Watters launches their new Carbon Offset initiative!

Sometimes, implementing sustainability initiatives within your company can be difficult – especially for individuals or green teams who practice sustainability on a volunteer basis. However, it’s certainly not impossible. We’ve seen this time and time again with our Living Planet @ Work champions and green teams spearheading environmental change as sustainability insurgents within their own companies.

Watters Environmental green team takes action

This past year, green team members from consulting company Watters Environmental Group Inc. implemented a carbon offset initiative in a collective effort to neutralize their GHG emissions and improve Watters’s own environmental performance.

This initiative, developed entirely by the green team, was launched in February 2016, and is demonstrating impressive results. In fact, Watters has already reduced its GHG emissions by over 5.8 tonnes – which represents 5 per cent of Watters’ carbon footprint in 2015. (Learn more about their carbon initiative here.)

How did they do it? Four keys to success

Watters Environmental attributes the success of this project to four key factors, each of which can be used as takeaways for your own green team’s environmental efforts:

SUCCESS FACTOR #1: Measure your impacts

Before implementing any workplace environmental initiative, an organization should start with measuring its environmental baseline information to find the potential for the biggest impact. TIP: Visit atwork.wwf.ca for tools to start tracking sustainability data.

Watters knew that they needed to measure their environmental impact before determining where they should focus their efforts. The results revealed that approximately 30 per cent of the company’s direct carbon emissions came from air travel associated with client work. The team saw an opportunity to target their efforts in a way that would have a big impact, and subsequently embarked on a journey to lower these emissions.

SUCCESS FACTOR #2 – Be solutions-oriented

At times, there will be perceived barriers to implementing your environmental initiative – but if you are creative and solutions-oriented, there is always a way to solve the problem.

When conducting initial research on how to reduce carbon emissions from air travel, the green team considered a multitude of options – including reducing the number of flights taken by substituting technological alternatives such as videoconferencing. However, for Watters Environmental (and many other organizations), in-person site visits are necessary to help address their clients’ needs. Reducing the frequency of air travel was not a realistic solution. Instead, they neutralized their emissions through carbon offsets. 

At times, there will be perceived barriers to implementing your environmental initiative – but if you are creative and solutions-oriented, there is always a way to solve the problem.

SUCCESS FACTOR #3 – Be prepared

If you would like to implement a sustainability project at work, do your homework so you can create a compelling and realistic proposal.

According to green team member Nick Philip, the Watters Environmental team did as much preparation as possible to get the project off the ground. “We wanted to ensure that we knew as much as possible about the cost and logistics of implementing the offset initiative, and our thorough approach really helped us to create a complete and comprehensive proposal.” The green team researched the offset suppliers, as well as the types and locations of projects that were funded through the carbon offsets to ensure that they were aligned with Watters Environmental’s company values.

SUCCESS FACTOR #4: Senior management approval

Knowing what your senior management values will enable you to create a compelling pitch that will have a better chance of being noticed, and ultimately approved.

Once the green team finished their proposal, they prepared a pitch for the CEO, who ultimately had final decision on the project. “We found it most effective to think about the project from his perspective, and started to create a case and build on numbers, both the financial cost and environmental impact, based on what we predicted he would want to know.  A big selling point for him was to see how this project aligned with our company’s core values,” said green team member Lila Karolak. This tactic proved to be very successful, and eventually led to the final approval of the project.

Their carbon offset initiative is still in full force today. What’s next? The team hopes to expand the initiative to reduce the carbon footprint for the entire organization.

Take your green team’s efforts to the next level

The green team at Watters Environmental serves as a perfect example of how passion for sustainability can be transformed into real change, with a little teamwork and some creative thinking.

For ideas on how you can take on sustainability initiatives like this at your workplace, join the Living Planet @ Work community by visiting atwork.wwf.ca.

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