Giving Green a Voice at the Table

May 23, 2011 11:00 AM ET

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) May 23, 2011 - Frankly, the idea of a Green officer in the company is relatively new and ill-defined so far.  The concept, however, is fairly simple.  The Green officer is the appointed, in-house  liaison for an environmental program for a business.  This person often wears more than one hat and may not be fully prepared to fulfill the duties of this important office.  A little training is the recommended next step for your Green officer.

The Green officer is often an appointed role, but does not come with a book of instructions.  The development of a Green officer is perhaps one of the smartest moves for a forward-thinking company.   Therefore, the Green office should be encouraged to take some quality training which will actually be the smart move for the company.  A trained Green officer can grow into  a Certified Green Officer.  The training is offered online and seems to be everything needed for the job.

Executive Order #13514 is one of the best references for this topic.  This was signed by President Obama in Sept. 2009 and provides a basic guide for a sustainable operation.  The Green or sustainability officer was to prepare a “Sustainability Plan” for the company.  A sustainability plan is simply a step-by-step program a for the Greening of the company over a one year period.  This requires a working knowledge of the company that can be merged with a doable plan that will transition of company to a sustainable operation in doable steps.

Regardless of the actual position in the company, this person provides a valuable service to the company.  The CSO is an important contributor to the decision-making information flow.   The management of the company should not isolate this person, but allow them to have a voice or opinion in the planning of the company.  No environmental program should overwhelm to company program, but sustainable improvements should provide some better ideas for management to consider in the plans and decisions that will be made.

Take, for example, a decision to remodel some part of the office.  Such opportunities can go forward poorly or smartly advised.  Low-VOC paint and glues, recycled carpet, and furniture that will not send out harmful fumes are good ideas.  Knowing that some remodeling projects have sickened workers and created lawsuits, there is more to the decision than the cheapest price.  To be effective, we must acknowledge that decisions are dynamic and do occur at one time.  This is why the CSO needs to be ever-present in the dynamics of the company’s operation.  Consulting forms do not have the capacity to provide this ground-level type of input.

Could company energy costs be dropped 25% to 50% with some better planning?  Could employee satisfaction, health, and productivity be improved with making the right choices in upcoming decisions?  Even risk management can be greatly improved through better information?  These and many more cost-connected decisions can make the company Greener in more ways than environmentally.  Cutting operational costs and improving the public value of the company will make it more profitable.

More than the guidance from Executive Order #13514, hundreds of forward-thinking companies are installing Green or sustainability officers.  It no longer matters if your company is large or small, it is just a good business decision to appoint a Green officer and then train them to be a CSO for the company.

Lastly, the small cost to install and train a CSO will avoid the immense cost of bringing in an environmental consulting firm.  It is also smarter than taking the foolish path of greenwashing that will soon prove embarrassing.

So, take the hint from the recent executive order and install a sustainability plan in your company by first appointing a Green officer.  If your company is very small, this is something that any business owner can easily accomplish with the help of the Green Path Assessment software.

If the sticker-shock of a Green consulting firm has kept your company from moving forward with a sustainability plan, then consider a more organic approach to a Green program.  Find a good quality person that will serve as the Green officer.  Get them trained as a Certified Sustainability Officer, and give this person a voice at the table.  For more information about the Certified Sustainability Officer and CSO Training please visit


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