Survey: CEO participation crucial in 'green' workplace initiatives

Buy-in from the top is prevalent among companies that have embraced green habits within their operations, even when the return isn't entirely tangible.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

An overwhelming majority of businesses that have green workplace initiatives under way (88 percent) include the CEO as a central part of strategy development and communications, according to a survey conducted by Buck Consultants (a Xerox company focus on human resources and benefits).

The study, The Greening of the American Workplace Survey 2010," reflects the responses of about 120 organizations from all aspects of the business world including public companies, privately held organizations, government agencies and non-profit organizations. The organizations surveyed represented small businesses, midsize companies and enterprises. Among these companies, approximately 7 out of 10 reported having some sort of green workplace effort in place. That compares with approximately 53 percent in the previous year's survey.

Examples of the activities that the green-minded companies have in place include:

  • Recycling or paper reduction programs (97 percent)
  • Teleconferencing to reduce travel footprint (95 percent)
  • Light sensors (75 percent)
  • Area reserved for bicycles in parking lot/garage (71 percent)
  • Telecommuting (65 percent)
  • Recruitment of individuals with green skills and experiences (59 percent)

Another metric of particular note: 62 percent of the survey respondents said they now track stakeholder feedback on green program and corporate social responsibility. That is double the number of respondents that said the same thing in the previous year's survey.

Plus, the naysayers among my faithful readers should also note the following:

  • 78 percent of the respondents reduced their electricity costs as a result of green initiatives
  • 66 percent reported heating/cooling or paper cost savings
  • 60 percent saw lower water expenses

Generally speaking, the chart below summarizes the key returns on investment cited by the survey respondents. You'll notice that quite a few of them are highly intangible, which suggests that even if you can't quantify a green business initiative, it might buy you some returns in terms of morale or brand recognition. Keep that in mind if your financial counterparts get antsy.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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