A sustainable best practices program involves a comprehensive and holistic approach that encompasses everything a business does that impacts the environment. A best practices program assists companies in making systematic changes in areas like emissions, energy, transportation, water and waste.
A sustainability initiative involves the development and implementation of green ideas and goals. Crucial to this process is the development of metrics that track and monitor performance. Also important is the identification and response to challenges, opportunities and threats.
Some well known evironmental guides and certification systems include the GRI G3 Guidelines , ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 14004:2004 . Most sustainable best practices programs address at least six key areas. Here is an alphebtical summary of the basic areas that are central to environmental sustainability.
Assemble a company green team that will serve as the sustainability steering committee. This dedicated team is important to making and maintaining sustainable changes. The green team should have representatives from different departments. Policies should be written for the employee manual on energy, water, waste, transportation and pollution prevention. The green team is in charge of the development and implementation of these policies.
Emissions and Indoor Air Quality
Record and manage emissions, set targets for emissions reductions. Review physical infrasructure, building materials and furnishings. Source materials that have less impact on indoor air quality (Use carpets, furniture, paints, adhesives and cleaning products that are associated with less noxious outgassing).
Monitor and manage energy consumption. Implement energy efficiency program including energy reduction targets for IT, manufacturing, lighting, heating and cooling.
Track the mileage of all company vehicles and work on finding more expedient travel routes. Employ more fuel efficient modes of transport including hybrid and fully electric vehicles.
Water Reduction Strategies
Monitor water consumption and develop strategies for water reduction. Effective strategies can begin with something as simple as retrofitted faucets with low-flow aerators.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
Log waste and develop a strategy for waste reduction and recycling. Summarize the waste stream and identify targets for waste reduction. Develop a recycling program with a good plan including logistics that detail how recycled materials will be collected and stored.
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