Target Meaningful Projects
Your green team’s agenda is often dictated by corporate sustainability goals, tenant demands, and operational expenses.
“Many companies will start with initiatives that impact the bricks and mortar of a building – energy management, water conservation, landscaping practices, and waste diversion,” Snow explains. “These are functional areas that are attractive to improve.”
They also tend to be economically feasible, have quick paybacks, engage employees, provide high visibility, and are easy to roll out.
“Green cleaning, carbon footprint, and water conservation are popular areas to focus on,” notes McFadden. “Waste reduction also yields many opportunities with recycling, reuse, cradle-to-cradle procurement, and composting programs.”
The team might develop policies for telecommuting, car sharing, bike racks, and sustainable catering.
As an auxiliary to your FM department, the group may also be assigned to research the viability of specific projects, such as certifications, a vegetated roof, or occupancy controls. They could even oversee data population for programs such as ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager.
An often overlooked area of sustainability is occupant health, says Snow. Indoor air quality, daylighting, and green cleaning have all been shown to have a strong bearing on employee satisfaction, productivity, and absenteeism.
Plan for Long-Term Success
As with any group, green teams can peter out if they aren’t structured to keep the wheels perpetually in motion.
Make sure your green team hasn’t been formed with an expiration date, says Snow. If members were tapped to usher a building through the LEED process, for example, what happens after the certification has been achieved? The group no longer has a purpose and often disbands.
The group also needs to establish benchmarks, collect data, and measure results for all projects in order to prove return on investment.
“Sometimes green teams have to overcome the myth that sustainability is incompatible with economic prosperity,” adds McFadden.
It’s also important to note the limitations of a green team. These groups provide an invaluable service, but they can only be tasked to do so much.
“Some companies mistakenly think that by forming a committee, they’re going to change their facility operations. A committee should be a recommending body, not an execution group,” Snow stresses. “They’re not designed to implement projects – that’s where the FM department steps in.”
Jennie Morton firstname.lastname@example.org is associate editor of BUILDINGS.