4 Simple Ways for Governments to Be More Environmentally Friendly

Lena Eisenstein

If you've made a personal commitment to saving energy and maintaining a greener earth, you might also consider the benefits of bringing some of those habits and practices into your local government office. The Greening Household Behaviour survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that almost one in five households said they weren't even aware of what recycling collection services were available in their area. That's a pretty good indication that we can all do a better job of being environmentally friendly at home and at work.

While there are plenty of global reasons for working toward a cleaner environment, creating an environmentally friendly workplace in local government may produce benefits that you may not have thought of.

Your local citizens are bound to take notice that government staff and elected officials are committed to improving the environment and sustainability. Local governments that actively promote green practices show their citizens the importance of becoming environmentally friendly. The changes provide a healthy model for citizens to emulate and may encourage them to change some of their own wasteful habits at home.


>> Learn More On Our "Operationalizing ESG: A Roadmap for Boards & Their Organizations" Whitepaper


Not only will citizens be inspired by local governments that demonstrate a commitment to environmentally healthy practices, local businesses may get on the bandwagon and make changes within their businesses to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner. As customers or clients of local businesses begin to see the value in green lifestyle changes, they're bound to become loyal customers of businesses that opt to go green.

Be careful not to overlook the perspectives of the Millennial generation. According to a Nielsen study, up to 72% of consumers aged 15'20 said they were willing to pay more for products and services from environmentally friendly companies. Our iCompass survey indicated that most local governments anticipated a 66% turnover in staff over the next 10 years. Millennials are bound to make up the bulk of your workforce in the coming decade. Local governments that make moves toward an environmentally friendly workplace will be more likely to attract the best talent.

Benefits to Environmentally Friendly Governments

The reality is that local governments that promote a green-friendly culture in the workplace inspire their citizens and local businesses to reduce their carbon footprint as well. The impact of the total effort has an exponential effect that creates a win-win situation for everyone.

The IBM Center for The Business of Government states that there are numerous recent studies and media accounts that show how companies are moving toward green production, with the goal of improving the environment. Such companies are boasting significant financial benefits as a result of their efforts. The changes are proving to be efficient and cost-effective. Most importantly, the impact of their efforts is being enjoyed generally by society.

4 Simple Ways to Create an Environmentally Friendly Local Government Workplace

According to the OECD, it's relatively easy to develop an environmentally friendly atmosphere in local government offices when you think about categorizing green practices into five distinct areas, including:

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Transportation
  4. Food
  5. Waste

Things the government can do to help the environment

Here are four practical ways to be environmentally friendly in your municipality:

1. Encourage Environmentally Friendly Employee Practices

Coach all employees to be conscious of saving energy. Encourage employees to turn off lights in rooms that aren't in use, such as storerooms, restrooms and breakrooms.

Instruct employees to turn off computers, printers and power strips at the end of the workday. Ask employees to delay turning lights and office equipment back on the next day until they really need to use them. Make sure that monitors are set on the most energy-efficient settings and eliminate screensavers on computers.

2. Making Environmentally Friendly Changes in Local Government Facilities

Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs. Rearrange office furniture and add window coverings that allow for as much natural sunlight to flood the workspace as possible.

Your breakroom or lunchroom is a good place to start. Replace paper and plasticware with reusable dishes that employees can wash rather than throw away. Add some recycling bins as a visible reminder to recycle. Request vending machine servicers to fill machines with healthy drinks and snacks, such as fruit juices, granola, fruit and pretzels. Provide a water cooler to reduce the collection of plastic water bottles in the office. Healthier eating leads to a healthier lifestyle, and local governments are bound to reap the rewards with employees who take fewer sick days.

Have you checked your cleaning supply cabinet lately? Invest in green cleaning products to keep the office green and smelling clean.

To reduce paper use, set printers to print on both sides. For the times when paper use can't be avoided, opt for recycled paper. In addition, check out other eco-friendly office supplies, such as refillable ink cartridges and non-toxic highlighter pens.

3. Foster Clean Commute Initiatives

Local government employees often live right in town. Rather than encouraging staff to drive to work by themselves, foster discussions about transportation options such as walking or biking. Perhaps employees might want to ride-share or to take public transportation. Up the ante by offering a 'clean commuting' award for employees who practice clean commuting for a specified period of time.

4. Software Solutions Help to Reduce the Local Government Carbon Footprint

Establishing local environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria, where focus changes region by region, has become a priority for many local governments, but the hallmarks of carbon reduction remain consistent across locales. Think about taking the office as paperless as possible. iCompass, a Diligent brand, makes this possible with board management software that enables efficiency in creating board agendas and meeting minutes while eliminating paper use completely. The program helps local governments to drastically cut down on excessive ink and paper costs when compiling board meeting books. Last-minute changes are no problem, as public officials can access the latest changes online in real time.


>> Learn More With Our "Operationalizing ESG: A Roadmap for Boards & Their Organizations" Whitepaper


Store an unlimited number of important records using secure cloud-based storage. Reduce paper from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with a Transparency Portal where citizens can retrieve public documents electronically. iCompass, a Diligent brand, offers the best ways to be environmentally friendly while enhancing meeting efficiency and keeping citizens strongly connected to their local government.

Ways to Share Your Environmentally Friendly Efforts Publicly

It's likely that your efforts to go green won't go unnoticed. As long as you're making the effort to create big changes, take the time to promote the benefits of creating an environmentally friendly workplace by writing an informative post about it on your Civic Web Portal, a citizen page that seamlessly integrates with your local government website. It's a fantastic way to demonstrate to citizens how small changes can generate a big impact on our environment.

Related Insights
Lena Eisenstein
Lena Eisenstein is a former Manager at Diligent. Her expertise in mission-driven organizations, including nonprofits, school boards and local governments, centers on how technology and modern governance best practices empower leaders at these organizations to serve their communities with efficiency and purpose.