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Who Runs Sustainability In Your Organization?




August 5, 2013 - Green

Today's tip of the day is about the chief sustainability officer position, and how more and more companies are choosing a c-suite executive to run sustainability efforts.

Who run the sustainability efforts at your organization? Is it someone in the facilities department (you?)? Is it a health, safety and welfare person who reports to the Chief Operating Officer?

If you're a smaller organization, is it your CFO? How about maybe a bright-eyed, 20-something in marketing whose only real requirement is passion for sustainability?

All these scenarios are actually fairly common these days. But, increasingly, organizations are tasking the bull by the horns and hiring a single person to set the sustainability agenda for the entire organization.

These folks come from a variety of educations and backgrounds (much like facility managers!) - but their one commonality is that they usually are promoted from within the organization. The reason for this is simple: Success for a sustainability executive depends on knowing the organization inside and out; knowing what the organization's priorities are, and therefore knowing how to frame initiatives within the boundaries of those organizational goals and strategies.

The December, 2012 cover story of Building Operating Management magazine includes the stories of several sustainability executives from large organizations. They all agreed that one of their main tasks in working on sustainability projects — whether greenhouse gas emissions inventory or recycling — is building bridges between departments in the organization, often working on projects and with people for whom they don't have direct responsibility.

Thankfully, most people these days recognize the importance of sustainability — not just as a "feel good, do-the-right-thing" proposition, but as a business imperative. They recognize that efficiency - using fewer resources, and therefore saving money — benefits the organization at large. After all, everyone's on the same team — and a rising tide raises all ships!

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