Sustainability–The Silent Megatrend

Bottom-up implementation. Interestingly, while sustainability goals and direction must come from the top, it is crucially important to have the direct support and involvement of staff members at every level of the organization. This is often called “bottom-up” sustainability implementation. The initiatives can be accomplished only when staffers are empowered to become directly involved in strategizing and suggesting ways for the organization to meet its goals. After all, top-level executives can set goals for an organization, but it is those people actually doing the work who typically turn those goals into reality.

Measurement. Measuring the results of a sustainability program is essential to its success. Typically, this is accomplished by the use of dashboard systems—web-based systems that help benchmark, monitor, and measure an organization’s use of energy, fuel, water, consumables (such as paper products and cleaning supplies), and other metrics. This will be obvious to many administrators, who support the old adage: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Having ways to measure the success of sustainability initiatives is crucial to creating a culture in which all employees are motivated to meet its goals.

Why Sustainability Should Matter

In the past, few people in the United States would have believed that petroleum would someday be in short supply or that even water, our most vital resource, might be subject to chronic restrictions. Unfortunately, it is now common knowledge that we must find ways to use our resources more carefully.

The good news is that implementing sustainability almost always creates a win-win situation for organizations, allowing them to do better for the environment and the people in their communities, while also reducing costs. These savings can also help close the gap between the goals and aspirations of recreation and facility managers and the ever-tightening budgets they must work with.

* This is often referred to as the “triple-bottom line,” a phrase first coined in 1994 by John Elkington, the founder of a British consulting organization called SustainAbility.

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in greening the cleaning industry, and CEO of Sustainability Tool LLC, an electronic dashboard that allows organizations to measure and report on their sustainability efforts. He is also coauthor of both The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies.

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