February 25, 2011 | by Julie Goodhart | Sustainability + Energy, Workplace Culture + Practices

More and more companies are “going green” and striving to incorporate sustainability practices into their workplaces. Some are recognizing the link between these efforts and the bottom line. Others view it as a moral imperative.

Recent studies have also found that initiating green efforts in the workplace can raise employee morale. Yet another good business reason for implementing sustainability initiatives in the workplace.

 

NRG Systems, building exterior from Riggs Road. Photo credit: Carolyn Bates

NRG Systems, building exterior from Riggs Road. Photo credit: Carolyn Bates

At our company, sustainability is engrained in our culture and a part of the values that drive our business decisions. We think it not only makes good business sense, but it’s the right thing to do.

Whatever the reason, it seems that incorporating sustainability in the workplace is an effort that is here to stay.

Defining sustainability in the workplace


Certainly, sustainability is a broad topic; and companies define it and incorporate it into their organizations in different ways. Some may start by improving the energy efficiency of their operations, looking for ways they can save energy and involving employees. Others may make modifications to their internal processes, sourcing greener, more environmentally materials, or changing their product offerings altogether to include environmentally-friendly options. Still others may demonstrate their sustainability commitment through the community initiatives they support, becoming champions of environmental causes and related efforts.

At NRG Systems, we’ve found another area that’s important to consider when incorporating sustainability into the workplace—employee benefits.

Greening employee benefits


As a manufacturer of equipment for the global wind energy industry, advancing renewable energy is core to our mission. So it seemed only natural to provide our employees with incentives to help them incorporate renewable energy into their lives at home and lighten their impact on the earth. Here’s the rundown of what our green benefits package looks like.

Clean NRG Benefit: We offer cash incentives to help our employees purchase hybrid vehicles and install renewable energy systems at their homes. The benefit is applied for five years to the vehicle or renew­able energy system as long as the employee continues to own or operate it, and remains employed with us.

Energy Efficiency Benefit: We also offer cash incentives to employees for expenses associated with improving the energy efficiency of their homes (such as installing insulation, efficient lighting or energy efficient appliances).

Green Transportation Benefits (no planes, but trains): Our company is located in a rural community without access to public transportation. Yet we know our employees can use these resources during their travels away from work. So we cover their expenses for personal travel (anywhere in the world) for buses, trains and subways (not taxicabs, ferries or airplanes). We also provide cash incentives for employees who want to buy a bicycle (and associated safety equipment and maintenance costs).

Employee bicycles at 110 Riggs Road - SE Corner

NRG Systems, building exterior from Riggs Road. Photo credit: Carolyn Bates

Local Lunch and Fitness Options: We also provide our employees a catered lunch four days per week. The food is prepared by a local caterer, often from fresh, local, organic ingredients and served on-site. Besides the delicious food and health benefits, we’re able to support local growers, and employees prefer staying in for lunch rather than hopping in their cars to drive into town. Similarly, having fitness facilities and showers in our facilities helps avoid carbon emissions by reducing the need for employees to drive to the gym at lunchtime or break time. They can just walk upstairs.

Sustainability options are endless


The sky truly is the limit when looking to incorporate sustainability into your workplace. Consider all the opportunities and start with those that make the most sense for your business. And encourage your employees to get involved! It’s a great way to engage the entire company in your sustainability efforts.

What green initiatives have you implemented in your workplace?

Resources


If GE, Ford & Nike Can Find Business Growth and Brand Value in Green, Anyone Can

How to Make Your Business Greener (and Save Money)

Top Execs Feel 'Moral Duty' to Sustainability, ROI Still Main Driver

julie goodhart
Julie Goodhart

Julie Goodhart formerly served as human resource director at NRG Systems. She wrote on all things affecting the human side of the organization (aka, everything). From compensation and benefits, recruitment, and organizational culture to continuous improvement, performance management, and training and development, she offered her insight on the strategies, policies and program areas of interest to everyone in the workplace.

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