The Business Case for Environmental and Sustainability Employee Education

This white paper from the National Environmental Education Foundation provides examples of an emerging trend in the business community in employee engagement and education.

From the introduction to the report:

A survey of more than 1,300 business professionals, conducted as part of that report, found that 85 percent of respondents see E&S knowledge as valuable, particularly in new hires while 78 percent said that knowledge would rise in importance over the next five years.

The "business case" -- that is, the quantification of opportunities and risks -- for environmental and sustainability education might not yet be heavy on data. But anecdotes from around the world give clear indications that teaching employees to conserve, recycle, improve efficiency and reduce waste, among other actions, have benefits for employees, companies and communities.

In fact, the success stories from companies ranging from retail giant Walmart to a seven-person apparel company show similarities. Employees on the company's front lines are in the best position to identify and implement environmental and sustainability (E&S) practices. And those practices lead to numerous benefits.

This publication takes a more in-depth look at specific examples where companies saved money, improved efficiency, built stronger customer relations -- or succeeded in doing all three -- through E&S education programs, presenting a compelling business case for knowledgeable employees.

• Lockheed Martin "Green Teams" have improved energy efficiency at company sites nationwide.1At one Arkansas facility, green teams have implemented software upgrades, reduced waste and improved plumbing. Better management of lighting and air conditioning led to more than $200,000 in savings -- as well as reduced CO2 emissions by 2,332 metric tons.

• eBay's "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 so far.

• McDonald's restaurants in Japan participates in the government's "Team Minus 6%" program to reduce CO2emissions by 2.2 pounds per person, per day, by offering a discount to consumers who registered to participate in the program. During the 2007 campaign, McDonald's restaurants and their employees helped raise the number of participants from 40,000 to 380,000, resulting in a reduction of over 3 million pounds of CO2.

• Employees at Citigroup, along with retail clients around the world, are working to reduce paper waste by educating and encouraging customers to switch to electronic statements rather than mailed paper ones.

• Baxter's participation in "World Environment Week" during early June 2009 proved successful in encouraging employee engagement and volunteerism. Employee-led projects in more than 70 locations included upgrading sales fleets to hybrid vehicles and visiting schools.

Download the full report from the NEEF website.