Improving your company’s environmental footprint isn’t just good for the planet; it can be a competitive advantage. “As society becomes more educated in environmental issues, job seekers want to work for a company that cares about sustainability,” says Jill Doucette, who has devised green policies for companies like Hootsuite. “It strenghtens their brand in the marketplace as well, where shoppers are more inclined to purchase from an ethical brand.”
Doucette recently co-authored the book Greening Your Hospitality Business with Vancouver designer JC Scott, who has been working on sustainable design projects for more than 30 years. Here are their tips on how any company can become more environmentally friendly:
1. Promote active transportation to work
For companies with the majority of their staff driving to work, getting those who can switch over to biking can have a significant effect. Practical steps, like installing bike racks and showers so that people can clean up after their commute, make it easier for employees to make the transition. Declaring a “bike to work week” is a good way to get employees started, says Doucette.
2. Create green teams
These are working groups specifically focused on identifying concrete steps the business can take to reduce its environmental impact. “It engages the younger people in the company and creates buy-in for their green programs,” says Scott. Doucette sets up green teams for companies and explains their purpose is to find ways to make the office more green and build a one year plan around it. Green teams are also responsible for measuring how the office fared at the end of one year. One client of hers saw dramatic changes after introducing green teams. Their carbon footprint is now 50% less than three years ago.
3. Reduce Energy Usage
“Almost every business can find 10 to 15% in energy savings by simply changing their behaviour patterns,” claims Doucette. Changing the office lighting from incandescent to fluorescent; setting the computer to turn off automatically after a period of inactivity; fine-tuning the heating system, and using window blinds instead of AC in the summer all play a part in reducing a company’s carbon footprint. It will also reduce monthly energy bills.
4. Don’t overload your cloud storage
Moving everything from paper to cloud does not mean you are being more sustainable, says Doucette. “Every digital file has a carbon impact somewhere.” Doucette urges employees to delete the files they no longer need on a regular basis; depending on the services you use, you may also be able to set up retention policies that automatically delete old and unused files.
5. Have a basic sustainable purchasing policy
“Whenever a business is renovating or building, they should build to the highest sustainable standards they can afford today, because it will pay off later,” advises Scott. Doucette recommends companies to decide on a premium threshold for buying green products, whether it’s 15% or 30%. That way, when it’s time to replace an old appliance or order in something new, they can make the most sustainable choice they can afford.
MORE ON SUSTAINABILITY:
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- How to Clean Up With Conscious Consumers »
- Why Embracing Profitable Good—Not CSR—Will Help You Stay Ahead »
- The Key to a Brighter and More Energy-Efficient Office »
Is sustainability just a feel-good fad, or can it be a competitive advantage? What are you doing to green your business? Share your thoughts and strategies by commenting below.