Profile: Environmental challenger - Janet Morris, marketing director, Energy Saving Trust

Janet Morris, the mouthpiece of government body Energy Saving Trust (EST), shuns the lift, opting to trudge down several flights of stairs to our interview meeting room - 'Saving energy!' she quips.

This week, Morris has been guiding the trust through what she hopes will be its most successful annual Energy Efficiency Week, now in its ninth year. The EST persuades consumers to cut down on energy use to help the Government meet the targets it has set for itself (Labour pledged the UK would reduce carbon emissions by 12.5 per cent by 2010 in an energy White Paper last year). 'With 28 per cent of carbon emissions coming from household use, and another 26 per cent from road transport, consumer behaviour can make a difference,' she says.

With an 11-year spell at airport company BAA in a variety of managerial roles, Morris's career has not always displayed obvious environmental credentials. Now a genuine convert, Morris says she always switches lights off and never leaves the TV on standby - 'making up for my years with BAA'.

Morris was drafted in more than a year ago by EST chief executive Philip Sellwood to help centralise marcoms. She now oversees a £10m-plus budget and 50 marketing and PR staff and is in the process of trimming down PR support to one agency.

Last year's Energy Efficiency Week received double the coverage of the previous year and Morris is determined 2004 will be as successful. For the first time, EST has incorporated climate change into its campaign to capitalise on current affairs - PM Tony Blair recently dubbed the issue the 'greatest environmental challenge', while films such as The Day After Tomorrow have, says Morris, boosted public awareness.

The EST has also released a report with government body UK Climate Impacts Programme, painting an alarming picture of a projected mid-21st-century Britain: beaches vanishing, flooding so common that people cannot get home insurance, gridlock as rails and roads buckle under soaring heat waves, and rampant pests.

Outside Energy Efficiency Week, EST runs year-round public-awareness campaigns and lobbies the Government to make energy efficiency more attractive through reduced stamp duty on energy-efficient homes, lower vehicle excise duty and variable congestion charges.

Morris has fond memories of her days at BAA, but it wasn't always plain sailing. One experience included a lesson in crisis communications when six Iraqis commandeered a Sudanese flight and forced it to land at Stansted in 1996. 'We just told (the media) the facts and didn't speculate on the situation,' she recalls.

In her spare time, Morris prepares dinner parties - and then runs them off; she conquered both the London and New York marathons last year and admits she is an 'adrenalin junkie'.

As if chartering her sailing club's yacht in the annual Isle of White Cowes Regatta isn't enough, Morris organises group skiing holidays for her boating chums. 'I take the foredeck position, which is at the front of the boat: it is scary and I like to think it is the most dangerous position,' she explains.

Her appeal as an organiser and leader is apparent. The Times weather correspondent and sailing-club friend Paul Simons says: 'She is very dynamic and a good organiser - everyone needs a Janet.'

Despite becoming a keen advocate of all things green, Morris says she will soon be on the move again, looking for new challenges in communications when her contract at EST expires next April. She pledges to stay in interim management for the foreseeable future: 'I will be troubleshooting for an organisation going through a period of change.'

As the Government faces the strict environmental targets it has drawn up, somebody somewhere needs to revolutionise consumer behaviour. It's the type of challenge that an adrenaline junkie like Morris relishes.

RESUME

1988: Head of marketing and business development, BAA

2000: Business development manager, British Airways Airmiles

2001: Marketing and communications director, Jigsaw Day Nurseries

2002: Communications director, Farrer & Co

2003: Marketing director, Energy Saving Trust

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