Creating a Culture of Sustainability


According to Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainability DashboardTools, a web-based system that helps facilities measure and monitor their consumption and use of natural resources, there are four things necessary for a business to create what he calls “a culture of sustainability.”

A culture of sustainability exists “when all staff members support a healthy environment, strive to improve the lives of workers in their organization as well as people in their local community, while continuing to create a business that is financially successfully over the long term,” said Ashkin. To make this a reality, businesses must practice the following “Four Es”:

Educate.Business owners must educate staff as to the value of sustainability for the organization and employees as well as the local community. The goal here is to make this a shared value, supported by all those in the organization.

Engage. Once the value of sustainability is clearly defined and understood, owners must make sustainability visible. Business owners and managers must agree on sustainability goals and targets and find ways to measure and monitor those goals. “Measuring and monitoring make the entire process ‘real’ for staff members,” said Ashkin.

Empower.Encourage, on an ongoing basis, everyone in the organization to get involved with the sustainability initiatives. Continue to have meetings and form a ‘sustainability team’ to lead, direct and encourage everyone to get on board with the organization’s sustainability initiatives,” said Ashkin. “Sustainability goals are easier to achieve when everyone is involved at all levels of an organization.”

Experiment. Allow small groups of motivated people to experiment with different ways to promote sustainability. Examples of this could be a recycling scrap metal and conveyor belts, using solar power for second-shift plant lighting implementing energy audits to track power consumption. “Try to drive change from the bottom up,” Ashkin advised. “This is one of the most successful ways to develop a culture of sustainability.”