Developing An Award Winning Sustainability Program: Part 1

@ Business NH Magazine

By Matt Courtland

On September 14, I was presented with the 2010 Lean and Green Large Process Award. The honor was given by Business NH Magazine for the sustainability programs I lead at a software firm in New Hampshire. I founded the company’s Green Committee (GC) in 2007 and have since worked with a wonderful team of colleagues to develop and implement a variety of sustainability projects. This is the first of several posts that will highlight the development of the GC along with several of its most effective and innovative programs.

I chose to announce the formation of the GC at an off-site quarterly meeting when the entire office was in attendance. I made arrangements for the CEO to provide an introduction and express his personal commitment to the GC’ s sustainability efforts. He was truly interested in protecting the environment and shared a heartfelt story that I believe helped employees put a personal face on the company’s new sustainability focus.

I then took the floor and defined the concept of a triple bottom line, shared the GC’s environmental mission statement, and told the group that starting the following day Styrofoam cups, paper plates, and plastic utensils would no longer be available in the company kitchens. Instead re-usable kitchen items would take their place. I then asked everyone to look in the cloth shopping bag they received when they entered the room, inside of which was a ceramic mug and a water bottle. These items were all adorned with the GC logo,  a badge similar to the images used for our software applications, which created an immediate visual presence for the GC within our company.

I told everyone that these items would allow them to live a more environmentally friendly work life but that simply providing them with the mug, bottle, and bag was not enough. I stressed the important role each person would need to play in moving our organization toward a greener future. Not only could everybody aim to make use of their re-usable items each day, they could also share their sustainability ideas with the GC. To facilitate this process, we created an email address that routes suggestions and comments directly to the GC committee members. In the first month after the official GC kickoff, we received emails from ten percent of our workforce suggesting ways in which employees thought the company could become more environmentally benign.

Three years after I introduced sustainability to this software company, projects and ideas are still pouring in. In future posts I will describe the most successful and the most challenging programs we developed and how we made it this far, even winning an award along the way.


Matt Courtland of The Natural Strategy educates people on sustainable business practices while reconnecting them to the energy and inspiration found in nature.

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