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The Green Workplace: A Holistic Guide to a Healthier Working Life

Thomas Schueneman | Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

HC FrontLeigh Stringer is a converted “greeniac” who not that long ago didn’t think much about the idea of “being green.” It’s not that she necessarily had anything against it, she literally didn’t think that much about it.

“My husband drug me to see Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth,” says Stringer, and the rest, as they say, is history. She’s now an avowed greeniac (Stringer has formulated four levels of one’s, for lack of a better term, “greenness” 1) Greeniac 2) “Bottom line” environmentalism 3) Couch potato greenies, and 4) well, if you’re at this level, you’re not really so green, now are you?).

A trained architect with an MBA, Stringer is now a VP for Advanced Strategies, with HOK, a global architectural and sustainable design firm HOK, itself recently voted the “greenest design firm in the world.”

Stringer’s work at HOK’s Advanced Strategies involves consulting with clients in the initial stages of workplace and building design and help them make the best decisions for designing a workplace that best supports their mission and employees. More often than not clients want to incorporate sustainability and “green” in their plan, but are also just as often unsure of how best to go about it. Stringer found that often good intentions, while a good start, didn’t always lead to a sustained, comprehensive, and workable plan.

It is from this experience that Stringer decided first to write a blog called The Green Workplace, a site with a growing following and now written by Stringer and many of her fellow greeniacs. From there Stinger realized the need for a step-by-step explanation of what it means to run a sustainable operation, designed to bring the best practices of the triple bottom line to any business committed to the concept.

Today Stinger is releasing her new book The Green Workplace. Designed as a holistic guide for businesses of all shapes and sizes, The Green Workplace shows how anyone can effectively compete in a new business landscape where greed is good is replaced by green is good.

Rethinking productivity and how people work

Albert Einstein said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” One of the first hurdles, says Stringer, is simply envisioning a sustainable world, thinking beyond how work gets done and workplaces are set up. and realizing whole new ways of enhancing worker satisfaction and productivity, environmental and social responsibility, and business profitibility.

Even now with the ubiquitous mobile technology seen in any local coffee shop, airport, or just on the street, many still believe that, as Stinger puts it, “if I am not at my desk, I am not working.”  While that may have been true at one time, even Robert Probst, the inventor of the modern workstation, characterized the typical one-size-fits-all office setup that has flourished since the 1970′s as “monolithic insanity”. The “workplace of the future” is made possible with technology, but change is driven by imagining that future and taking decisive steps to make it the workplace of today.

The Green Workplace shows how the work environment and working life “of the future”  through illustration and storytelling, helping those “stuck in the monolith’ imagine how it might be in the brave new working world of the 21st century.

Head in the clouds, feet on the ground,

Leigh Stringer - author of The Green WorkplaceUnderstanding that change generally happens within the constraints of existing insfrastructure and cultural norms, Stringer combines the imaginitive vision of how things can be with the pragmatic practicality of how things are. Within that framework she demonstrates how change has worked for successful companies implementing green initiatives and sustainable workplace practices. Stringer provides dozens of exmaples in The Green Workplace from business large and small, including Bloomberg, Sprint, Google, Adobe, and Texas Instruments.

A perfect combination of foundation and background, visionary thinking, step-by-step practical advice, and passion for creating a more sustainable world make The Green Workplace the perfect guide for “greening” a business. And it is to the last point, Stringer’s passion and enthusiasm, that I am particularity impressed. I have to say, every time I have an opportunity to talk with someone from HOK (Ripley Rasmus, Mary Ann Lazarus, and now Stringer), I am inspired not only with their expertise and command of the “big picture” of effecting fundamental change,  but even more so with their passionate drive to make a better world.

For Stringer, sustainability is more than just an environmental concept. Rooted in environmental responsibility, Stringer sees the sustainable workplace of the future one that creates a healthier and more productive working environment for its workers, reduces operating costs for managers, enhances profitibility for shareholders, and helps to establish a foundation of a new, sustainable economy for the future.

As American inventor Charles F. Kettering once said, and whom Stringer quotes in her book, “We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.

Stringer’s The Green Workplace is a roadmap to a future in which we’d all like to live and work.

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Greening the book release

The Green Workplace is available in hardcover starting today from Amazon and Palgrave. In her blog, Stringer urges readers to vote for the publisher to produce an ebook version for Kindle readers. The post also explores the idea of what is “greener,” a hard copy book or an ebook read on a plastic electonic device.

On Facebook

Follow progress of the book, get and suggest green business tips, and do some serious social networking on The Green Workplace Facebook page.


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