Although there are robust and technical environmental audits, often small companies don’t necessarily need such detail to understand their environmental impacts. Smaller companies can conduct sustainability assessments that are more geared to their business. Assessments not only review the footprint of organization operations but will also identify opportunities to improve environmental stewardship, save money, improve productivity and increase customer and employee loyalty.
To conduct your own sustainability assessment, reach out to each department or division of a company and hold informational interviews. Although more information can be gathered through in-person meetings, an organization can also conduct an assessment via an online survey. Develop a series of questions that ask specifically what each area is doing to reduce resource use and minimize environmental impact. Some organizations also like to assess the social side of business and determine how employees are engaged in the community and the non-profit organizations they support.
Here are is a list of some sample questions to ask by each sustainability topic area:
Waste Management: Is recycling provided as an option? If so, what percentage of the employees participates in office recycling?
Suppliers and Purchasing: Are office supplies purchased made from post-consumer recycled material? How many of your vendors are local suppliers? Has your purchasing department developed in guidelines that take into account green businesses practices?
Paper Reduction: What paper reduction policies and/or practices has the company done? Is the company’s marketing giveaways made from recycled material and/or recyclable?
Energy Conservation: How has your company tried to reduce energy? Do you own any energy star equipment? Does staff turn off equipment in the evenings?
Water Conservation: How has your company tried to reduce water? What water saving devices are installed in your facilities?
Toxins and Chemicals: What types of cleaning chemicals are used in your office? Is there any toxic or hazardous material located at the facilities?
Transportation: If you have a transportation fleet, what measures have you taken to reduce driving?
Employees: Does the company have any communications educating employees about conservation of resources?
Philanthropy: How does your company contribute to the community? Donations? Volunteer programs?