Creating your Office Green Team
Corporate environmentalism has been a focus of organizations since the 1980s. Following the first wave of environmentalism that began in the 1970s, corporations, particularly the executive branch, began to realize the business value of sustainability. Since the 1980s, a third wave of corporate environmentalism has emerged. Businesses now recognize that their value increases not just by greening their products and operations, but by engaging employees in this corprate environmentalism as well. According to a National Geographic survey in 2008, more than 80% of U.S. workers said that they believed it was important to work for a company that makes sustainability a top priority.
So how do you engage employees in greening your company?
Start a green team! Just follow these simple steps:
- Gain executive support. Anyone at your organization can start a green team. Really, anyone. However, it is important to have some executive buy-in so that decisions can be made and implemented quickly.
- Executive review commitment. Once your green team has generated a list of ideas, review them quickly to allow change to occur in a timely manner. Your green team will be much more likely to succeed if they feel that their ideas are valued and if they are able to see tangible results of their efforts.
- Create a diverse team. It’s important, especially if you work at a larger company, to ensure that individuals from different divisions are part of the green team. This will generate support and participation from a much larger proportion of your employees.
- Limit the green team’s size. While anyone interested should be able to contribute ideas to their department’s green team representative, keep your green team small. We all know that smaller groups are able to accomplish more in a certain time period, and momentum is important in keeping any group dedicated to its cause.
- Encourage creativity! You have a creative team. Now encourage them to use their brainpower to not just reduce energy and waste, but to improve your product as well. Their impact will be noticeable in both the office and your product’s market.
When suggesting ideas to your company and particularly the executive office, it is best to keep ideas concise. Greenbiz.com recommends following these five steps to organizing your ideas in a clear manner that focuses on the important points:
- A definition of the action
- The quantifiable benefits that the company will receive, along with the intangible benefits
- Outline the costs
- Summarize the risks
- How to track and measure the action so it can be reported to the executive office
Need some inspiration to kick start your green team creativity?
Greenbiz.com and Green Impact partnered to release the report, “Green Teams: Engaging Employees in Sustainbility." The report lists the top 10 best practices for green teams, along with several case studies from leading companies. The whole report is definitely worth reading, but if you are just interested in the 10 best practices, you can read through this shorter article. Inc.com also has some great suggestions (and don’t forget that if you do #2, that you should consider tracking your energy retrofits as well!)
Here are some other resources you can check out to help your green team thrive:
How To Make Your Company Green: The importance of top down support, along with more tips and tricks from The Business Journals.
Patagonia launches clothing recycling initiative in Portland: Encourage customers to recycle your product! Learn about Patagonia's recently launched campaign promoting a cradle to cradle lifecycle for their products in this article from Sustainable Business Oregon.
How to Green your Work: More helpful tips from Treehugger.