The Sustainability Officer's Handbook

How to Emerge Greener and Stronger from the Recession

Businesses are being told from all sides that they should show their corporate responsibility and their commitment to future profits by "going green". But the advice usually comes without precise instructions about how to get there. Good resolutions can be easier to make than to put into effect! Not every business has environmental experts on staff - so what are they to do? The cost of hiring consultants can seem out of reach, particularly in these recessionary times when money is hard to come by.

The Sustainability Officer's Handbook is the resource that businesses need. Subtitled A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Your Organization Become Sustainable, it is  a comprehensive manual for managers about how to become green in an orderly, attainable way. It features user-friendly checklists that will guide managers to:

  • Minimize the use of energy
  • Maximise the efficient use of natural resources
  • Avoid waste altogether
  • Create new and better products
  • Reduce the risks of legal liabilities for causing harm to people or nature
  • Provide an enhanced quality of life for all stakeholders

The checklists ensure that managers focus on the important tasks, ask the right questions, and make effective plans. Because every business faces its own sustainability challenges, a clear focus is kept on the need to measure costs and benefits so that only those steps are taken that will have real profit-making value to the business.

Extracts from the book:

"It is useful to have the force of upper management on one's side. If the CEO of your organization communicates clearly that he or she is committed to sustainability, and that all employees should help you carry out audits and put plans into effect, you are more likely to experience the support of your co-workers. Ideally, the CEO will also agree that employees can earn bonuses or other incentives for successfully carrying out sustainability plans. Orders from on high, backed by compensation incentives, can be hugely motivational, and this strategy is something that you should suggest to your CEO."

                                                       The Sustainability Officer's Handbook, page 6


"The old saying If it is not measured, it won't be managed is as true for sustainability as it is for any other activity. All corporations need information about matters that are important to their success. Financial information has typically been the single most important concern for managers under the business-as-usual approach, and the economic performance of your corporation remains a matter of key importance under the sustainability approach. But the corporation's environmental and social performance are just as important. If your corporation is going to pursue sustainability, you will have to introduce concrete ways to measure your success in all areas."

                                                       The Sustainability Officer's Handbook, page 12

"Checklists for buildings and lands audits appear immediately after Part 2 in this chapter. When you go through the checklists, you will see that topics cover energy consumption (lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling), GHG emissions, use of materials and water, wastes, maintenance costs, building controls (monitoring energy use, sensors for light and carbon dioxide), lighting, indoor air quality, and storage of toxic and hazardous materials...Your goal will be to make your corporation's buildings green. One of the advantages of green buildings is that they are more desirable workplaces for employees than traditional ones. The enticing features include access to natural light, fresh air, views of gardens or greenery, and individual control of the indoor environment around every workstation. Buildings with these features experience less absenteeism, higher productivity, and higher employee retention over time. Your human resources department (or its equivalent) should be able to provide statistics about employee absenteeism, productivity, and retention. It may seem strange that building performance measurements should come from the human resources department, but one of the insights of sustainability is that a holistic view should be taken of all the corporation's activities. The fundamental purpose of your buildings is to enable productive work, so developing a more productive workforce is a desirable reason to consider change."

                                                       The Sustainability Officer's Handbook, page 41

"The best approach to pollution prevention is to design systems that are free of all polluting contaminants. If your corporation's activities currently involve using or creating contaminants, then you should be encouraging research to find non-contaminating alternatives. The elimination of contaminants is a design task that should be constantly revisited with your employees. Eliminating a contaminant can have multiple benefits: no more special training, no more hazardous materials meetings, no more protective clothing, no more special storage rooms, no more expensive treatments, smaller insurance premiums. Even switching from the use of a more toxic contaminant to a less toxic one represents progress. For example, the dry-cleaning industry used to depend on perchloroethylene (perc) as a key cleaning product, although it posed health risks to the workers who were constantly exposed to it. Research found that dense-phase carbon dioxide (supercritical CO₂) was a far less toxic alternative. The resulting product was branded as DryWash. (In other applications, it cleans semiconductor wafers and can even extract caffeine from coffee.)"

                                                       The Sustainability Officer's Handbook, page 119


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