Does 2011 Hold the Key to your 2012 Green New Years Resolutions? 15 Areas for Improvement

image: next2012 has been officially declared by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, declared the sustainability initiative back in September, 2010, and as 2012 unfolds, global sustainability efforts are moving forward in many directions. In fact, 2012 could be the year to take your sustainability plans to the next level.

The post, Reassess the Effectiveness of Your Business Sustainability Plan, offers suggestions for reflection but how can your business capitalize in 2012 on the benefits sustainable business strategies offer?  

The secret sauce includes: Get others involved.  Consider green teams.  Include social media for engagement and collaboration with stakeholders. Look for ways within the 15 areas for sustainability improvement to engage and collaborate:  

1.  Office Energy Consumption – Evaluate the average energy use per square foot of office space and implementing best practices to reduce: energy consumption studies, efficiency practices, equipment modifications, etc.

2.  Employee Commuting – Offer employees incentives to ride public transportation or participate in car/van pooling.

3.  Employee Telecommuting – This offers reduced office space and transportation as a potential win-win-win practice for businesses, employees, and the environment. 

4.  Sustainable Design – Consider materials selection, energy consumption, manufacturing, product use and operation, and final disposition, early in the product development process.

5.   Water Conservation – Manage water entering the company and look for opportunities to reuse water.

6.  Management Systems  – Raise eco awareness and company commitment through established sustainability policies, standards, metrics, and self audits.

7.   Environmental Philanthropy – Move beyond just corporate volunteering efforts  and provide access to technology, engineering support, information and research that benefits the local community and the environment.

8.  Packaging – Focus on using as little packaging material as needed and making packaging as recyclable as possible.

9.  Pollution Prevention – Keep attention on both source control and waste reduction

10.  Recycling and Waste Reduction - Anywhere there is a trash can, there should be a recycling bin.

11.  Resource Conservation – Consider material and energy consumption across the entire value chain…reduce, reuse, recycle.

12.  Printing Less – Paper makes up about 35% of a typical company’s total waste stream, how can you reduce your paper use in 2012?

13.  Go Digital – Reduce paper use and get contracts and documents signed more quickly by using electronic signatures.

14.  Sustainable Partnering – A key aspect of business sustainability is making sure that you manage your supply chain and partner with companies with similar values.

15.    Sustainable Education and Development - There is always more you can do to make your business more sustainable.  Encourage education and innovation within the organization. Green teams are great here.

The traditional view of business sustainability has been that companies must be firmly committed, heavily engaged, and fully mature to reap the benefits of applied business sustainability concepts.  The truth is that sustainability is a never ending journey of incremental progress.  By assessing and reassessing your companies current state and the goals of your business sustainability plan, your organization can set itself up for definable success. 

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