Successfully Implementing Your Sustainability Plan

June 21st, 2011 | Related: ,

In case you missed our presentation with URS at Design DC last month about implementing your organization’s Sustainability Plan, here’s a summary of a few of the highlights.


Hands-On AEIOU Process

Since plan implementation isn’t so much about the “How high do we shoot?”, but the “How do we get there?” questions, we developed this diagram to bring attention to the process points to focus on along the way. It just happened that we came up with five words starting with vowels that we could count on one hand, so we cleverly named this our “Hands-on AEIOU Process.”

Assuming that the work of establishing performance targets has been completed and your challenge is to mobilize your organization towards achievement of the targets by implementing various technical initiatives, we offer the following approach. The “Hands-on AEIOU Process” is cyclical, and like a Ferris wheel, participants enter at different points along the process. Here’s how it works.

ADVOCATE for change

Recognizing that leadership endorsement and directive is essential for broad-based change, reflect your organization’s leadership and accountability framework in your strategic action plan. Consider who the decision makers are and what they care about already. Consider who they are held accountable to (shareholders, a board of directors, Congress, a higher power). Align your sustainability implementation with the organization’s strategic business plan and the organization’s core mission, culture and values. Develop an iterative action plan to implement over time by phasing implementation into manageable steps.

Enable leadership to command the situation by providing a clear agenda and decision-making framework. Remember that education is often required to elicit support.   

ENGAGE all stakeholders

Internal champions are essential in order to successfully to manage the development and implementation of the sustainability plan.  Ensure champions have strong subject matter knowledge, passion, commitment, analytic and persuasive sales skills.  Determine who else needs to be involved and establish a method for progressive engagement.  Involve your stakeholders in identifying strategies and technical initiatives.

INTEGRATE with mission and culture 

Understand the organization’s cultural framework and the decision-making process and reflect them in the implementation approach.  Assess the level of risk and change the organization is comfortable with. Provide a frame of reference and data to inform decision-making and make it straightforward to draw conclusions. Identify systemic or cultural changes that may be required to get to the next level and how barriers to change can be removed. Determine whether it will take two years, five years, or a generation to see this change and plan accordingly.

ORGANIZE and leverage systems

Consider who the key stakeholders are at each level of the organization and what is needed to enlist their participation. What have they already done or have planned that will contribute to the implementation of the sustainability plan? How can the sustainability plan help them improve with respect to something that they are already being accountable for? What existing systems can be leveraged to help obtain near-term successes upon which longer-term success is built?

UNDERSTAND effectiveness

Develop a communications program to share progress with various stakeholder groups. Establish feedback loops and remain open and responsive to learning what’s going well and what is not.  Conduct regular progress reviews and incorporate feedback into your continuous improvement process. Make sure to capture and document lessons learned and above all, remember to reward and acknowledge successes large and small!

GreenShape is currently helping to develop a campus-wide sustainability plan for the Architect of the Capitol and assisting The JBG Companies with the implementation of their corporate sustainability plan.