Workplace Sustainability

What is sustainability?

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Sustainability entails living mindfully of the future, embracing and respecting life in the present, and caring for the wellbeing of generations to follow. The concept is broadly defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

The ability to adapt to change has been a crucial element to the historical survival of mankind and increasingly the key to success as an organization, corporation or community. The ability to sustain our organizations and communities in the face of rapid global change and resource competition is the critical issue of our age. Citizens, employees and stakeholders must play a part. Managers, CEOs and leaders, practicing transformational stewardship, increasingly seek to find sustainable practices and strategies for their organizations. These principles of sustainable organizations are more holistic than business practices of the past. They recognize both the need for return on investment, the wise use of resources and seek the well being of their employees and stakeholders. These principles describe a workplace or locality that honors the diversity, inter-relatedness, values and the uniqueness of the people, places and collaborative processes within our organizations. Sustainable organizations utilize locally appropriate technology and strategies to secure their future and benefit their locality. This brochure is an initial guide to actions necessary to create sustainable organizations and workplaces.

Sustainability in the Workplace

Business jargon follows the trends of the marketplace. Some ideas do not last, while others have a deep impact on our world view. Sustainability is not a short-term trend. It has begun and will for the foreseeable future shape the business world by redefining profit, return on investment, capital and corporate responsibility. Visionary companies are now beginning to shift toward business practices that respect people, profit and planet to remain not just competitive, but secure in their respected markets.

One tenet of sustainability is that we must measure our resource use and account for the external costs of our goods and services. The beauty of going “sustainable” is that many of the changes we make are beneficial to our health and environment, while saving us money. Reducing our energy and water usage, as well as waste produced, all translate into less resource utilization and therefore, lower costs.

Whether you are concerned with cutting operating costs or reducing your business’ carbon footprint, decreasing consumption of shrinking stocks of natural resources is more than a political or ethical choice. It is necessary for the viability of an organization, community and country.

In the near future, efficient use of locally available resources, goods and services will play a huge role in reducing the high costs of power and water for buildings. In addition to reducing business costs, conservation of resources will promote greater national security, reducing energy imports and shrink the health and environmental damages that result from burning fossil fuels. All these indicators point to the importance of “Buying Local” now and into the future as a critical part of sustainable, regional economies.

Therefore local businesses are an integral part of the solution. Every action, no matter how small, can contribute to the global effort to reduce our ecologic footprint. Sustainable business models have three main drivers:

  1. Environmental Pressure: As our energy and natural resource demands grow, impacts to ecosystems are proportionally growing and causing more damage to the health of our planet and communities.
  2. Economic Pressure: Sustainability presents opportunities for efficiency that can improve business performance and competitiveness, while reducing operating costs.
  3. Social Pressure: Investors, customers, environmental groups and the media have begun to make sustainability the profitable choice.

Seven Areas of Concern

In the next century, a remarkable transformation of industry and commerce will have to occur as the human population doubles and resources available per person drop by one-half to three-fourths. Society will have to create vital local economies that uses radically less material and energy.

Energy: Use energy efficiently and seek renewable energy

Water: Conserve and prevent pollution to water resources

Transportation: Reduce CO2 travel emissions

Waste: Reduce, reuse, recycle

Communicate: Engage and educate employees

Collaboration: Diversify and integrate the workforce

Health: Encourage a healthy lifestyle