The role of the office green committee seems to be changing, and judging from the global and local examples below, this change may be for the better. According to this article from GreenBiz.com, the 3.0 green team of the future is touted to have a steering committee, direct integration within business values and strategies, and actual financial incentives associated with making change happen. (For the basics, check out their 10 Best Practices for Building Green Teams.)
Globally, workplaces like eBay, Genentech and Bloomberg are embracing this 3.0 mantra. Through their green team structural revamp, eBay has improved its waste diversion rate from 73.5% to 99% in just two years. Genentech has signed up 190 Green Gene – Green Guides to be the go-to people in their department on sustainability matters. Bloomberg now hosts a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program for its employees in NYC, where employees are drawn from a lottery to determine who the lucky 150 will be to receive fresh, local produce each week.
Winnipeg workplaces leading the change
Diana Toovey with Fairmont Winnipeg highlights some of the many great aspects of Fairmont’s green teams:
- Fairmont uses incentive programs to award green teams. Hotels compete for the distinguished title of Environmental Hotel of the Year, EnviroStar of the Year, and Green Team of the Quarter. At the individual hotel level, EnviroStar of the Quarter is awarded and colleagues are nominated who practice green working daily.
- Green teams meet monthly and participate in a green team retreat each February to plan for the coming year. Green teams each choose a signature local project to partner on.
- Green programs are not always voluntary. Internal hotel waste reductions programs are required. Fairmont Winnipeg’s staff cantina has recently switched from paper to cloth napkins, and large volume containers for condiments are now used instead of individual packages to reduce waste. Programs like these involve all staff with minimal cost.
Dennis Cunningham, Sustainability Manager with Assiniboine Credit Union, shares ACU’s experience with the changing role of green teams:
- In 2011 ACU began developing an environmental management system (EMS). One of the key elements of ACU’s EMS is a cross-functional team of senior managers and leaders from a number of ACU departments. This “Eco-Excellence Team” has played a critical role in identifying environmental priorities; defining the roles their departments can play in reducing impacts and improving performance; and informing the development of an action plan for achieving short-term and long-term goals.
- Effective and consistent employee engagement has contributed greatly to improving ACU’s environmental performance. ACU employees have been a valuable source of energy and ideas when it comes to environmental sustainability. The action plan developed with the Eco-Excellence Team’s input also provides a great framework for employee engagement.
Do you have an active “green committee” at your workplace? How has your committee changed over time? We’d love to hear your experiences.