How Professional Organizations Can Promote Sustainable Practices
Approximately two-thirds of the world’s energy is produced from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. This polluting workforce is responsible for greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, leading to critical implications, such as seepage of water tables and irreparable damage to the Earth’s flora.
In recent years, individuals have taken it upon themselves to promote clean energy to avoid the effects of global warming. Professional organizations have also adopted measures that promote green and sustainable practices to achieve this mission statement.
Associations have always been in a position to influence. The way they operate, the products they sell, and the services they deliver—all these factors can have a positive or negative impact on the environment, and by extension, on our planet.
Today’s world is increasingly aware of this fact: consumers are more attuned and concerned about how their actions affect the environment and how the businesses they support are better positioned to seize opportunities from this mindset and transform their corporate practices.
As the United States government continues to debate the existence, causes, and effects of climate change, there’s a movement happening in the private sector, with smaller organizations taking it upon themselves to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices.
To help reduce your carbon footprint and positively influence the environment, this guide will dive into the impact professional associations have on promoting a greener ecosystem.
Carbon Footprint & Offsets
As the global population continues to grow, so does the world’s carbon footprint. These are a measure of the amount of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere by a single activity or individual.
A carbon offset is an investment in a project that reduces emissions or absorbs them from other sources. For example, planting trees that absorb carbon dioxide as they grow would be an effective offset. Many people choose to invest in renewable energy projects such as wind farms or solar panels. Purchasing these types of offsets can help your organization save money on electricity costs while also reducing the amount of detrimental gasses released.
Conduct Energy Audit
An energy audit is an essential first step to making an influential impact on the globe, as it provides a useful baseline for future comparisons and establishes a foundation of knowledge. This is essential for associations to make informed decisions about how to approach their energy consumption.
Conducting an energy audit can help identify specific areas where energy use can be reduced. This can include switching to energy-saving light bulbs, optimizing temperature control systems, and ensuring that equipment and appliances are energy-efficient.
A comprehensive audit will provide useful data on the amount of electricity, natural gas, and water consumed by various facilities within each organization. This information can be used to determine the sources of energy used and the feasibility of transitioning to renewable resources, such as wind or solar power.
Encourage Green Transportation
The transportation sector is one of the leading contributors to carbon emissions, accounting for a massive percentage of energy-related CO2 emissions. While there are no silver bullets, encouraging eco-friendly transportation is one of the most effective actions organizations can take to lowering their carbon footprint.
Professional organizations that wish to encourage more sustainable practices can consider offering incentives and/or providing resources that will promote these changes in behavior. Incentives like preferred parking and even reimbursement for public transport can encourage members to take advantage of eco-friendly options such as public transport, bicycles, or electric vehicles.
Source Renewable Energy
Investing in renewable energy is an easy first step towards becoming more sustainable. Organizations can choose from a wide range of renewable energy options, including wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, and combined heat and power systems. Depending on the needs of the association and its local utility grid, this technology may be a better option than traditional power plants or other resources. Renewable energy technology is also becoming more affordable; the cost of installing solar panels has dropped 75% since 2008.
While some professional organizations can generate their own energy using renewable sources such as solar, wind, or geothermal, others can take advantage of existing power generation facilities to meet their energy needs.
In the United States, there are many ways for associations to harness renewable energy. U.S. tax credits and other government incentives are available for solar panels and geothermal energy production.
Scale Down Waste
Reducing or managing waste is a critical aspect of environmental sustainability, and organizations can play a significant role in this regard. To achieve this, associations need to adopt a comprehensive waste management plan that identifies the types and amounts of waste produced, the sources of waste, and the ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste.
Whether through recycling, reducing single-use items, or implementing a composting program, these changes can significantly decrease the amount produced by an organization. Additionally, the reduction of waste received by local landfills not only decreases the association’s carbon footprint but also saves them money on both trash removal and compensation for the use of landfill space.
Educating members, stakeholders, and the community about the importance of waste reduction, sustainability practices, and encouraging them to adopt sustainable behaviors is crucial.
Through education, raising awareness, and promoting green initiatives, organizations can make significant strides towards reducing waste and promoting sustainability. These efforts not only benefit the environment but also contribute to the organization’s image as a socially responsible entity.
Most professional organizations have an environmental committee or a green team. These groups can sometimes be small, but their impact can be large. These are ways to build an environmental committee and keeping it strong once established:
- Establish a mission statement and set goals
- Create a calendar of events, workshops, and activities
- Connect with other local organizations to foster cooperation, collaborate, and share information
- Get the word out! Make sure everyone in your associations knows about the group and how they can get involved
When it comes to reducing carbon footprints, organizations must think globally by implementing sustainable practices that reduce the negative impact of their daily operations. By making small but consistent efforts in these specific areas, professional associations can make a lasting and significant difference in the world’s fight against global warming.
By giving back to the community we live in and leading by example, the steps taken by professional organizations will provide others with guidelines for living a truly sustainable life.