Four Best Practices in Green Design
By Roger G. Hill Chief Executive Officer & Chairman, The Gettys Group Inc. | November 27, 2009
It doesn't take an environmental expert to tell you, that "going green," (otherwise known as the act of acting sustainably in one's personal and professional life,) is in vogue right now. In fact, the act of going green reached its tipping point months ago and since then, every industry that wasn't already naturally involved has been furiously working to identify and promote their green mindset. Not so very long ago, being green was an expected benefit-add among industries that observably affected the state of the environment as a result of the day-to-day nature of their business - the cleaning product and automobile industries come to mind. Oh how things have changed! Sometimes it seems as if every industry is seeking to "green" their public persona. From restaurants to car washes to fashion lines, the desire to be perceived as green is universal today. In fact, this morning I actually heard a radio ad for a bank that was offering "green banking." (In case you're wondering what that means, it seems that customers who sign on for a green checking account receive a small deposit every time they engage in a paperless transaction.)
So, we've established that green is a trend and a big one at that. But so was The Hustle in the 70s, big hair in the 80s or low-fat cookies and muffins in the 90s - and they're no longer in style. With many companies, my own included, investing in sustainability what is it that we can do to ensure that this trend evolves into a standard business practice? What will bridge this movement from a short-term trend to an expected and natural way of living life and doing business? An innate way to grow our businesses and profitability? It will be the strategy and significance that we, as businesses bring to our connection with sustainability. It will be taking the philosophy of green, one that has a great deal of momentum and awareness right now, and finding the authentic place for it to live within our businesses, becoming a best practice. With that, I welcome you to review the four best practices that our firm use as a filter as we approach every green practice, ensuring that the investments that we make in our sustainable actions are an investment in our client's needs and the growth of our company into future decades as well as a salute to the preservation of our planet.
Create a Green Mission Statement
As we all learned in school and have been reminded of dozens of times in real-life scenarios since, a mission statement is a brief statement of the purpose of a company, organization or group. The intention of a mission statement is to keep members and users aware of the organization's purpose and act as a filter to stay on course as new projects or initiatives are taken on.
Surely, you know what your company's mission statement is. But, do you have a green mission statement? Sitting down and working through all of the possible intentions and outcomes of a green mission is the first step to setting a green strategy that is authentic. What are you looking to accomplish? Who are you trying to engage with your green message? What does green mean to your company today? What will it mean in 5 years? Use this mission as your "roadmap" to the greening of your company. It will provide an anchor that will keep you on track with your goals - if followed; it will literally show the way as you live your new mission.
What is so interesting about the process of developing a green mission statement is that the process often exposes an entirely new take as to what you currently perceive as your green goals. So often, sustainability is synonymous with emotion. Doing what's good for the Earth and feeling good about it is the emotional identifier that is assumed will resonate with the internal and external guest. Certainly, this is true on some level. However, there are so many other incentives and results that sustainability can elicit. For example, the goal of sustainability can be about energy savings or disposable materials savings and, bigger picture, about cost savings to a business. The goal of a green mission could be about keeping staff members healthy and performing at a higher and happier level - thereby reducing employee turn-over. The goal of a green mission might be about giving back to a community that has fostered your business and, through off-premise staff volunteering, also acts as an advantage in team building and internal culture-boosting. In short, the big picture of going green is always about sustaining the environment, but there can be dozens of smaller (though equally important to the future of your business) goals that are met through your sustainable practices. These smaller benefits to your company are often what will help maintain the green movement within your four walls - saving it from a short "trendy" lifespan and making it a business initiative that is rooted at your company's core for decades and beyond.