I had a great day on Tuesday exploring a Community of Practice that has formed within a NSW local government council. This group call themselves the green champions and 40 representatives across the council participate to make sustainability an integral part of every staff member's daily activities. The aim is to 'show by doing'.
Some of the reasons it works: the CEO and elected leader openly advocate the group and provide legitimacy for its activities. This encourages managers to support the involvement of their staff. There is a small core group that work to tap into and unleash the Green Champions' passion for sustainability. Members of the group spoke about how the Green Champions allows them to make a difference, how they learn about sustainability and can take that home and into their personal lives (such as the school sustainability committee). Some of them have the opportunity to apply their formal qualifications in water, waste, energy management etc. Members described some of the key success factors as the informal nature of the group, how it can avoid some of the internal red tape to get things done, their opportunity to contribute ideas and see them actioned and how every area of the business is represented. The group like it that they are a little edgy and can push the boundaries to get things done.
An example of how the group makes a difference:
earlier this year the group conducted a 'Switch-off Blitz'. After hours, the group assembled and went through every floor and checked every workstation to check computers, and monitors, were switched off. Everyone who had done the right thing were rewarded with a note from the "green ninja" saying well done and a block of fair trade chocolate. Those who have not switched off their computers properly received a note saying, "no chocolate for you, the green ninja is not happy". The energy monitoring system recorded a significant drop in energy consumption following the switch off blitz which has been maintained. It's a great example of how the informal system can make a difference. It was inspiring to see this group in action.