The Workplace: A Starting Point to Achieve Sustainability

August 28, 2017

undefinedWhile energy demand in the GCC is increasing at some of the highest rates we’ve ever experienced in the region, there is also a growing need for sustainability measures. From governments to private organisations, sustainability, climate change and environmental protection are at the forefront of leaderships’ agendas. Just last year, the UAE launched its Energy Plan 2050 which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70% and increase clean energy use by 50%. Similarily, neighboring nations such as Saudi Arabia have committed to generating 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2023.

To meet this demand and maintain sustainable growth, organisations must adapt early and reorient themselves to these challenges. However that adaption has to be deeper than over-communicated CSR programmes – it must be deep-rooted in the organisation’s culture and that means starting with the employees. Signaling this trend, as of April 2017, more than 700 companies across the globe, representing a variety of sectors, are making commitments to adopting a sustainable approach within their offices and through their products and services.

Making sustainability core to your business doesn’t happen overnight – especially when overall electricity consumption has more than doubled in the past 10 years. It is also so much more than simply turning the lights off before leaving the office or switching off electricity when not in use. Yes, this is certainly important and should be quantified; however, it takes more than just a letter above the light switch.

It is essential for leadership to involve employees in the decision-making process and allow them to contribute to your sustainability plans. What’s more, this allows organisations to tap into your employee base for ideas which foster creativity and high levels of ownership regarding sustainabilty. When you create this collaborative atmosphere throughout your business, it becomes easier to make sustainability central to how all employees approach their jobs. And, ultimately, reaching the climate goals set forth becomes much more achievable. Ingersoll Rand (parent company of Trane) can highlight three key untapped elements of a winning culture strategy that can help companies achieve sustainabilty goals:

Setting and communicating clear GHG and energy reduction targets:

Communicating sustainability goals across all levels of an organisation ensures that the reduction of GHGs, a smaller carbon footprint, lower energy demands or any other sustainability goal is a continuous and measured priority across the company. Within Trane, this means product development that pre-empts legislation and innovates in leading technolgies addressing global environmental standards while thinking of the customers’ needs. For example, in June this year, Trane was the first in the industry to announce the widest portfolio of chillers on the European market available with near-zero GWP refrigerants combined with high efficiency operation to suit a wide variety of climate and process cooling applications including hotels, hospitals, data centres, office buildings and industries like pharmaceutical or food and beverage.

Empowering employees on environmental sustainability:

After you communicate your goals across all levels of the organisation, these sustainability goals must be made personal and allowing for real action at a local level. By tapping into the company’s most powerful resource, its employees, companies foster creativity, innovation and high levels of ownership, putting sustainability at the heart of how employees do their jobs.

For example, during this year’s World Facility Manager (FM) Day (May 17) Trane employees around the world took to social media to honour facility management professionals and the vital work they do in not only ensuring the productivity, health and safety of buildings, but also in managing the direct impact on the sustainability of our world that our buildings have. The connection of our employees with their customers is made all the stronger by both their work and guidance on customers’ energy strategies but also because they understand the connection with higher environmental sustainability goals.

Measuring, including aggregating and recognising results:

It’s important for employees to understand that meeting sustainability goals doesn’t just help the company—it helps customers, communities and the world. But you can only recognise the goals and results that you measure.

One way to do this is to create a global system that tracks the actions taken against the sustainability goals. At Ingersoll Rand, we implemented our “Environmental Management System” three years ago to track all our environmental actions in any location, allowing us to show progress at the local and global level.

Creating a winning culture that drives sustainability isn’t something that happens overnight, but it is something that can be built over time, driven by an empowered employee base. Regardless of an organisation’s specific sustainability goals or the methods used to meet them, ensuring your employees have direct input into these goals, understand them, feel empowered to help meet them, and are given recognition for their contributions will help ensure everyone works toward a better future, both globally and in our own communities.

 

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