Defining Green Team Roles and Responsibilities

Happy team. Isolated.Green Teams are groups of green-minded co-workers and colleagues that can provide guidance and direction on sustainability initiatives within an organization. Often these teams are loosely formed and their role and responsibilities are not clearly defined. Providing clarity not only motivates the green team but can often help businesses go to the next level with their sustainability initiatives.

The following are possible roles and responsibilities your green team could have within your organization:

  • Conduct and analyze sustainability assessment/s
  • Set sustainability priorities and goals
  • Develop a sustainability project plan
  • Coordinate,  launch and support sub-task teams for sustainability initiatives
  • Advise on sustainability opportunities and innovations
  • Track, monitor and analyze sustainability metrics and measures
  • Address and manage challenges and constraints to the sustainability initiatives
  • Develop a sustainability communication plan and process
  • Recommend or provide sustainability education, support and offer advise to other employees

Green teams are an important asset to any organization and can be a source of motivation for innovation and business process improvements. According to Greenbiz.com, The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) released a not-too-startling report entitled “The Engaged Organization: Corporate Employee Environmental Education Survey and Case Study Findings” which confirms:

“By engaging employees, companies can spark innovative changes in everyday business processes that save money and reduce environmental and social impacts while also inspiring employees to make sustainable choices at home and in their communities.”

For more information about how to effectively build a green team in your organization, contact us.

Sustainability Assessments: World-Wide or Within Your Company…It All Matters

World Leaders, environmental experts, and social and economic dignitaries attended the Rio+20 Conference held in Rio de Janiero this past June, producing a 49 page document entitled The Future We Want , detailing insights from the past, and outlining the future focus of Sustainability practices for our World. The Conference, officially known as The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), was the third in a series of United Nations collaborative assessments of the future of our planet.

In Rio in 1992, the Conference was called The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED); ten years later, in 2002, in Johannesburg, World Leaders and invested participants attended The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Sustainable development takes care of the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations, focusing on economic development, social development and environmental protection.

In June, the attendees committed to “working together for a world that is equitable, just, and inclusive, to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, and environmental protection to thereby benefit all.”

Are we any better off twenty years later? Have there been actual improvements to our World, achieved by the practice of green conservation, sustainable construction, and fair practice? Have we fed the poor and eliminated our need for fossil fuels? According to Rio 20+, “we” are working on it although not as far along as originally hoped.

We can see the activity around us: less plastic in throw-away water bottles, emission controls, re-cycling initiatives and practices, celebrity concerts to aid impoverished nations, and non-profit foundation hands-on training to eradicate hunger through sustainable farming and conservation practices. But the conference concluded that there have been set backs to past initiatives due to unrest, natural disasters, economic, food and energy crises around the globe. The following concerns were determined as primary focus points, in order to go forward:

  • Eradicating Poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today, an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.
  • Reaffirmation of the Rio Principles and Johannesburg Past Action Plans, including inter alia, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Assessing the progress, as we strive toward the goals.
  • Mainstreaming sustainable development, by integrating economic, social, and environmental links.
  • Education toward the changing of unsustainable patterns of consumption and productivity in poorer regions, protecting and managing their natural resources, where their economy is usually based.
  • Re-assessing as new challenges emerge.

Sustainability assessments are not only the responsibility of World Leaders, Foundations, Celebrities, and Large Corporations. Individuals, in their daily life, and small to mid-sized businesses must make an effort to assess what they have done or need to do within their own environment to protect the future of our planet. There will be an eventual “tipping point” when even more will be accomplished, if we all do our part.

You can read the complete Rio+20 document in the link above, and contact us at eco-officiency for further planning ideas about what you or your business can do. We can help you assess the situation where you are, and achieve your sustainability goals.

It begins with a small step in the right direction.

Sustainability Planning Resources: Understanding Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is one of those skills that seems to be missing from sustainability planning; partially because it is not widely taught nor discussed in business education. It is important with any business planning to understand systems thinking, leverage points and the cause and effect of all activities and possible initiatives, before implementation. Below are some good resources for systems thinking information.

Donella Meadows

One of the premier experts on systems thinking is Donella Meadows. A former Pew Scholar in Conservation and Environment she wrote an excellent article entitled “Places to Intervene in a System” which describes systems thinking as it relates to sustainability practices. Her book, Thinking in Systems is also an easy read to understand the basics.

The AtKisson Group

Alan AtKisson, a well regarded author and sustainability consultant based in Sweden, is well versed in systems thinking. His book and course, ISIS Accelerator is a process to help organizations use systems thinking to develop sustainability plans.

Pegasus Communications

Pegasus Communications is an organization that provides tools and resources for systems thinking and organizational learning. They have an annual conference every year on systems thinking and also publish books on the topic.

Learning for Sustainability

This site offers a realm of sustainability resources. In particular, they have a special page on systems thinking with links to various articles on systems thinking and practices.

Small Businesses Profit from Sustainability

A report published by multiple entities offers insight into how small businesses can profit from sustainability.  Sustainability initiatives can be challenging when most small businesses don’t own their building or facilities nor manufacture their products. This report focuses on case studies from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. It offers some best practices on sustainability that small businesses can employ immediately with little cost and high return.

Click here to download the free report, SME’s Set Their Sights on Sustainability.