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Green Teams
Tips and Best Practices
green team logo  Green teams are self-organized, grassroots and cross-functional groups of employees who voluntarily come together to educate, inspire and empower employees around sustainability.
They identify and implement specific solutions to help their agency operate in a more environmentally sustainable fashion. Most green teams initially focus on greening operations at the office, addressing such issues as recycling in the office, composting food waste, reducing the use of disposable take-out containers and eliminating plastic water bottles.

This focus on operations is evolving and some green teams are beginning to focus their efforts on integrating sustainability into employees’ personal lives, while others are aligning their efforts to support broader statewide sustainability objectives. The business value of integrating sustainability into these three levels includes: cost savings by integrating energy efficiency into the workplace and products and services; attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent who want to work for state government because of its authentic green commitment; and increased taxpayer goodwill resulting from new, innovative green practices and programs.
 
Green Team Best Practices
• Start with the visible and tangible: focus on internal operations
• Get senior management involved, but don’t lose the grassroots energy
• Engage employees to capture ideas
• Communicate and share best practices
• Engage employees with their bellies: the low carbon diet campaign
• Engage employees in their personal lives
• Engage customers to be part of the solution
• Use art to raise awareness
• Create a toolkit to support and guide green teams
• Align green teams with statewide and agency-specific sustainability goals
 
Rules of the Green Team
exec green team
Executive Bldg
Green Team
To begin the path to your agency’s environmental responsibility, it is important to begin with a frank, executive-level discussion about where you are and where you want to be. It is possible that every agency can work on basic steps toward reducing its impact on the world.
 
• Rule 1: Executive support - One member of the team must be from the executive staff to show not only executive buy-in but also have access to the management team so that decisions can be made quickly. The goal of this group member is to: listen openly to ideas from the team; guide discussions toward actionable plans; and, set expectations for direction of the team and funding.
• Rule 2: Commitment - The executive team must commit to reviewing the suggestions and discoveries of the team with the intention to take action. All your employees will be watching the actions of this team. If every idea is swatted down by management, then you may be doing more harm than good to morale. Make sure that this team is empowered to make real change in your organization.
• Rule 3: Diversity - Other members of the team should be from different divisions and groups and hold positions. Have one person from operations, policy, human resources, accounting, and administrative support. You can designate these members or ask for volunteers to get the most passionate and engaged people involved in your team.
• Rule 4: Size - Limit the size of the team to 10 to 12 people. While this number may seem small for very large agencies, it is very difficult to get anything accomplished in very large teams. However, while the team is small, different divisions could establish small sub-groups to generate ideas to bring back to the group.
• Rule 5: Unleash the creativity of your people - This is one excellent opportunity to tap the creativity of your staff. Encourage the team to think of creative ideas to reduce waste and energy or increase buy-in from their coworkers. Make it clear that this is not just a cost-cutting exercise but a way to increase the value of your services while having an impact on the planet.
 
Green Team Suggestions

Each suggestion should include:
• A clear simple definition of the action taken (one sentence or less)
• A quantifiable benefit that the agency will receive from implementing the action along with intangible benefits (employee satisfaction, morale)
• An outline of the costs of the program
• Summary of the risks associated with the action
• How the action will be tracked, measured and reported to the executive team and employees
Some projects may not have an immediate and quantifiable benefit. However, there will always be a benefit in terms of employee satisfaction and improved taxpayer perception, for example. There is a value in those items to the executive team, and the team's executive sponsor can help.

Here is an example:
• Action: Reduce the energy consumption of our operations by upgrading the lighting in our building to more efficient lamps and ballasts.
• Benefit:Reduce energy consumption by 5%, resulting in total savings $30,000 per year.
• Outline:Initial cost of $100,000 with annual savings of $30,000 resulting in a 3.33 year simple payback. Plus, additional incentives from the Energy Trust of Oregon could offset that further.
Risks:Initial costs come out of operating budget and require limitation. This effects agency’s budget request.
Tracking:Energy use will be tracked and reported quarterly.
Celebrate success!
The most important action of the green team is to celebrate success. This could be on your agency’s intranet or newsletter. Your agency’s communication staff could issue a press release explaining what it is doing to help the environment. At this point, the team has worked hard, and the agency must celebrate wins to continue success and encourage employees to keep taking steps toward environmental sustainability for the agency and for themselves. 
  
Make your nomination for the 2013 Green Awards coming soon. Nominations due by January 22, 2013.  See the EarthWISE Bulletin Winter 2013. 
  
Learn more about the EarthWISE recertification at  http://www.co.marion.or.us/PW/ES/wastereduction/earthwise/index.htm
revenue green team
Revenue Building Green Team receives EarthWISE award
 
Sources: greenbiz.com and greenimpact.wordpress.com 
 
 

Resources
  • DAS Sustainability Program Web site: Information on green teams in DAS buildings.
  • Energy Star: Bring your green to work. A very informative website on green teams and green workplace initiatives that was created by the U.S. Department of Energy. 
  • Greenbiz: Business Voice of the Green Economy. A private sector website with good information on forming teams and defining projects.
  • Greenimpact: Inspiring collaboration and green innovation. A private sector collection of articles from business leaders; many of the articles center around green teams. 
 
 
 
 

Next Steps
If you'd like to start a Green Team in your building, contact Real Estate Services Division, at 503-378-2865.