The Sustainable Office – Part 10: Measure and Report Sustainability Performance

Here we are. The final installation in the 10-part series on sustainability in your office has arrived. Just to recap briefly, here is a list of the previous nine topics covered in The Sustainable Office.

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1. Computers

2. Lighting

3. Paper and Ink

4. Commuting

5. Packaging

6. Water

7. Air

8. Furniture

9. Food

And the final, most important, sustainable-est thing you can ever do for your office: Measure and Report Sustainability Performance!!!

That’s right. If you don’t believe me, just ask Lord Kelvin: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” What a man.

Measure your performance

The best way to improve on things is to know where you stand, make improvement goals, make an action plan, and then measure again to see if you have met your goals. Measuring your business’ performance and creating performance indicators allows you to identify the areas in which you can improve the most or that need the most attention. Measuring performance can lead to improvement in any area of your business, whether it is sales, amount of paper used per month, or kg garbage per employee (if you are wondering how to measure your company’s garbage, that’s why God invented interns).

Measuring your company’s performance can have a motivating and positive effect of your employees. Solid numbers, goals, and a real action plan showing how to achieve those goals can motivate your employees to work toward improving the company on a daily basis. Comparing the performance of employees is very often used as a way of determining bonuses or giving other incentives, but creating this kind of competition among your employees is not always the best idea.

Measuring environmental performance on an individual employee or office-wide level can be used to create friendly competition to see who can reduce the most. The Prius is a good example of friendly environmental competition. It constantly measures and updates your miles per gallon, and it is actually fun to see who can get the high score, even if that means driving 23 miles an hour to reduce wind resistance. Similarly, measuring kWh per month for your office and then setting reduction goals or competing against another company office to see who can consume the least per employee can encourage employees to subtly change their behavior, which can have significant impacts.

It also allows you to highlight your best performance areas, which you can then report and share with your stakeholders. Making your stakeholders aware of your practices and policies is generally a good business practice as it increases trust and improves the reputation of your company in the community. Creating a formal sustainability report can increase your business’ visibility and establish you as an early leader in sustainability.

Establishing a regular reporting period increases the accountability of your business as stakeholders begin to expect not just a report but progressive improvement. Regular sustainability reporting also adds structure and legitimacy to your business its policies, and its practices.

If you implement all ten of the tips suggested, or even just using tidbits from each one, your office will become a much more sustainable, more productive environment. While your employees may not immediately appreciate the fact that you replaced the candy machine with a seasonal fruit basket, or that you have stopped wearing deodorant as you believe it is wasteful, they are bound to enjoy more natural light, plants, and, in the long run, their better health thanks to a healthier lifestyle. Meanwhile, due to increased overall employee happiness and health, you can sit back and enjoy the increased productivity and employee retention thanks to the sustainable office you created.

So that’s it for The Sustainable Office. It’s been a good ride. We had a few laughs, a few tears, and in the end, I think we are all better people for having gone through this. I thank you for meandering through the world of sustainability with me, and I hope that you adopt some of the things mentioned. If you are ever in doubt about whether or not to adopt a practice for your office, ask yourself this: WWCPD (What Would Captain Planet Do?).

If you do adopt some of these practices, let Verteego and your shareholders know by creating your sustainability report!