this week.

Delegates gathering at the union’s Congress House were presented with the results of the TUC 2012 green workplaces survey of 1,200 green reps, which reveals how unions are making a difference.

The survey suggests that unions are having many more green-themed conversations with employers than they were when the survey was first carried out three years ago. Unions have also upped significantly the amount of environmentally-friendly activity going on at work.

The most popular methods reported by unions for bringing about greener workplaces included providing loans for cycling equipment so employees can leave their cars at home (35% of survey respondents reported this), replacing old computer screens with more energy-efficient ones (33%), and encouraging staff to switch off lights, computers and other electrical equipment before going home (26%).

But this year’s survey also pointed to an alarming degree of inaction from employers with a quarter (24%) having no plans to replace energy inefficient display computer screens, 18% not doing anything about overnight or weekend use of electricity and 17% failing to reduce emissions from lights being left on out of hours.

Encouraging a greater use of public transport and the use of energy-efficient vehicles is key to improving the green credentials of any workplace, says the TUC. The 2012 survey found that just under a third of employers (30 per cent) provided secure cycle storage as well as shower facilities, 22 per cent encouraged the use of tele/video conferencing and 20 per cent were providing loans to enable staff to buy travel season tickets.

Commenting on the survey – Green unions at work 2012 – TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said:

“Unions are perfectly placed to make a real difference at work when it comes to issues of a green variety – both to managers and to their colleagues. Whether it’s simply getting colleagues to turn out the lights before going home or persuading the management of their organisations to switch to greener energy suppliers, unions are showing that they are driving the move towards more environmentally-friendly attitudes at work.”