The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

Green Trends - Best Practices

New publication: Greening your Business: A Guide for Creating More Sustainable Organizations
This guide published by the Workforce Development Council gives pointers to small and medium-sized businesses on how to "green" their operations and business practices through Sustainability Coordinators or Green Teams.

Includes tips on bringing sustainable practices into purchasing, building management, meeting and events, healthy indoor environments and more.

Green Business Trends

Calculating and reporting net carbon footprint - Input data into a "calculator" (spreadsheet) about business activities that tend to have significant greenhouse gas (GhG) impacts: transportation, energy use, materials purchasing, waste generation. Then use the data to prioritize and implement emission reduction strategies, and to report the results to shareholders, employees, customers, vendors and the community.

Here is a link to a carbon footprint calculator developed by Seattle Climate Partnership: / This calculator is an excellent tool for businesses located throughout the world, but provides the highest degree of accuracy for King County-based businesses due to some variations in transportation and energy data.

Green Buildings – The building sector accounts for almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. annually. The goal is to design and redesign (retrofit) net zero energy buildings by 2030. Carbon neutral buildings use no energy from external power grids and can be built and operated at fair market values.

Branding – Educate customers and create dialogs on green issues to build business and improve the customer relationship. However, avoid "green washing" - deceptive public relations or marketing promotions that misleads people to believe a company policy or product is environmentally friendly. The term "green sheen" describes organizations and businesses that attempt to show that they are adopting practices beneficial to the environment such as committing to an ambitious goal, educating and empowering customers, beginning with baby steps, being transparent, not waiting for perfection and creating strategic partnerships.

Green Best Practices

  • Establish Environmental Metrics - E.G.: Amount of raw material and energy used, number of emergency events or unplanned shutdowns, hours of preventive maintenance, average fuel consumption/vehicle, emission of specific pollutants, wastewater discharged, HAZMATs reduced through pollution prevention.
  • Measure Environmental Impacts - Output, productivity, energy, transportation, waste, materials
  • Develop green(er) products - Review/revise product design, environmental impact (check-out biomimicry as a design tool) and packaging intensity, substitute safer chemicals for toxic ones.
  • Improve Product Labeling - Help buyers identify products that meet efficiency standards (EPEAT, Energy Star). Provide
    downloadable label-reading guide to help consumers understand ingredients in common cleaning products, a searchable and browsable list that explains what each ingredient is, what it is used for, and what effect it has on the environment and human health.
  • Energy Efficiency Policies - Define and measure building operations, consolidate (virtualize) computer hardware, software and services.
  • Handle Waste - Implement policies and procedures for disposing of surplus, obsolete, broken, or discarded electrical or electronic devices. Reuse, recycle or remanufacture other materials (scrap paper, metal, sawdust, machine/production oil).
  • Internal Communications - Establish and support company policies and values, train employees to understand how their job impacts' environmental standards. Explore programs for employee commuting and telecommuting.
  • External Communications - Monitor and inform vendors of environmental policies, give information to shareholders, employees, customers, regulators, community members.
  • Supply Chain - OEMS, Governments and Other Purchasing Agents: Establish guidelines, criteria and timelines for vendors/contractors to adopt documented environmental management systems (e.g., ISO 14001 ). Vendors/Contractors: Review OEMs "Vendor" webpage's and criteria and develop a plan to develop, implement and audit a documented environmental management system (see ISO 14001 above).