Climate change is arguably the most pressing issue faced by mankind today. To even have a chance against it, everyone must strive to reduce their impact on the environment.
Companies, in particular, should assume a leading role in preventing climate disaster. Doing so benefits not only the environment but the businesses themselves. A 2020 study from Unily found that 65% of workers prefer to work for a company with a strong environmental policy. This indicates green companies appear more reputable and attract more talent.
One of the key tasks businesses have is to green their workplace, and many practical steps exist to achieve this. In this article, we will discuss the practical steps companies can take to green their workplace.
1 - Conduct a Carbon Footprint Assessment
Reducing a company’s impact on the environment requires a carbon footprint assessment. This assessment allows companies to determine how large their footprint is, giving them insight into what is expected of them in terms of reducing it.
A carbon footprint assessment calculates the total number of greenhouse gases a company produces. It takes into consideration energy consumption, waste production, and transportation activities.
Conducting a carbon footprint is the critical first step in developing a sustainability plan. It allows a company to understand where its emissions are coming from. This knowledge then helps in identifying which areas it can reduce its carbon footprint.
For instance, a company, through assessment, might find a large bulk of its carbon emissions come from the energy consumption of its offices. In this case, it may consider investing in renewable energy sources. It may also implement energy-efficient lighting, air conditioning, and smart building automation to lower energy consumption.
2 - Implement Sustainable Practices
With an understanding of their own carbon footprint, companies can better determine which practices they need to follow. It is essential to implement sustainable practices that align with the company’s core values.
The following are some practical steps a company can take to implement sustainable practices:
- Reduce energy consumption: Switch to renewable energy sources like solar or wind power. Implement energy-efficient lighting and smart building automation to reduce energy consumption.
- Minimize waste: Reduce paper consumption, encourage recycling, and eliminate single-use plastics.
- Encourage sustainable transportation: Encourage employees to use sustainable transportation options. Teach them about carpooling, public transportation, and biking.
- Provide remote work options: Allow employees to work from home when possible and set up virtual meetings. Doing these can reduce travel-related carbon emissions.
- Establish sustainable procurement practices: Choose suppliers that have sustainability practices in place. Also, select sustainably produced and packaged products.
- Acquire green building certifications: Obtaining certifications like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) demonstrates a company’s commitment to sustainability. Being certified also comes with benefits for the company.
Implementing sustainable practices is a no-brainer for companies. It reduces their carbon footprint while also saving them money on energy bills, reduces waste disposal costs, and attracts customers who prioritize sustainability.
3 - Engage and Educate Employees
How effective your sustainable practices greatly depend on how well a company’s employees follow them. After all, employees comprise the bulk of a company’s workforce. And they play a critical role in reducing its carbon footprint.
Therefore, engaging and educating workers should be a part of a company’s process of sustainable change. They are also obligated to provide the necessary tools to take action. Doing so not only makes it easier for employees to implement the practices, but it also makes them more effective.
Here are ways businesses can engage and educate their employees:
- Provide sustainability training: Offer sustainability training to employees. This helps them understand the importance of sustainability. It also teaches them how to implement sustainable practices.
- Create a green team: Establish a "Green Team" of employees who are passionate about sustainability. Empower them to lead sustainability initiatives.
- Foster a culture of sustainability: Foster a culture of sustainability by promoting sustainable practices. Also, recognize employees who go above and beyond to support sustainability.
- Deliver sustainable resources: Provide employees with sustainable resources such as reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and utensils. Doing so helps reduce waste and promote sustainable practices.
- Measure and communicate progress: Measure the company's progress in reducing its carbon footprint. Make sure to communicate this progress to employees to foster a sense of ownership and pride in the company's sustainability efforts.
Engaging and educating employees is essential to implementing sustainable practices. By empowering employees to take action and fostering a culture of sustainability, a company can not only reduce its environmental impact but also increase employee satisfaction and retention.
Businesses worldwide are expected to pull their weight in executing climate action plans. Committing to big-ticket sustainability projects is important, and greening the workplace is one of those projects. Doing this requires plenty of time, effort, and resources, but with a data-driven approach and sincerity, any company can be greener.