Why Bringing Employees on Board Helps Sustainability Projects Succeed

WASHINGTON, DC — Getting employees engaged and educated on sustainability practices and a company's specific green goals can save millions by boosting efficiency and making those goals more likely to succeed.

That is the top-level finding of a new study by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which finds that environmental and sustainability (E&S) employee education and engagement initiatives can boost the bottom line, reduce environmental impacts, and  help retain and attract talent.

“While in the past, most environmental education programs were primarily for environmental safety and health employees, many companies now realize that to achieve their sustainability goals, they need to involve the entire workforce (or all their employees),” said Diane Wood, president of NEEF, in a statement. “Successful employee engagement programs motivate employees and can be an asset in recruitment and retention."

The report, "The Business Case for Environmental and Sustainability Employee Education," takes an in-depth look at examples where companies used E&S programs to save money, improved efficiency, built stronger customer relations — or all three.

Among the case studies in the report is eBay, whose dedicated Green Team encouraged the company to build San Jose, California's largest commercial solar installation, reducing CO2 emissions by over one million pounds a year and saving $100,000 to date. (The company's green team was recently profiled by Marc Gunther on GreenBiz.com.)

Some of the other examples highlighted in the report include:

• Lockheed Martin “Green Teams” improved energy efficiency at company sites nationwide, reduced waste and saved money by better managing the use of lighting and air conditioning. Lighting system upgrades at one facility have saved more than $300,000 and reduced carbon dioxide reductions by 2,511 metric tons.

• Environmental initiatives at Baxter International Inc. totaled nearly $91.1 million in savings and cost avoidance over the last six years.

“The case studies in this report demonstrate that employee environmental education and engagement helps a business achieve its sustainability goals while also reducing costs,” Margaret Lindeman, a sustainability strategist at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement.

More information about the report, "The Business Case for Environmental and Sustainability Employee Education," is available from GreenBiz.com. To read more case studies and download the full report, visit NEEFUSA.org.