Return to Greener Demeanor
- Why Greening Your Organization Should be a Priority
Many organizations are developing strategies to green their organization as they recognize the importance that businesses must act on global warming and other environmental issues. Over the past 12 months, executives have come to regard the environment as the sociopolitical issue that will attract the most attention from the public and politicians over the next five years. In the face of widespread media coverage and public interest, businesses can no longer ignore the concerns, risks and potential opportunities associated with climate change. Climate Change is no longer a fringe concern in the world of business and finance but part of the focus of strategic deliberation and decision-making by executives and investors around the globe. With this said, Direct Energy Consulting has outlined key strategies and tips for organizations to build awareness and consciousness of strategies of how to best manage and adapt to it.
- Approach Greening as an Opportunity
Many people believe that the business opportunity presented by “Greening” is - in many respects – equivalent to the innovations enabled by the Internet. The Internet’s evolution has created immense value from business models which barely ten years ago were utterly inconceivable. Many believe “Greening” to offer opportunities on an even larger scale. Many organizations integrate their greening strategies with their overall competitive strategy, assessing market opportunities and developing services and products that will meet a carbon constrained world.
- View Greening as a Journey
We believe that the “greening” of an organization should be viewed more as a journey than an end-state. This journey has prompted many of the organizations with which Direct Energy works to radically alter their business models or consider strategic options which may have been taboo until now. It is also about taking a fresh look at your organization. As such, we advise organizations to ready themselves for a further, extended period of radical change, which will see many of those who take action, become leaders in the market.
- Timing is Everything
For many organizations, it is not whether to take action, but when. The key to success is in timing the various components of a strategy.
- Taking the First Step
Many organizations with which Direct Energy Consulting works know that they have to green their organization but unsure where to start. For those who have started, they are unsure how to follow through. Direct Energy recommends starting by building a comprehensive climate change strategy. This includes development of a plan, compilation of the organization’s carbon footprint and implementation of carbon reduction activities.
- Understand Your Environmental Impact
Understand how your business affects the environment, from the things you buy to your relationships with customers and suppliers, to the full life-cycle of your products and services. At each step of the way, there are opportunities to make choices that can help you align environmental responsibility with business success.
- Establish Appropriate Levels of Commitment
Many organizations are unsure how aggressively they should pursue their greening strategy. Direct Energy advises our clients not to get too far ahead of the rest of the business community. The uncertainty of the regulatory and policy requirements have many organizations not taking aggressive action until there are clear market requirements. Many organizations chose to identify activities that produce immediate benefits as well as address the socially and ethically based argument for “doing the right thing”.
- Lead from the Top
An individual executive can play a crucial role in driving the level of green commitment and innovation within an organization. A strong individual who truly believes in the initiative can have a profound effect on the culture inside an organization. Outside of the organization, the credibility conferred by demonstrating a green commitment carries a critical amount of weight with peers and among governments and other organizations.
- Every Business Context Is Unique
One size doesn't fit all, even within the same field of business. Ongoing analysis and audits of your operations is important. We recommend starting with the things that will affect people's attitudes and perceptions most, and things that will have some measurable impact on the energy use and waste production of your operations.
- Ensure Green Is Not another Fad
It is often a challenge to reconcile overall organizational goals with what’s happening at ground level, where such initiatives can sometimes be regarded as fads unlikely to have a lasting impact. A determined effort needs to be made to overcome that problem. Developing a systematic and integrated approach for corporate initiatives is a good way to address this issue.
- Establish a Green Team
Many of the organizations that have implemented a successful green strategy have a team or committee devoted to the area ensuring that things move ahead. Typically, there is a leader with representation from the different areas of the organization. The key to the success of a green strategy is the multi functional representation and the ability of the green team to look at environmental and other pertinent issues from a wide variety of perspectives.
- Comply with Regulations
Comply with state/provincial, local, and federal environmental, health, and safety regulations. Some governmental programs offer reduced oversight and paperwork for companies that are in full compliance.
