Rewarding Sustainability

Sustainability efforts are not only a way for a company or organization to stand out from its competitors; these also are fast becoming an expected business practice. At Standing Partnership, we’re completing our first year in the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association Green Business Challenge, which helps companies and organizations adopt sustainable business practices, and recently shared our efforts to curb junk mail.

What about employees, members, students and other stakeholders? How do organizations engage people in sustainability efforts? Many are using reward or incentive programs.

Recently, The Indiana University Bloomington (IU) Office of Sustainability announced its first Campus Sustainability Awards to recognize outstanding contributions to campus sustainability efforts in four categories:Indiana University Campus Sustainability Awards Excellence in Research, Excellence in Teaching, Leadership and Team. Faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and community members are eligible to receive the awards. IU also has an Energy Challenge that rewards participants for making small conservation changes that can decrease IU’s environmental impact. Buildings across campus compete against others in water and electricity conservation.

According to a 2010 study by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), sustainability efforts within large companies can increase profits by 38 percent.

Stonyfield Farms, an organic yogurt company, provides a good example of tying sustainability efforts to employee performance. Green Economy Post reports that in 2008, the company created an incentive plan to get employees to help decrease energy consumption in its facilities. Stonyfield Farms tied the amount of money saved from decreased usage directly to paycheck bonuses, and the company saw a decrease of more than 22 percent in energy usage, as reported to NEEF.

Sometimes, recognition among peers can be enough to motivate people. SmartPlanet reported Intel created the Intel Environmental Excellence Awards in 2000 for employees who find ways to incorporate sustainable business practices into their jobs. Intel’s 2010 CSR report states 62 individuals and teams were nominated for work to promote recycling and waste reduction, lower the environmental impact of our products and processes, and educate others on sustainability topics. Intel estimates its cost savings from the winning projects totaled $136 million.

Does your company provide incentive or reward programs for sustainability efforts?