The beginning of whole new year is a great time to review your sustainability strategy, and set the tone for the months ahead. What should you do?
1) Check on new and upcoming regulations
Ensure you are in compliance to avoid fines. Make sure your staff and tenants are aware of the changes.
NYC Alert: If your business is in NYC, 2017 marks the beginning of enforcement for two laws that went into effect last year. While the warning period for the new organics law ended on Jan. 19, 2017, you have until August 2017 to be in compliance for the updated waste and recycling rules. Inspectors from DSNY and DOH will be visiting NYC businesses to ensure new program compliance. So get ready and learn more in our Q&A.
2) Do a program review
Review all your sustainability programs with management and your sustainability team so you can plan improvements for the year. Are your programs working? Did you achieve your goals last year? What else can you do to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs?
For example, a review can help you spot where your renewable programs and virtual PPAs (power purchase agreements) are growing in affordability. It can also help find and identify the newest energy incentives. In 2017, Great Forest is launching a commercial incentive reference service starting with over 19,000 renewable, pilot, and rebate program matches around the US, searchable by zip code. The opportunities are out there. You just have to find your match.
3) Conduct a waste audit
Part of your program review should include a waste audit. Effective waste management has one of the most direct impacts on the environment and your business operations. So understanding your waste stream is key. A waste audit can help you quantify the effectiveness of your current recycling or purchasing programs, identify improvements that can be made, verify your data, meet certification and regulatory requirements, and more.
4) Communicate the impact of your sustainability programs
The start (or end of the year) is a great time to communicate the success of your sustainability efforts to staff and management. You will be competing for company resources so make sure your work continues to be supported by reporting your impact.
You could kick off your efforts in 2017 with something as simple as an email message reminding everyone of the programs in place, and the importance of their their collective impact on sustainability. Make sure they understand how to use the programs and have access to educational resources such as recycling instructions, flyers and videos.
5) Consider small changes
There are always new and inventive ways to enhance sustainability programs. Even small changes can have big effects. Moving to an all centralized waste bin system as part of a waste management strategy is one example. This could increase program compliance and reduce janitorial and materials cost (eg: bin liners) in one easy move. See how one client was able to divert an extra 11,000 pounds of compostable materials away from landfills each month with just one simple change.