Sustainability is a quickly developing sector and it’s time for you to get your office on board using these 10 steps!

Corporate Level: Start the Conversation with your CEO

conversation with CEO
A sustainable conversation starts with your CEO
(Credit: Volodymyr Hryshchenko)

Step 1: Highlight the company value created by becoming sustainable.

Defining the company value generated from becoming sustainable is an essential first step in convincing your CEO to take measures to increase your company’s environmental awareness. To do this, consider mentioning that becoming sustainable benefits your company by attracting a new set of environmentally aware employees, attracting environmentally conscious investors, reducing office costs through minimized waste and increased productivity. Also, sustainability satisfies shareholders.

“Reducing cost encompasses energy conservation strategies that can be as simple as turning off unnecessary lights and insulating walls to more sophisticated efforts such as the installation of geothermal heating and cooling systems. Those efforts having greater overall impact will likely be more expensive to implement, but the long-term results justify the investment”.

Michael Porter

You may also consider sending a survey to your coworkers, board members, and/or investors to quantify the overall interest your company has in becoming sustainable and present these numbers as talking points to your CEO.

Step 2: Define the competitive advantage/market value of being a sustainable business

In a survey of 53,000 consumers, the U.S. National Marketing Institute found that 58% of consumers consider a company’s impact on the environment when making purchasing decisions. Consumers are more likely to purchase goods and services from companies that possess sustainable values.

Sustainable companies have a competitive advantage and an attractive brand image that can be utilized in marketing. Defining this competitive advantage will convince your CEO of the long-lasting market value that comes from becoming sustainable. Utilize peer pressure to do this: find businesses that are focused on sustainability and highlight the aspects that make those businesses attractive to employees, investors, shareholders, and customers. You may also consider interviewing consumers about why they buy from sustainable brands and present your findings.

Read more with Harvard Business Review’s “Yes, Sustainability can be a Strategy”  and “Sustainable Advantage”.

Patagonia, a sustainable brand
Patagonia has sustainability embedded at its core, offering competitive advantage and increased market share.
(Credit: Patagonia)

Step 3: Help management plan Events

One simple way to increase your company’s environmental awareness is to honour days like Earth Day (April 22nd) and World Cleanup Day (September 19th), globally recognized events that demonstrate support for environmental protection. Honouring these days is an easy way to display your company’s environmentally-friendly values to the public.

World Ocean Day
World Ocean Day
(Credit: Jeremy Bishop)

To learn more, follow Colin Crowell’s Twitter Thread: “Taking steps toward sustainability this Earth Day”.

Organizing a company-wide recycling event, clean up, or food drive is also an effective way to keep your coworkers and CEO engaged in the sustainability movement. These informal events are a fun way to bring sustainability into your office and are relatively easy to set-up. Plan A has organized 20 successful clean ups and other events that keep Plan A’s employees enthusiastic about sustainability and encourage real change. If you need inspiration, check out Plan A’s newsletter which highlights weekly sustainable events and gives you resources to celebrate these days within your own business!

Step 4: Create a presentation for your CEO

Keynote presentation
A pitch-perfect keynote to highlight the benefits of sustainability
(Credit: Teemu Paananen)

Once you’ve identified the key reasons your company should become sustainable, create a presentation for your CEO. This presentation should: Highlight the company advantage of becoming sustainable, highlight the competitive advantage of becoming sustainable, provide examples of environmentally-conscious practices to implement in the office, provide a plan for environmentally-centred events that the office should engage in.

Plan A’s product includes templates of presentations for your CEO to ensure this step goes smoothly and your presentation delivers maximum impact. Visit Plan A’s website to request a demo.

Internal & Team Level: Rally your Coworkers

Adopting an environmentally-aware mindset within your company and creating sustainable goals is the first step in your journey to becoming a successful sustainable business. Once this mindset is established, Plan A finds you a sustainable solution by helping you measure, reduce, and offset your business carbon footprint whilst helping you maintain this employee culture of sustainability.

Start a green team in your company
(Credit: Ali Yahya)

Step 5: Create a “green team” in your company 

One of the most effective ways to create a long-lasting culture of sustainability is to rally a team of like-minded and environmentally conscious individuals to create a “green team” within your company. A “green team” can be responsible for ensuring that the sustainability movement stays active, planning sustainability events, and engaging the office in various sustainability efforts. Additionally, this team should highlight sustainability-related hot topics in the news and mass media to keep the company’s sustainability movement relevant and update the company on this information weekly.

Step 6: Include sustainability topics in your company emails or newsletters

Planetarium Newsletter
A must-read, the planetarium newsletter
(Credit: Plan A)

Informing the company in weekly meetings or emails about sustainability around the world and in the office is a great way to keep the conversation active and relevant. This can be in the form of an article, podcast, or simply a paragraph highlighting the current relevance of sustainability.

Plan A’s weekly newsletter includes articles, issues, and events going on around the world surrounding the sustainability movement and is a great resource to pull from in your meetings or emails.

Step 7: Improve your signage: Be green

Posting signs (they can be as simple as post-it notes or posters) throughout the various office spaces is a great way to keep sustainability at the forefront of your coworkers’ minds. These signs may be placed in areas such as: the kitchen, reminding people to be conscious of how much water they are using. The average world citizen uses 22 litres per day and the average office employee in the US uses 57 litres of water per day. The trash/recycle/compost bins highlighting which items go in each bin and the bathroom reminding people to turn off the lights.

Recycling bin
Food waste bins are ingenious to reduce carbon emissions.
(Credit: Patricia Valerio)

Data from the 2012 US Energy Information Association suggests that “Small and midsize office buildings in the (those under 100,000 square feet) use an average of 15 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 38 cubic feet of natural gas per square foot annually. In a typical office building, lighting, heating, and cooling represent nearly 70% of total energy use, making those systems the best targets for energy savings. Energy represents about 19% of total expenditures for the typical office building, making it a significant operational cost deserving of management attention”

Individual Level: Sustainability Starts with YOU

We want you for sustainability
(Credit: Earth First news)

Step 8: Identify all the areas of improvement in your company 

An important first step in bringing sustainability to work is to manually identify your office’s sustainability pain points. Does your office have energy-efficient sources of electricity? Does your office recycle and compost? Is there a high amount of water usage in the kitchen or bathroom? Once these pain points are identified, you can start addressing them.

Step 9: Make your coworkers aware and discuss your goals

Establish a set of OKRs to reach your sustainable goals
Establish a set of OKRs to reach your sustainable goals
(Credit: Isaac Smith)

Sustainability starts with understanding the problem. Once you identify your office’s pain points, start the conversation by sending resources to your friends and coworkers and talking to them informally about what you notice in the office. If you have time or financial constraint, consider signing up for a demo of Plan A’s product here, and we will use over 205,000 data points customized to your office to prioritize your pain points. We create concrete steps for you to take in the journey to sustainability.

Step 10: Keep your coworkers updated on successful endeavours

Did your company cut back on electricity or water usage today? Did you successfully recycle for a week? Start with small steps to create a culture that values growth and progress in the journey to becoming sustainable. It starts with the little things! 

These 10 steps are just the beginning, but they’re a great place to start the sustainability conversation in your office.

Start the sustainable conversation in your office
Start the sustainable conversation in your office

Thanks for reading! Stay involved and keep learning by signing up for our newsletter or requesting a demo here and let us define your company’s journey to becoming sustainable!