There isn’t one correct answer when determining who should manage sustainability practices, but making strides in energy and water efficiency can be easier when you have a person or team dedicated to (and responsible for) implementing processes and tracking performance.
Here are a few ways you can manage your organization’s green tasks:
Integrate green responsibilities into the existing facilities management team. Because facilities management is often most familiar with the systems and processes that affect sustainability goals and outcomes – lighting, HVAC, plumbing, building envelope, commissioning – it makes sense to integrate green performance tasks into that department.
Example in Action: Colorado State University’s dedication to sustainability is spearheaded by its facilities management department. As the team manages university facilities, it integrates projects that create a more sustainable campus. The department even displays real-time electricity and water usage on its website so visitors can see how the campus is doing.
Create a green volunteer committee made up of employees across departments (and company locations). Aim for a wide variety of staff members to join the team: IT may have ideas about powering down computers at night, while accounting might suggest ways to use less paper. Depending on your organization’s green goals and the number/location of employees on the team, the group can convene via videoconference or in person to share ideas, report on implementation and performance tracking, and measure savings.
Example in Action: MIT’s volunteer Working Green committee focuses on developing programs to educate administrative and support staff about recycling, reducing, and reusing. They’ve also invited the City of Cambridge’s recycling division director to sit on the committee for a community perspective.
Start an internship program. Bringing in an intern to examine current processes, research green alternatives, make suggestions for changes, and calculate possible ROI is beneficial for your organization, but also provides the intern with real-world experience. Hiring an intern doesn’t require a big financial investment, and it can be a good way to get a fresh perspective on sustainability.
Example in Action: Union Pacific Corporation hired an intern to assist with green efforts. Through his suggestions, the company could save more than half a million dollars in energy costs annually at just one location. Starting small with delamping soda machines, he then created a maintenance program for compressed air systems and pursued a compressed natural gas vehicle pilot project.
Hire a chief sustainability officer (CSO). Dedicating one person to directing green efforts means there’s a centralized authority for sustainability. Responsible for communicating the business case for green, collaborating across departments, and conveying green efforts to the community, this position is seen most within large organizations.
Example in Action: The University of Buffalo’s CSO connects people across the university with information and tools to reduce the school’s carbon footprint and improve environmental stewardship. He’s responsible for working with university partners and implementing a campus-wide strategy for sustainability.
Who’s responsible for the green initiatives within your organization?