Want to Go Green? Make It a Team Effort

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), October 5, 2009 | Go to article overview

Want to Go Green? Make It a Team Effort


Byline: blue chip

Most companies want to be environmentally responsible and good corporate citizens. The challenge is turning ideas into action.

Organizing a dedicated sustainability committee - sometimes known as a "green team" - can help provide the structure and energy to implement sustainability initiatives. It also can motivate employees who want to make a difference in their work environment.

Most green teams address a range of environmental areas, including water and energy conservation, renewable energy, waste prevention, recycling, green purchasing, fleet transportation, and sustainable leadership.

First, select the right team participants. Ideally, the committee should have representatives from a broad range of company functions and levels.

Be sure to include a representative from facilities, maintenance and purchasing, because these employees will likely be directly affected by the initiative. Giving them a chance to help with its design will help to ensure a successful effort.

Once the team is assembled, establish specific and measurable goals for the group. Begin with some easily accomplished tasks such as starting a recycling program or a campaign to reduce energy by turning out lights and office equipment when not in use.

Ask the team to communicate these goals to the rest of employees, as well as track progress. If possible, establish a baseline in each goal area, so you can document results. Examples might include measuring current office paper usage, utility costs, printing costs or the amount of recycling.

Regular communication about the initiative should occur via e-mail, an intranet or presentations at group meetings.

To encourage continued participation, be sure to regularly share progress and appreciation for employee participation. If possible, offer incentives, such as a pizza lunch or reusable water bottles, when milestones are achieved.

Most green teams begin by focusing efforts on improving internal operations. As the team grows over time, it may expand its reach to include vendors and suppliers, local community organizations or government agencies. This external engagement extends the potential benefits of the company's sustainability efforts to the larger business and civic community. …

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