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Environmental Issues

Small steps for one giant green leap

October 11, 2010
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I often hear people talk about the enormity of being green, and then the project manager in me comes alive and I have to remind them that anything is possible with a project plan that can break the most monstrous goals down into doable and realistic parts.

To get your company thinking about ways it can behave in a greener and more sustainable manner you should develop a green business checklist. This gives your employees small action steps that will create the larger goal.

Here are a few areas to consider with a sample question to get you started. There are plenty more for you to go through, but this can serve as a useful thought starter.

Corporate and environmental social responsibility
Do you only invest in environmentally conscious companies?

Use your investment portfolio to only support business organizations or industries that operate in an environmentally conscious way.

Energy, water and heat
Do you make use of natural light by keeping windows and skylights clean and clear?

Don’t turn lights on in the middle of the day if you have sufficient natural light coming into your office.

Do you regularly check and fix any leaking taps?

Over the long term a leaking tap can waste a significant amount of water. Post a number to call near sinks so someone may fix it right away.

Do you keep radiators free of office furniture?

Make sure that furniture does not block the radiators as otherwise the heat will be wasted.

Environmental policy
Have you set up a ‘green team’ or ‘eco champions’ team in your company? By getting your employees involved and part of the greening process, they will feel valued.

Housekeeping
Do you have a collection point for aluminum, glass, or plastic?

It’s an easy step to start your own in-house recycling system.

Information communication technology
Do you have a green IT infrastructure?

There are now over 1.1 billion computers in operation worldwide, collectively producing about one billion tons of CO2 through their electricity requirements. Also contributing to the earth’s pollution are outdated computer equipment, mobile phones and electronic gadgets that make up 5 percent of the world’s garbage. Considering our continuing demand to have the latest and greatest in multitasking phones and so on, that’s an alarming amount of products to be tossed aside each year.

Office supplies
Do you have a printer that can print on both sides?

If you don’t have a printer that can print on both sides, then consider investing in one once your lease for the existing one is up for renewal or when your existing one no longer works.

Travel and transportation
Rather than traveling to meetings have you invested in suitable technology for conference calls? It is worthwhile investigating alternatives such as using iChat or Skype for meetings that require face time.

Wildlife and biodiversity
Have you created a wildlife area around your office or carwash building?

Even if you only have a concrete courtyard you can still create a wildlife area by planting some native plants and flowers in planters. This will be beneficial to the planet and much easier on the eyes than sterile office files.

Get what you need
Taking what you need or making use of what you have is an easy place to begin your journey to contributing to a greener you. How do you see your organization becoming more resourceful with materials and money? How will you continue to evaluate its progress towards being an eco-friendly company that you can feel proud of?

Take a small step towards this victory… and then another small step… and then another. Each step is for the generations that follow us. Walk on!


Michelle LaBrosse, MSME, PMP, is an engineer and founder of Cheetah Learning and Cheetah Power, a firm specializing in combining accelerated learning and project management. She is a former officer in the U.S. Air Force, as well as a graduate of Harvard Business Schools’ Owner President Management Program. She can be reached at michelle.labrosse@cheetahlearning.com

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