Five ways local governments can be more environmentally friendly
'Going green.' It's a concept so often discussed that people often expect a lecture whenever those words come up in conversation. Especially for those working in local government. Protecting your community's environment through public transportation and recycling programs is commendable, but local governments can also look inward at their day-to-day operations for ways to reduce their consumption of energy, paper, and greenhouse gasses, all while saving money for their organizations.
Municipal governments need to set an example for citizens by making City Hall as 'green' as possible. While improving systems that have been in place for decades might seem costly at first glance, Forbes and Business.com both suggest that making the transition to more environmentally friendly processes will save money and enhance productivity. Here are 5 ways local governments can be more green.
1. Make Sustainability a Key Element of Your Community Plan
The first step in building a more environmentally responsible government is setting clearly defined and attainable short, medium and long-term goals. These objectives should maintain a few key characteristics and focus closely on reductions in energy, paper usage, and greenhouse gas emissions. Work closely with elected officials and the public and look at creating a committee to discuss progress towards these goals.
Governments that take more initiative into environmental affairs are seen in a brighter light by the public. In fact, 74% of the adults in the United States believe that the government should do whatever is right for the environment. The first step in the process of environmentalism is to define what 'being green' means to your agency. This can include simply reducing, reusing, and recycling whenever possible, or reminding coworkers to make decisions that will lower each of their individual carbon footprints.
2. Implement 'Green' Systems
New innovations like tablets and agenda software not only make day-to-day work in municipal agencies faster and easier, but they greatly reduce the long-run impact that we have on the environment. It's highly recommended that a seminar is held whenever a new product is introduced into your agency in order for people to get comfortable with using new software or tech products.
These systems serve a dual purpose of reducing paper usage, which for agendas and records, in particular, can result in an ROI that far surpasses the cost; but also, can represent a significant time-savings for other staff.
3. Implement an EPP Program
One great thing that businesses and government agencies can do to help lessen their effect on the earth is to look up. That is, look up their supply chain. Environmentally Preferable Purchasing plans (sometimes referred to as 'green' purchasing) can reduce the impact organizations have on the environment by purchasing products from suppliers that are more green friendly, have a longer shelf life and are more useful in multiple ways.
A fantastic resource to find products that are EPA-approved for the environment is a program called Energy Star. It is a popular organization that offers advice in green-friendly solutions for almost every appliance your agency will need, and offers training for employees, building energy management programs, and more.
With an EPP plan, the most important thing to do is document your progress. You must be able to understand exactly what impact was made from your individualized EPP from the start. This includes reporting on taxpayer dollars savings with new equipment or processes that have been introduced.
4. Switch to Cloud
Cloud computing means that local governments can utilize the full benefits of a few networked servers, and reduce wasted computer resources. Municipal government employees' work is often subject to time sensitivity and security, and cloud systems solve that problem. Data can be shared and distributed safely within your own government network.
With a cloud-based system, government employees could have access to all of the documentation needed online and can more easily provide that information to the public, making it easier for citizens to find information online.
5. Follow the Path of Others Setting a Great Example, Then Set Your Own
It can be challenging to come up with new and innovative ways to help make your local agency environmentally efficient. Looking at other local governments that you admire is one of the best ways that any agency can see what works.
GovLoop curated a list of the 10 'cleanest' cities in the United States in 2015 and gave a short explanation of why those cities made their list. They chose to only include cities with a population over 500,000 people, but small municipalities can learn from their larger counterparts and see what works and why these larger cities have been recognized for their efforts in becoming greener communities.
Set clear goals for your organization to follow, educate your employees, implement an EPP plan, update your tools and try switching to a cloud-based system, all while learning from others and making examples of yourselves. Together, with all of the combined effort of local municipalities, we can make the world a little bit greener.
If you're skeptical about making the switch to a cloud-based operating system or switching from paper-based agenda management to digital, contact us and we can discuss how your organization can reduce your impact on the environment and save valuable working hours.