Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why green matters


By Michelle LaBrosse

Being "green" has long-been a "nice-to-have" item on the list of business goals for many organizations. While many may have dismissed eco-friendly business decisions as a "feel-good" activity to take part in occasionally, the weak economy has given green a whole new meaning.

Examining ways to stretch the dollar and resources in an organization can ultimately serve double duty: both having a positive impact on the bottom line and on the environment.

Simple changes like replacing paper coffee cups with washable mugs or switching from printed marketing materials to (opt-in) email blasts can save both money and trees.

Providing tools for staff to operate from virtual offices saves money on commuting, reduces the energy needed to support large offices, ultimately reducing pollution from both scenarios.

"Thinking Green" should be a part of everyone's job but project management is one place where it can have a key role in decisions made. After all, project managers are masters at being resourceful and weighing options to find the fastest, least expensive and most powerful solutions to getting the job done.

I've been incorporating eco-friendly ideas and solutions into my personal life and business for many years now. To help you get started, I've shared my personal top five ways to bring some green ingenuity to your every day project management.

Some initial green ideas

Once you fold these into your regular routine, you'll find there are hundreds of other ways to expand up on these ideas. Here are some baby steps to get started:

  • Have a "reuse" mentality and lead by example
  • Think before you print
  • Use environmental or natural cleaning products
  • Support and buy the products of other vendors and suppliers who are eco-friendly
  • Buy office equipment with the best energy ratings
  • Switch off computers, photocopiers and other equipment when not being used [There is some debate on this among IT professionals, so use your own judgment based on how much usage you put these devices through. --Ed.]
  • Put automatic timers or sensor lights in your bathroom, conference rooms or spaces that are not occupied the majority of the day
  • Use as much natural light as possible in the design of your office space
  • Support virtual office employees or support car-pooling and ride sharing if in a suburban area
  • If you can't produce your own energy, look for a supplier that is producing green energy in your area
  • If you're in a rural area, can you create a wildlife trust around your company's property?

As an exercise, price out the difference between the way you are doing these things now and the long-term cost of the suggestions above. Then ask yourself how these decisions will impact the quality of life for your staff and where you'd invest the money saved.