How CA Technologies and Grainger workers push sustainability

Companies have for years invested time and money to improve the efficiency of their buildings. Lighting controls, ventilation and data management systems are just some of the tools that have helped reduce carbon footprints and costs.

But with these systems in place, many firms have reached a plateau in terms of energy savings. Companies such as CA Technologies and Grainger plc are turning to the people who occupy those buildings to take their sustainability goals further: their employees.

A recent report by Jones Lang LaSalle highlights the importance of moving beyond a few dedicated green champions to involve a broader cross-section of employees to push a company’s sustainability agenda. The report, "Global Sustainability Perspective," explores how staff play a key role in helping a company to implement its sustainability initiatives.

"As companies have made more investments, they want to ensure they get maximum return in more intense levels," said Michael Jordan, senior vice president of sustainability strategy at Jones Lang LaSalle. "The low-hanging fruit has been plucked. You now need the participation of the humans."

It's no longer enough for employees merely to be aware of a company's sustainability strategies, said Jordan. The goal ultimately should be for employees to integrate sustainability into their jobs, so that a green mentality becomes a part of what Jordan describes as the DNA of the business.

For example, once a software developer understand the importance of environmental sustainability, he or she then may change their behavior by turning off the lights or recycling at work. Taking it a step further, the developer then may write software code that is energy efficient and requires less computer processing time.

"The next thing you know, employees who are really interested and passionate are trying to figure out how to apply (this passion) to their day jobs," said Jordan.

But reaching this level of employee engagement is still the exception, he said.

"Many companies won't get there. They don't provide right application training. But the ones who do get there will see the benefits," he said.

Next page: Getting employees excited about sustainability