Everyone wants to be Green. Where do we start?

Online Advice Doesn’t Always Help:
Green advice is cheap, I’m offering it now. Sure, it may seem easy to have google lead you in the right direction, but your home town gardening blog might not offer the most comprehensive thinking on reducing your organizations carbon footprint. Thanks to the internet, there have been hundreds of editorials and advice columns published that offer environmental advice. It’s a buzz in every industry. Whitepapers and blogs have changed the landscape in how we approach our work. Anyone can consider them self an expert or a source of information. It’s a tricky job to find a definitive guide to a sound sustainable development plan tailored for their organization’s need. The concept of sustainable development has received growing recognition, but it’s a new idea for many business executives. For most, the concept remains abstract and theoretical. In this paper I’ll offer the foundation steps to creating a sustainable development plan.

You don’t need to overlap expenses to get started:
A consulting service can be the way to go for those who have the budget and study time. In this economy very few can. The complexity of day to day operations and the economic objectives that are associated with most projects commonly conflict with environmental goals. Be careful not to greenwash what you do. Have a plan, implement it, measure it and report it. Your organizations reputation is at stake, internally and externally. In my work, although I can’t personally attest to the quality of their practices, I have yet to come across consultancies that understand the inner works of a company. Introducing a third party typically is a recipe for lost time and money. In my experience, success typically comes with the continuity of your industry expert and a shared plan that measures both environmental impact data as well as economical impact data. This data combined typically reveals the best place to start with good impact out of the gate.

First Step Planning:
The planning phase of the process is where determining the correct criteria becomes essential; in accounting terms, this would be a Gap Analysis – essentially a forward-looking audit. This pre-planning will serve you well; you will know exactly which data you need to track, and the actual gathering of information will look less foreign and become routine.

You will want to track sustainability issues that conform to accepted standards, but make sure you also overlap the economic impact that is critical to the decision process.
Also integrated into the planning phase should be your protocol; that is, a determination of who tracks each indicator and who will record the progress. A highly solution is to simply make the reporting part of your service provider’s basic responsibility.

The processes should be in effect for inspections and checks of the sustainability criteria.  This will ensure the waste is really being disposed of as you thought, or that recycled materials are actually deverted from landfills.

Implementation
As your plan progresses, progress should be recorded to ensure that your team is on track. These progress reports can be used to develop communication and marketing material to retell your accomplishments later.
Telling environmental stories are more than just “fluff”. Regular communication of sustainability achievements provides a way for the lay audience to engage and understand why you are doing certain things.

Measuring Success
Gathering feedback from the communication measures you undertook is an essential part of measuring success. A formal version of feedback will be an auditing and assessment of your protocol. This will give internal confirmation of your sustainable development plan as well as external credibility that you are up to standard.
So there you have it – sustainability and environmental reporting in a nutshell. Hopefully this outline will provide some guidance to clear the fog of reporting, and get you on a fasttrack to success. Sounds easy, right?