10 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Company’s Sustainability Program

Employee enthusiasm for sustainability ebbs and flows. If your company’s energy around sustainability needs a boost, here are some steps you can take.

1.      Games – Online game Energy Chickens encourages employees to reduce energy use in their office. Each employee is assigned a cartoon baby chicken. If they use less than the average amount of energy in the office, their cartoon baby chick grows and thrives. Use more than the average amount of energy in the office and their baby chick becomes sick and dies. The game is a fun way to encourage people in the office to adjust their computer power settings

2.   Contests – Tired of being the “Recycling Police” in your office? Set up a recycling contest where employees compete for prizes. With a “Cash for Trash” contest, remind employees what can and can’t be recycled, then pick one department each week and check all the trash and recycling bins. Out of all people recycling perfectly, randomly draw two names and give them each a $25 gift certificate or pair of movie tickets. Then publicize their names to the office. If your company has eight departments this contest will only cost $400.

3.    Highlight one to three new initiatives – A long list of potential office greening tips is exhausting to most people. Highlight a few at a time and present them as little things people can do to make a big difference.

4.      Reinvigorate your green team –Breathe new life into the green team every six months with a new approach, emphasis, or team building activity.

5.      Harness the genius of net present value – Want to upgrade the HVAC system or install a heat pump? Pitch management to invest with a Net Present Value calculation. Many business managers want to see a one or two year return on investment. NPV is a way to garner support for projects with longer paybacks. NPV adds up the costs and benefits of a project over the life of the equipment. Simply stated, if the NPV is positive, the company should seriously consider investing in the project compared to other investment opportunities

6.      Update performance appraisal metrics – Employees prioritize projects listed in their performance appraisal. Human Resources plays an important role in whether or not sustainability projects happen at work. Facilities Management personnel performance appraisals are key for companies that want to make sure sustainability project happen. At the end of the year facilities managers are often rated on how many trouble calls they resolved. Having performance metrics like reducing energy use per square foot and completing a course on heat pumps would help. 

7.      Update mission statement – Companies with a loyal organizational culture have the following elements in common:

  • a mission statement that reflects the company’s value as a driver of social and environmental change,
  • management that provides open access to financial information and the business plan, and
  • training to grow their employees.

8.      Provide paid time off to volunteer each year – Companies with loyal employees are given paid time off to volunteer for non-profits doing environmental or social work in their community.

9.      Ask for support from green celebrities - At looktothestars.org, you can find a celebrity’s favorite charity. Matt Damon of the Bourne Conspiracy movies champions Water.Org which brings clean drinking water to those living in extreme poverty. Once your company makes a tax-deductible donation to that celebrity's favorite non-profit, send a note to the non-profit about your company’s greening efforts and ask their people to send a message in support of your company’s sustainability program. Publicize this support to your employees.

10.   Ask for the mayor’s support – Mayors in various cities have professional athletes and celebrities on the payroll to talk up how sustainable and green their city is. At U.S. Conference of Mayors events, mayors want to be perceived as green. Tap into this competition by asking your city’s mayor for a written statement of support for your company’s greening efforts to date. Then publicize it to your employees.

Global environmental trends and sustainability can be heavy topics. The best way to generate support and rally the troops is to keep your company's efforts simple, interesting and fun.