3p Contributor: Heather

Heather Gadonniex, LEED AP, is the co-founder of Green it Group, a sustainability strategy firm that focuses on helping organizations develop, measure, manage and market their sustainability initiatives. Ms. Gadonniex is also the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Greening Your Business, published by Alpha Books (with Trish Riley). Contact Heather at heather@greenitgroup.com, or visit the Green it Group website.

Recent Articles

Sustainability 101: Water, The New Carbon. Measuring Your Water Footprint.

| Tuesday June 30th, 2009 | 0 Comments

More and more businesses are increasing their awareness of water use by conducting audits to better understand their use and to establish more efficient routines. This makes us vulnerable to higher water costs as water scarcity becomes an issue. Reducing your water consumption now will decrease immediate costs and will lead to an increase in future profits.
Determining your organization’s water footprint not only allows you to track your corporate sustainability indicators, it serves as a stepping stone for calculating and reducing your product’s water footprint as well.

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Sustainability 101: Creating Your Strategic Plan

| Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

Yesterday I read an article that called out corporate social responsibility (CSR) as the new “Brand Content.” We are all aware of the increased marketing push around CSR activities. But, how do you make sure those marketing claims are legit and reflect what your organization is actually achieving? And, more importantly, how do you keep your organization on track when implementing sustainability?
Creating a Strategic Plan
Creating and following a strategic sustainability action plan provides your organization with a road map.
Your vision, assessment, and goals are the backbone for developing a plan to move you forward and keep you on track (For more detailed information on how to accomplish these three key steps refer back to my previous posts!). A strategic plan helps you document, track, and monitor the different sustainability initiatives rolled out in a fiscal year and assists you in communicating to and getting buy-in from your staff. As I’ve mentioned over and over again, metrics and verification not only allow you to track your sustainability progress, they also support your marketing claims.

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Green Marketing or Greenwashing? You Decide.

| Tuesday May 12th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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Let me start by saying this is an interactive post. In order for it to be a stunning success, you need to pen your thoughts in the comment section below!

Normally at this time you would be reading my weekly column “Sustainably 101″. However, it is trade show season and I wanted to share a few stories from the road. Since April 20th, I have been speaking and attending conferences. First it was Coverings in Chicago, then off to Vegas for The National Hardware Show and The Hospitality and Design Expo.
One common theme carried throughout the exhibit hall: “green marketing”. Some displays excelled in telling their company and product’s green story. On the other hand, others failed miserably. Many companies disregarded environmental marketing regulations and guidelines, mainly because the marketing team didn’t know they existed. “Carbon Neutral” claims were highly visible, yet sales and marketing teams did not know how to talk to their customers about the carbon footprinting process, or if the product or manufacturing process was “carbon neutral”.
So, my question to you is this: Do you think the image above is marketing the product, company, or manufacturing process as carbon neutral? Yes, I have the answer. And, yes, I will share it with you after I receive your feedback!

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Creating Your Sustainabilty Goals

| Friday May 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

goals.jpgSo far, we’ve learned how to create a sustainability vision for your organization using facilitated discussions and stakeholder engagement, and the importance of benchmarking your organization’s current sustainability standing. Now, it is time to use this information to create your organization’s sustainability goals.
Creating Your Green Goals
Use both your vision and assessment to help you determine your targets and what will be important to evaluate and change in your organization. Before writing down any goals, reread your vision and analyze this result of your assessment. Referring back to your vision – your organization’s sustainability compass – will ensure you are aligning your goals with your original intentions. Use the data gathered from your sustainability assessment to determine the most cost effective and influential areas for improvement.
Be Realistic!
When determining your goals, be realistic. There’s no point in making goals that are unattainable; this only leads to frustration and less support for your sustainability initiatives as you begin to implement them.

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Assessing and Benchmarking Your Current Operations

| Monday April 20th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Assessing your current operations is critical to understand how to move forward with incorporating sustainability into your business. If you do not know where you are in terms of material use, energy use, water use, waste consumption, the receptivity of personnel in your organization to change and the receptivity of your customers to your products and services, it is difficult to set realistic sustainability goals and create metrics to track those goals.
Most importantly, setting your benchmarks early allows you to measure and track sustainability ROI. This weekend, I sat on a marketing panel at The Presidio School of Management with Dan Geiger, Jay Tompt and Jill Albeson. We were addressing the topic of certifications and marketing. As always, Dan raised a great point – the easiest way to convince people that sustainability is feasible is to show them financials. In order to create the strongest financial case for sustainability you must benchmark your organization’s performance before you implement your program.

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Visioning Your Sustainable Business Reality

| Tuesday April 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

This is the second in a series of posts about incorporating sustainability into your business model by sustainability expert Heather Gadonniex. Stay tuned for weekly, step-by-step tips on how you can Modernize Business Through Sustainable Strategy™.
Click here to read #1
In the last post, I covered a basic understanding of what sustainability means, why it is important and what changes are arising in the marketplace. Now it is time to determine how you want to integrate these concepts into your business. The first step in executing any sustainability initiative or program is to determine where you want to go by creating your sustainability vision and defining your goals. Just like any mission statement, your sustainability vision (also referred to as a sustainability mission or sustainability positioning statement) serves as a compass for your organization.
In this post, we will focus on sustainability visioning and creating a sustainability positioning statement for your organization. In next week’s post I will circle back around to goal creation. To create your sustainability vision, follow the following steps:

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Sustainability 101: Preparing Your Business for the New Economy

| Tuesday April 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

preparedness.pngThis is the first in a series of posts about incorporating sustainability into your business model by sustainability expert Heather Gadonniex. Stay tuned for weekly, step-by-step tips on how you can Modernize Business Through Sustainable Strategy™.
What Is Sustainability?
What is all this buzz around green anyway? Some choose to think of “green” only in terms of the environment. However, I encourage you to think beyond green and incorporate a social dimension into your green initiatives. This merging of environment, society, and economy brings us to the idea of sustainability. According to Webster’s Dictionary, sustainable means “capable of being sustained.” When we take this definition and apply it to the environment and society, sustainability can mean a multitude of things. We can use it to describe resources used in a way that does not take more from the earth than can be replenished or to describe a company that empowers workers to be innovative and balanced. Sustainability can also describe a society or business that energizes people to be productive contributors to their communities. In short, sustainability is about balancing the intricate cyclic systems of ecology, economy, and society.
By applying the same cyclical approach to our business systems, we can help ensure that we will have a continuous supply of resources, rather than depleting them and leaving nothing but waste. Instead of devouring resources and leaving nothing useful afterward, we want to return those resources to the cycle so they can continue to be productive. For example, when we use water, instead of polluting it with waste products so that it is no longer usable, we want to be aware of what we mix into our water supply and clean it before we put it back into the system. This protects our neighbors as well as our planet. We can replicate this idea with any resource we use, including human capital.

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