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Net Impact Green Challenge Case Studies

Net Impact reports on effective office-greening projects

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Net Impact Green Challenge

The winners of the first Net Impact Green Challenge were responsible for developing environmental programs that included dramatic reduction in office-paper use, funding carbon offset programs and maximizing energy efficiency in offices.

The challege, which was created by Net Impact and sponsored by Seventh Generation and Office Depot, included two categories: the Greening the Campus Initiative focused on colleges and universities, while the Impact at Work program centered around private-sector companies.

Green Projects Submitted by Greening Business Winners

At Accenture, a management consulting company, Lisa Neuberger form a volunteer group of 75 employees in 15 cities to both help understand how best to implement sustainable practices at the large and far-flung company, which has more than 152,000 employees worldwide, as well as to serve as an advisory group to help develop Accenture's environmental initiatives in the United States.

Jeremy Litchfield and his colleagues at RedPeg Marketing worked to spread environmental awareness at the 50-person company while also making an impact. The group replaced all the incandescent light bulbs in the office to compact fluorescents, used double-sided printing on all computers, and increased the recycling and use of recycled-content paper at the office.

At Brown-Forman, which makes and distributes wines and liquors, Chris Reitz developed an awareness campaign to highlight the company's use of paper and printing resources, as well as recycling the paper used by the office. Over the course of the program, Reitz found that the number of employees who said they "often consider" and are "acutely aware" of the impact of their everyday actions on the environment increased by 11.4 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively, the number of employees who recycled rose by 10.4 percent, and the number of employees who printed materials only when absolutely necessary rose by 476 percent.

"We were thrilled with the impact our Green Challenge winners had on their institutions," said Liz Maw, Executive Director of Net Impact. "What is also promising is that everyone involved in Impact at Work and Campus Greening Initiative has solid plans to help their companies or schools become more environmentally responsible."

More details about the projects, including case studies from some of the programs, can be found at

Green Awareness Program Highlights

"Double-Sided printing" Awareness Campaign at Brown-Forman

The Brown-Forman awareness campaign involved posting an article containing facts on company printer use and costs, including tips for reducing printer and paper use (and instructions on duplex printing), to my company’s intranet portal, and speeches and presentations to educate employees and encourage reduced consumption and recycling. In order to quantify the effects of my efforts, a survey before and after the campaign was conducted.

Presentations were delivered at the company’s local Toastmasters meetings member), the 2007 Environmental Summit, and multiple departmental staff meetings.

A one page “Quick Reference Card” containing instructions for configuring one’s printer for double-sided printing. These instructions were included in the intranet article and can be found on the company’s intranet portal.

Result: this project has helped raise awareness across Brown-Forman Corporation regarding the company’s use of paper and printing resources, as well as how paper waste is disposed of. Employees are beginning to consider how their daily decisions impact one another and the world around them, and how they can be better environmental stewards. In this regard, the project was successful in accomplishing its objectives.

"Greening an Office" at RedPeg Marketing

The goal was to focus on the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and put systems and procedures into place the would lessen the environmental impact of the company. The plan was to start right off with a full environmental audit of the organization, make a plan on how we can be greener and implement it with senior management support. However, as we went through the process we discovered how unaware our organization was on the issues. It was not at all that they did not care, but rather they did not understand. As a team we decided to take a step back and focus on educating people within the organization.

During the educational phase we used a variety of tactics to help people better understand the issues at hand. Every week at our company staff meeting one of the Green Team members would bring an article to the company addressing an environmental issue. Most of these articles focus on issues affecting marketing trends or general business. We also encouraged our colleagues to sign up for different newsletters such as Ideal Bite and Treehugger to help keep the issue top of mind. Finally, several people hosted screenings of An Inconvenient Truth to help drive the issue home.

These steps were very successful in creating much more interest around the challenge and we moved onto the next phase of our strategy – a full environmental audit of our office. Led by the green team, several other employees joined as we walked through the office compiling a list of all the areas in which we could improve out environmental performance. The result was a comprehensive list of actionable items we could take as a company. Many of them were very simple such as setting all computers to default to double-sided printing. However, many changes would require a substantial investment, such as replacing all the windows in our building.

Many initial steps have been taken that will allow us to start measuring our impact through reduced consumption of energy and materials. The following actions have been taken over the last 6 weeks.

  • Many people have eliminated the use of the elevator not only for health reasons, but also from an understanding of the amount of energy it consumes
  • All incandescent bulbs were switched to CFLs (60 total bulbs)
  • Instructions for making double sided copies were put next to every copy machine
  • All computers were set to default to double sided printing
  • All B&W Printers and Copy Machines are loaded with a minimum of 30% recycled paper
  • A blue recycle bin was put next to every trash can in the office
  • Recycling instructions were distributed to all employees and put up next to all recycling bins
  • Transferred telecom services to a socially responsible business that donates 3% of customer revenue to nonprofit organizations.
Recommendations: Start from the ground up, build grassroots support for your efforts. At the same time, you will eventually need buy-in from the upper management. It is a push and pull


Edited by Carolyn Allen
| green business | green office |


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