- Green Every Part of Your Business
Create an ongoing process for getting each part of your organization to integrate green requirements and recognize and understand environmental, economic and social impacts of each decision.
- Address your Low Hanging Fruit
Many organizations have found success in addressing numerous low cost, low risk, easily identifiable solutions. This is particularly true of organizations that have not actively pursued reduction activities in the past. Low-hanging fruit can include simple energy initiatives, behavioral changes and process improvements.
- Gradual Progress is a Worthy Goal
Begin to make changes where they can be done profitably — or at least in a way that will not decrease profits and productivity for more than a short period. It's important to keep in mind that it isn’t possible to do everything all at once; gradual, incremental progress is a worthy goal.
- The Golden Nugget. Does it exist?
Some organizations have achieved dramatic carbon reductions by implementing a single initiative that significantly altered their carbon emissions. Even though rare, these types of opportunities, do exist and have proven successful but require significant innovation and investment in improved processes. For many organizations, these opportunities do not currently present themselves. However, the market is developing technologies to make these opportunities a reality in the future. It is important that organizations consistently review opportunities with an eye on new technologies.
- Walk the Talk
Top leadership in the organization has to believe in the initiative. Staff and other stakeholders need to hear their leaders explain regularly what responsibility and sustainability mean for the organization and see the actual programs implemented.
- Engage your Stakeholders
Identify all the stakeholders in your organization – shareholders, employees, suppliers, customers, the communities in which you operate – and engage with them on thinking about greening and sustainability. Actively encourage them to participate in your innovation and encourage them to develop green opportunities themselves.
- Establish Targets
Companies establish targets by analyzing risks and opportunities in the different areas of their business. Many organizations set stretch targets beyond what their original analysis indicated was possible. This allows targets, once achieved, to be re-established and to be more ambitious.
- Set an Emission Reduction Target
An emission reduction target is the amount of emissions an organization commits to reducing in a specified period of time. This step goes beyond simply setting a target. It involves also setting a leadership image and standard by which a company makes public to its stakeholders its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Similarly setting a target means having a goal to strive for and benchmark against which to assess a company’s GHG performance each year. It is an aspect of a company’s GHG management strategy. Furthermore it symbolizes that the firm has taken an active approach to adjusting and adapting itself to the issue of climate change and the environment.
- Conduct Green Meetings
A green meeting ensures that all aspects of an event, including its location, food services, transportation and the provision of materials are approached with pollution prevention in mind to reduce the event’s environmental impact. Many employees are involved in hosting such events – weekly staff meetings, seminars, annual general meetings, or the occasional conference. Any gathering has environmental implications. It consumes energy, produces wastes and results in air emissions such as the greenhouse gases implicated in climate change.
- Target your Supply Chain
Your supply chain provides the best opportunities to reach out and connect environmental concerns with your objectives.
- Being Green Can Save Money
Being Green means being more efficient. Improved efficiency means less waste, which translates into overall cost savings. Reducing paper use, for example, saves money. A typical office disposes of about 350 pounds of wastepaper per employee, per year. Switching from single-sided to double-sided printing can cut this figure – and corresponding expenditures and environmental impacts – almost in half.
- Boost Employee Health, Morale, and Productivity
Creating a program to protect the environment can help boost employee morale. Moving toward a toxin-free work environment (which contributes to a healthier workplace) and incorporating “green building” techniques have been shown to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.
- Establish an Organization-Wide Green Policy
Many corporations have established organization-wide policies to define and declare their commitment to environmental improvement. A green policy sends a clear message to employees, vendors, and the community at large. It’s a meaningful first step in any effort to improve an organization’s environmental performance.
- Consider Purchasing Green Power
An increasingly common way that companies are reducing emissions is by buying green power. Green power is defined as electricity or heat generated from renewable resources, including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, and certified low impact hydro..
