Sustainability Education – does it make the grade?

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Carey Guerin
Sustainability University

The school year is well underway for students, but learning is a year round practice in the corporate world.

If you haven’t implemented any sustainability strategies yet, a great place to start is an employee engagement program. If you already have sustainability projects underway such as efficient equipment upgrades, you can increase the return of your efforts by engaging your employees.

Through the work with our clients, we have seen an average savings of 5-10% with sustainability education. This statistic was echoed in Energy Star’s September partner meeting. Energy Star periodically hosts webinars for partner organizations to share best practices and network with other leaders in green building.

The September webinar focused on examples of behavioral based energy strategies that:

• Reduce un-necessary energy use

• Eliminate energy wasting practices and bad habits

• Raise awareness of the impact and cost of inefficient energy use

• Build a culture focused on efficiency

Not all companies will engage in full-fledged sustainability training programs, but engaging employees in actions that work towards the goal of sustainability and informing them of the goal can be just as valuable and provide results that affect the bottom line.

The best places to concentrate your efforts are in lighting, heating and office equipment since these take up the most energy in a typical commercial building. If you don’t have lighting sensors, post signs to remind people to turn out the lights when they leave the room. Remind people to turn off their computers when they go home or at least turn off their monitors. Simple actions can make a difference, but also begin to create a culture of efficiency and sustainability.

But what if your tenants are 3rd graders? Do you spend time engaging them in your sustainability efforts

“Absolutely!” says two of the presenters in the Energy Star webinar, John Lord & Mike Barancewicz, of Loudon County Public Schools in Virginia. They provided their strategies and reasons behind implementing their energy education. But what I found most inspiring was the fact that they didn’t just think of their teachers and staff as their tenants, they recognized that the students could also be part of the solution.

Take a look at this great 9 minute video to see these two in action, informing and inspiring our future generation:

In the corporate world we might not be able to get all of our tenants to shout the three R’s in unison as in the vimeo link (although I bet a few of our clients might be up for the challenge), but we can definitely give our tenants an opportunity to be a part of the solution.

Does sustainability education make the grade? You bet. A gold star for John Lord, Mike Barancewicz and their team at Loudon County Public Schools – actually make that an Energy Star!

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