One of America’s original innovators, Benjamin Franklin, once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
It’s always nice to hear how “Innovation” is one of American’s best qualities, but the idea can be so vague that it’s hard for many of us to know what we can do on a Monday morning to begin to bring useful innovations into our organizations.
Take climate change as an example of a priority “sustainability” issue that requires immediate and rapid innovation. We now know that organizations that do not adequately assess their relationship to the threat of global warming and innovate to become more resilient will flounder in this new era. For most, failure to innovate will cost money, disaffect employees and stakeholders, and contribute to the problem instead of the solution. The good news is that by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, every organization can also simultaneously make money, set an example in their communities, AND leave a positive legacy.
Initial steps to make change
Still, those of us within these organizations need to know how to instigate the organizational changes required to measure and then reduce our GHG emissions. To do so, organizations have three basic choices. First they can build their own in-house GHG reducing expertise using public resources and online tools and tactics. A second option is that they can hire high-priced consultants who can guide organizations one on one, typically providing detailed recommendations but rarely inspiring the cultural change needed for long-term, ongoing results. A newer third option is that organizations can join peer cohort programs where they can learn to develop a custom, actionable sustainability plan in a group setting, the type of service that REV provides. Whatever option an organization chooses, the key to progress starts by credibly measuring the GHG emissions each organization is responsible for emitting and then innovating to create solutions in line with sound business strategy.
Take the City of Pleasanton After going through a peer cohort training, the city embedded practices that measured factors contributing to GHG emissions to inform where reductions could have the greatest environmental and financial impact, such as replacing street lighting with LEDs and instituting “Smart driving” crew training to conserve fuel, As a result, the city identified annual savings potential of over $390,000 — a true sustainability success story.
Solutions for GHG measurement
So where do you go to help your own company or organization to get into the game of measuring and reducing GHG emissions? A good start is to look at an overview of all the credible tools and activities in this evolving space. The federal government collects useful information and websites to describe tools and related information. Just reading the site descriptions can give you a sense of the field.
Within the list, the World Resources Institute (WRI) has excellent GHG measuring tools and many other organizational resources.
As you look at what can work for your organization also know that more and more cities are getting into the game too by joining with WRI and others to measure GHGs community wide. As such, once you begin to innovate, your organization can be a beacon for your entire community, leading the way toward even more sustainable value.
In sum, by utilizing smarter tools and tactics, increasing numbers of organizations are realizing bottom and top-line advantage and advancing their missions faster than they otherwise would. GHG measurement and reduction is a great case in point.
Is it easy? No.
By all indicators it takes courage, leadership, persistence, a dedication to science and more. But getting started can be easier than you think.
Is it worth it? Yes.
By all indicators if your organization uses the best in class tools and tactics, you can more easily measure where you are and accelerate your progress and gain the added financial and cultural benefits.
To be sure, finding lasting positive triple value improvements takes work but there are tools and tactics out there now to credibly get in the game sooner. REV’s Sustainability Circles are part of that toolkit.