How to Build an Effective Green Team

10/01/2013 | By Jennie Morton

Turn grassroots enthusiasm into sustainable progress

A sustainability advisor group can help fulfill your company’s green objectives. Task your team with research, outreach, and refinement projects for best results.

How much time does your FM team have to spare for sustainability initiatives?

If the answer is less than you would like, a green team can be a valuable ally in your quest for better facilities management.

Often referred to as sustainability advisory groups, green teams are more than ad hoc committees filled with enthusiastic volunteers. To arm your green ambassadors with true staying power, make sure this group has formal oversight, tools for measurement and verification, and a clear mission.

Spell Out Objectives
Green teams can be tasked with a variety of goals – it all depends on what kind of sustainable goals you want them to fulfill for your business.

“The goal of any green team is to share ideas, knowledge, and best practices that focus on the triple bottom line of environmental sustainability,” says Roger McFadden, vice president and senior scientist for Staples.

Most advisory groups will focus on four key objectives:

  1. Outreach – serve as an educational body for occupants and customers to build awareness and buy-in.
  2. Resources – research tools and resources that will support sustainability objectives, such as certifications, assessments, metrics, and cost factors.
  3. Proposals – identify initiatives that will bolster green building operations.
  4. Refinement – promote continuous improvement and expansion of the program.

The sustainability advisory group should act as a clearing house by evaluating the feasibility of green practices and creating action plans for implementation.

Select Key Players
The sustainability group is typically a mixture of volunteers who have a grassroots passion and key players from various departments, recommends Brian Snow, CEO of Pristine Environments, an FM service provider.

In additional to facilities management, the team’s leadership can be culled from numerous places, such as corporate social responsibility, marketing, human resources, or legal.

“You may also need to have your green team led by a third-party consultant, particularly if your organization isn’t large enough to have a dedicated director of sustainability,” adds Snow.

Other players to include are your service providers – think recycling, waste management, janitorial, landscaping, and pest control. Many green initiatives fall under these areas, so make sure contracted companies have a seat at the green table, Snow stresses.

No matter who serves on the advisory group, make sure the team has the backing of corporate leadership.

“If these teams don’t get endorsement from senior management, they can often be a superficial entity because they lack the necessary resources to be effective,” McFadden cautions.

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