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Greening the Workplace: Adding Value to the Workplace

1st October, 2008
Arbutus Ridge Golf Club in Southern Vancouver Island is known for its lush landscapes and ideal climate, so it seems fitting that Arbutus Ridge employees are passionate about the environment.

When General Manager Jason Lowe heard – via a performance review – team member Gracie Wilcox’s concerns about making the workplace more eco-friendly, he realized that they shared a dedication for the environment, and asked her if she would be interested in chairing a Greening Committee at Arbutus Ridge. The Greening Committee has been instrumental in recruiting, connecting and inspiring employees.

The Greening Committee at Arbutus Ridge is made up of five to six team members from different departments; Gracie serves as chair, and Jason takes minutes and offers feedback and progress reports. The committee meets on a monthly basis, and discusses methods for making Arbutus Ridge more environmentally-friendly. Gracie Wilcox explains that these projects vary in size and scale, and include setting up recycling areas, replacing/fixing an old refrigerator in the kitchen and measuring the golf club’s carbon footprint. “Ultimately, our goal is to convert to self-sufficiency, to become completely carbon neutral,” she comments.

Arbutus Ridge has seen benefits of the Greening Committee in many areas of the business. The physical environment (both indoors and outdoors) has been improved and made more eco-friendly; the focus on going green also attracts like-minded customers. Additionally, the current employees involved with the Greening Committee are empowered and energized about their ability to create positive change at Arbutus Ridge. “Even in smaller projects,” Gracie observes, “when [team members] can see results, it’s contagious.” Jason adds that the committee “gets like minds together to induce innovative ideas,” increasing teamwork and motivation.

Furthermore, there were more team-member recruits this year than in previous years, and Jason believes the Greening Committee plays a big part in this. And because of these employee referrals, the company has not had to do much traditional recruitment this year. However, the Arbutus Ridge has advertised the Greening Committee to positive results in their recruitment ads, and is discussing whether to describe the committee and the golf club’s dedicated to environmentally-friendly practices during their interview process. “We want this woven into the fabric of our culture,” Jason states.

Any company can benefit from a Greening Committee, and forming one is a simple process, based on bringing together those who care about the environment. Jason describes, “Once you have a chair, it's easy…then it's a matter of the mission statement and goals. Start by doing an inventory of what you are currently doing that is environmentally minded, and then listing future projects. When listing future projects, determine a cost (if applicable) and a payback period. This will help to prioritize.”

Gracie advises to get as many people involved as possible, and to start with less extensive projects so that committee members can begin green projects right away; these quick results can show all employees that the Greening Committee is improving the workplace. Jason adds, “At some point, it may be necessary to bring in third-party expertise and guidance,” especially when setting and working to achieve long-term goals.

Greening Committee meetings should be structured and held on a regular basis; while scheduling these meetings can be a challenge, having motivated members will help the committee to thrive. Both Jason and Gracie voiced that their personal enthusiasm for a green life has renewed their appreciation for Arbutus Ridge. "It has changed my perspective as an employee because it has incorporated my passion into the workplace," says Gracie. "It has prolonged my desire to work here because I can feel a difference and see our growth." Jason adds, “It adds value to the workplace for me.”

Jason Lowe and Gracie Wilcox at Arbutus RidgeGM Jason Lowe awards Arbutus Ridge Greening Committee Chair Gracie Wilcox with the Star of the Month certificate.