The Evolving Roles of COOs in Sustainability: Driving Environmental Initiatives Across Operations

May 29, 2024 | Sustainability

Sustainability is a hot-button topic in any industry. Companies that make the environment a priority go beyond doing their part to combat climate change. They raise satisfaction among customers and employees.

COOs can help by promoting sustainability across operations. They must build a culture of eco-friendliness within their teams. Here are some strategies that will make your office a greener place.

Support Environmental Causes

Your company can become more environmental by supporting eco-friendly causes and nonprofits. For example, you may choose to partner with an organization that targets carbon emissions. Consider donating a portion of your profits to their cause.

Employees will feel like a bigger part of the initiative if they become directly involved. You can encourage them to volunteer with the nonprofit you support. You can even spearhead work-related events that raise money for the cause.

Establish Environmental Goals

Your organization should have environmental goals that everyone is aware of. You may choose to reduce your carbon emissions by 10%, or you may target a 20% decrease in energy use.

Your goals should be clearly defined throughout your organization. Send out materials to make all employees aware of these goals. Continue to measure them and keep everyone posted on your progress.

Make things interesting by using digital displays or handmade graphs to let employees know how you are reaching environmental goals each day, week, month, or year.

Promote Environmental Practices Throughout the Office

Employees should not only be aware of environmental goals. They should understand how they can partake in helping your company reach those goals. Here are some ways to promote the culture within the office.

  • Encourage employees to “power down” after work
  • Place recycling bins throughout the office
  • Create a carpool program in the workplace
  • Encourage employees to bike, walk, or take public transportation to work
  • Ask employees to delete old computer files that take up storage space and require devices to use more energy to operate

Remodeling Efforts That Can Help the Environment

Leaders can do their part with small office remodels and additions that promote a more sustainable environment. Examples include:

  • Use smart thermostats in the office
  • Go paperless
  • Invest in office plants to promote a cleaner interior environment
  • Place reusable dishware in the breakroom
  • Set up a water station to reduce plastic bottle waste
  • Install a coffee maker to reduce coffee cup waste
  • Use LED lights throughout the office- use natural lighting when possible
  • Donate or recycle old electronics
  • Use environmental cleaning products in the office
  • Install low-flow toilets and faucet aerators in the bathrooms
  • Replace paper towels with hand dryers
  • Install bike racks in the parking area
  • Create carpool spaces

Make Sustainability Part of the Conversation

Promote sustainability by hosting meetings that focus on eco-friendly practices. Discuss how your office is reaching its environmental goals. Determine what you can do to increase sustainability.

Suggest events you can host inside and outside of the office to promote sustainability in your community. You can host an event that promotes sustainability awareness. Other ideas include community cleanups and tree plantings.

Partner with Sustainable Vendors

Work with vendors that align with your sustainability goals. Inquire about their approach to water conservation, energy efficiency, and waste management. Companies that focus on environmentalism should have a plan that outlines their efforts so you can feel confident you are working with the right partner.

You can also ensure an environmental relationship by creating standards that vendors must adhere to. If you update your standards, make vendors aware so they can do their part. For example, you can ask vendors to switch out products for eco-friendly alternatives.

If the vendor cannot meet your standards, you may choose to work with a different vendor.

Go Remote When Possible

The growing remote landscape supports sustainability by minimizing the need to commute. Companies can promote a remote work environment by allowing employees to stay home if possible. They can suggest virtual meetings over in-person meetings.

In addition to helping the environment, remote work also saves time and money. It increases worker and colleague satisfaction and promotes loyalty and productivity.

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