Identify Institutional Change Roles for Sustainability
Example of How Roles Affect Sustainability Goals
The following scenario is an example of how roles can affect the implementation of a sustainability goal despite best intentions.
- Policymakers mandate waste reduction.
- A waste manager determines that a solution is to recycle more.
- No one notices that the staff responsible for implementing the solution forgets to order enough recycling bins for a building.
- Office workers continue to put recyclable material in the trash instead of a recycling bin.
- Janitorial staff members don't have the time to sort the recyclable material from the trash.
- Municipal waste personnel dump recyclable material in a landfill.
Lesson: It is important that action plans incorporate the network of roles and responsibilities necessary to achieve sustainability goals.
To achieve the sustainability goals you've identified, take into account the network of roles essential to make or maintain the desired changes. As a rule of thumb, it may help to think about what roles are necessary for determining what changes to make, implementing those changes, and supporting or abiding by those changes. One place to start is by identifying leaders in your organization who have the authority, resources, and influence to make change happen. Those leadership roles typically include:
Not all of the people in these roles will be involved in every behavioral or institutional change that you wish to make. Regardless, it is important to analyze for each proposed change who needs to be involved for the change to be successful.
Those in management, such as the senior sustainability officer or chief financial officer, have the authority and influence to push institutional change. Their roles are to orchestrate the changes necessary to engage their organizations or set up infrastructures so that the changes can be more habitual. They can also lead change by example and personal advocacy. These roles or positions include:
Senior sustainability officers: They set and establish policy and goals, obtain buy-in from building managers (Federal and contractor), personnel staff, and acquisition or procurement officers.
Chief financial officers: They review the costs and savings for proposed sustainability measures and develop criteria for all expenditures.
Policy and Technology Officers
Policy and technology officers shape how things operate on a day-to-day basis. They streamline the number of choices that other people have to make and can steer people toward one option or another—such as determining the length of paper towel dispensed in a bathroom machine—to make a significant impact in a Federal facility. These roles or positions include:
Procurement specialists: They can set and implement policies as well as establish and use systems that impose conditions on purchases and contracts so that they conform to criteria for energy, water, materials, wastes, and indoor air quality.
Information technology specialists: They can set defaults for actions such as "sleep" modes and double-sided printing and can encourage desired sustainability-related behaviors by deploying strategies that enable energy-saving behaviors to align with other organizational responsibilities.
Facilities and Operations Managers
Facilities and operations managers play key roles in the day-to-day, behind-the-scenes action to initiate and sustain change. Their roles are powerful because of their knowledge of physical infrastructure and systems. When given the authority to make changes, these managers can identify key points of intervention. These roles or positions include:
Waste managers: They determine how waste is to be collected, recycled, and where it is disposed.
Fleet managers: They establish procedures for buying, maintaining, and operating vehicles to comply with various regulations, meet agency needs, and achieve the goal of reducing fuel use.
Building operations managers: They influence matters such as hours of operation, lighting protocols, thermostat set points, office assignments, and occupancy rates.
Energy, facility and maintenance managers: They know building systems and can uncover technological issues and observe occupant behavior that work to promote or inhibit the achievement of reduced resource use.
In addition to identifying key roles and rules, you also should identify tools—the technologies, processes, and systems—that constitute the organization's infrastructure. Tools represent the third key element of your institutional context.
- Step 1
- Step 2
Identify Rules, Roles, and Tools
- Step 3
Develop an Action Plan
- Step 4
Implement an Action Plan
- Step 5
Measure and Evaluate
Refine or Set New Goals