According to Stephen Ashkin, chief executive officer of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, a Web-based system used to measure and monitor a facility’s consumption and use of natural resources, there are four steps to creating a "culture of sustainability" within a business.

A culture of sustainability exists, Ashkin says, "when all staff members support a healthy environment, strive to improve the lives of workers in their organization, as well as people in their local community, while continuing to create a business that is financially successful over the long term."

Making this a reality, Ashkin says, requires businesses to practice the "four Es":

  • Educate. Business owners must educate their staffs as to the value of sustainability to the organization and employees as well as the local community. The goal is to make sustainability a shared value, supported by all of those in the organization.
  • Engage. Once the value of sustainability is clearly defined and understood, owners must make sustainability visible. Business owners and managers must agree on sustainability goals and targets and find ways to measure and monitor those goals. "Measuring and monitoring make the entire process 'real' for staff members," Ashkin says.
  • Empower. Encourage, on an ongoing basis, everyone in the organization to get involved with the sustainability initiatives. "Continue to have meetings and form a 'sustainability team' to lead, direct, and encourage everyone to get on board with the organization's sustainability initiatives," Ashkin says. "Sustainability goals are easier to achieve when everyone is involved at all levels of an organization."
  • Experiment. Allow small groups of motivated people to experiment with different ways to promote sustainability. Examples of this could be a ride-sharing program, composting in a cafeteria, or developing a system to ensure office electrical devices are turned off after business hours and on weekends. "Try to drive change from the bottom up," Ashkin advises. "This is one of the most successful ways to develop a culture of sustainability."