(ARA) - As companies increasingly turn their attention to the environmental impact of doing business, they are learning that sustainable practices help reduce costs and increase efficiency. An effective sustainability plan not only assesses how to reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and minimize waste to landfills, but also fosters employee investment in a “go green” culture and lifestyle at home.
One area where many companies are directly reducing their environmental impact is through the management of their supply chain. Working with their suppliers, companies can reduce excess packaging and waste by insisting products be shipped in multi-packs or reusable containers. For example, Lockheed Martin has achieved cost savings through a new program with Staples by purchasing green products, including recycled paper, which has saved nearly 9,000 trees in one year alone.
Some companies are creating a “go green” culture by taking steps to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, purchasing renewable energy credits and setting up “green zones,” where employees commit to reducing their energy use. LEED certified buildings help reduce energy costs and efficiency and reinforce a company’s commitment to sustainability.
Supporting environmental education programs and initiatives of environmental organizations helps employees to get involved in environmental initiatives outside of the company and learn more about how they can support sustainability efforts. Lockheed Martin supports environmental education as part of its overall science, technology, engineering and math outreach efforts. Its engineers lead classroom events using environmental science lesson plans and the company sponsors National Environmental Education Week that precedes Earth Day.
Dr. David Constable, corporate vice president of energy, environment, safety and health for Lockheed Martin, suggests that companies consider the following when developing sustainable business processes:
1. Set ambitious but reasonable goals to reduce environmental impacts
Identify areas where the company can reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and reduce waste through recycling. These initiatives often result in significant cost savings for companies that execute them properly.
2. Develop employee programs and incentives to encourage participation in sustainability initiatives
Offer employees who make an ENERGY STAR pledge a worthwhile incentive. Disseminate information about how they can reduce energy use at home and in the office.
3. Consolidate data servers and IT operations where possible
Reducing the number of data servers ultimately lowers electricity use, frees up office space and results in significant cost savings.
4. Identify projects that will help to reduce the use of natural resources and disposal of waste to landfills
Implementing a comprehensive recycling program is a simple, cost-efficient way to reduce waste going to the landfill.
Effective corporate sustainability practices equal responsible business practices. Minimizing carbon emissions, reducing waste to landfill and conserving water are not only environmental imperatives but essential to reducing costs and maximizing efficiency.
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