- Complete an Energy Audit
During an energy audit, a trained engineer conducts a thorough analysis of your facility’s energy use and identifies opportunities for enhanced efficiency, saving your organization money and improving your environmental performance.
- Become Energy Efficient
Fossil fuel is one of the largest contributors to outdoor air pollution in the world. The best way to reduce air pollution is through energy efficiency. Using less energy is also a great way to save your team money.
- Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
There are thousands of lighting products available, many of which offer significant energy savings and improved lighting. Examples include occupancy sensors for frequently vacant rooms; ballast upgrades and reflectors for fluorescent fixtures; compact fluorescent lights in place of incandescent bulbs; timers to turn off lighting; and energy-efficient exit signs. Many of these can pay for themselves in as little as a few months.
- Consider Clean and Fuel-Efficient Transportation
The transportation sector is one of the largest causes of air pollution in the world, responsible for the release of chemicals that contribute to smog, global warming, and adverse health effects. The best way to reduce these impacts is through clean and efficient transportation practices. More efficient transportation practices also means using less fuel, which can save your organization money.
- Complete a Waste Audit
A waste audit is an analysis of your organization’s waste stream. It can identify what types of recyclable materials and waste your organization generates and how much of each category is recovered for recycling or discarded. Using the data collected, your organization can identify the feasibility of enhancing its recycling efforts and potential for cost savings.
Recycling is one of the most widely accepted environmental activities. It is relatively simple and a great way to involve staff at all levels in your organization’s environmental priorities. Recycling saves energy, water, and forests. Producing products from recycled content is also much cleaner than producing the same products from newly harvested or extracted materials. Making paper from recycled fibers, for example, uses less energy and produces significantly less air and water pollution.
- Reduce Waste
When less waste is produced, less energy is required to collect, transport and dispose of the waste and less energy is needed to produce more new materials.
- Waste goes beyond garbage!
Business practices that result in products with huge amounts of waste embedded in them; that involve the consumption of large amounts of energy; that undermine local communities or contaminate the environment can no longer be justified.
- Complete a Water Audit
A water audit analyzes a facility’s water use and looks for ways to make it more efficient. It reviews domestic, sanitary, landscaping, and process-water use, and recommends ways to increase your facility’s water-use efficiency.
- Design for the environment
Sustainable product design is simple. It means you’ve thought ahead: Your product can be disassembled and recycled easily — it has no toxins, uses few raw materials and packaging materials, has fewer components, and takes less energy, water, and resources to produce than traditional products. Goods designed for the environment also can be less expensive to manufacture, and will keep you ahead of regulations.
- Consider LEED certification for existing buildings
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building rating system is a nationally recognized standard for sustainable building design. The standards incorporate a range of environmental and public health considerations, including energy efficiency, building site selection, water use, and many others. When planning a new building or major renovation, consider pursuing LEED certification.
- Make It Constant
Climate change and environmental education is of minimal value if it is relegated to a once-a-year effort every third week of April. Ideally, it should be continually reinforced throughout the year. Moreover, people come and go, people change jobs, and companies reorganize. Amid all this, climate change and environmental messages need to remain steadfast.
- Reduce Business Travel
Emissions from business travel can be reduced by using alternatives to air travel, which is the most carbon intensive travel method. Some examples include taking the train when feasible instead of flying, consolidating business trips so that they are multipurpose and increasing the use of telephone-video- and Web-conferencing.
- Take Advantage of Financial Incentives
Investigate federal, state/provincial and local initiatives that provide financial incentives for environmental efforts. Other programs might offer extensive hands-on assistance for corporate environmental efforts.
- Report Results
It is important that an organization communicate success and progress to interested stakeholders. Many companies issue annual reports on their progress. Reported results are also helpful for management and staff to see how their efforts have lead to fruition. This can be seen as encouragement for continuing the ‘green’ initiative.
- Seek Recognition for Your Environmental Efforts
Apply for corporate environmental awards to benchmark your successful sustainability efforts.
Return to Greener Demeanor
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