Best Practices for Sustainability and Communicating Sustainability

Posted on Jun 22 2010 at 11:35:44 AM in Business & Economy

A sustainable best practices program involves a comprehensive and holistic approach that encompasses everything a business does that impacts the environment. A successful sustainability initiative demands the willing participation of employees. Businesses also need to understand how to communicate sustainability in a way that conveys their environmental initiatives while enhancing their internal and external brand. A sustainable best practices program involves a comprehensive and holistic approach that encompasses everything a business does that impacts the environment. A best practices program assists companies in making systematic changes in areas like emissions, air quality, energy, transportation, water and waste.

A sustainability initiative involves the development and implementation of green ideas and goals. Crucial to this process is the development of metrics that track and monitor performance. Also important is the identification and response to challenges, opportunities and threats.

Although standardized sustainable best practices are still in their formative stage of development, there are some basic practices that help businesses become more environmentally sustainable.

Assemble a green team. A dedicated sustainability management team is imperative to making and maintaining sustainable changes. The green team should have representatives from different departments. Write policies in your employee manual for energy, water, waste, transportation and pollution prevention. Create routine maintenance checks for all appliances. Include internal signage and online communications educating employees and the public about relevant environmental concerns.

Monitor and manage emissions, set targets for emissions reductions. Select materials that have less impact on indoor air quality (Use carpets, furniture, paints, adhesives and cleaning products that are associated with less noxious outgassing).

Monitor and manage energy consumption. Implement energy efficiency program (most programs pay for themselves within a couple of years). Develop energy reduction targets for IT, manufacturing, lighting, heating and cooling. 

Track the mileage of all company vehicles. Tracking mileage and examining your travel routes can help you better understand your fuel usage and find more expedient routes. 

Monitor water consumption and develop strategies for water reduction. Effective strategies can include something as simple as retrofitted faucets with low-flow aerators.

Monitor waste and develop a strategy for waste reduction and recycling. Knowing the waste stream makes it easier to identify targets for waste reduction. Keep a log tracking the trash. Include a recycling program with a good plan including logistics that detail how recycled materials will be collected and stored.     A successful sustainability initiative demands the willing participation of employees. Although there are ample opportunities for creative innovation, there are some simple best practices for introducing and cultivating a workplace environment that supports sustainability initiatives.

The first step to engaging employees in sustainability involves setting targets. This means developing clear strategic objectives and then sketching out actionable plans to achieve those objectives.

It is important to provide incentives for participation from the inception. Establish recognition and/or reward programs for employees who contribute to the company's sustainability initiatives.

Announce the program and schedule an inaugural event for employees. Use coordinated communications to inspire and motivate change, while enhancing the company brand. Focus on educational efforts that help employees understand how their individual actions can make a positive impact on the organization.

Promote the program with regular communications and updates. Add sustainability to your company newsletter and educate customers about the company's sustainability initiatives. Remind people that individual actions multiplied many times make a difference.

Empower people at the local level. Be open and transparent about the progress on individual sustainability projects. Develop interactive scorecards and encourage friendly competition among office and regions. Provide opportunities for employees to participate and collaborate, it is good to maximize participation, however, green programs work best if they are voluntary.

Businesses that succeed in engaging employees in sustainability, improve morale and benefit the bottom line while developing a productive collaborative culture. However, businesses need to understand how to communicate sustainability in a way that not only conveys environmental initiatives but enhances the internal and external brand.

Communicating sustainability is about more than information. Effective communications change behavior, while information alone does not always lead to action.

Effectively communicating sustainability is about attractive campaigns that make sustainable lifestyles fashionable and cool without being superficial. Marketing support including a logo, advertising, video and presentations can also help to communicate sustainability.

Effective strategies for sustainable communications involve clearly defining the target audiences and developing a corresponding message. The message objectives need to be concrete, clear, realistic and achievable. It is often better to focus on a single issue rather than numerous different points.

Decide how these objectives will be achieved by developing message(s) and defining channel(s). Do not overload an audience with information; maintain a common theme throughout all the aspects of the campaign. Identify how the particular audience prefers to receive information; consider how social networks could be used to communicate the message.

Conduct audience research using focus groups or telephone surveys. Find out what motivates the target audience, determine what they read, watch and listen to.

Perform a SLEPT Analysis (Social, Legal, Environmental, Political and Technical issues) that might affect the campaign.

To assist with planning and implementation, develop a timeline that identifies communications milestones. Set up a green team steering group, as well as a campaign coordinator.

Continually measure and evaluate the communications. Establish what will be measured and how. Seek audience feedback, then document and report this evaluation. Make the plan and the assessment metrics readily accessible to team members and update them as needed.

Above all tailor all sustainable communications to the culture in which they are being launched.
  Article Information
Author: TheGreenGuy
Created: Jun 22 2010 at 11:35:44 AM
Updated: Jun 22 2010 at 11:35:44 AM
Language: English