The GreeNWAy Internship at the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce has been such a great learning experience. I am not business-centric, and I had never been involved in something like this before. In the beginning, I thought that my experience with LEED certification of the Northwest Arkansas Free Health Center would be extremely helpful and similar to the experience I would have at the chamber, but was very surprised. I did not know that there would be such a sense of politics within the Fayetteville business district. In addition, I thought more businesses would have been involved in the local promotion of sustainability. I think that sustainability has a negative stigma attached to it, and the public as well as businesses just need a little education on the meaning of sustainability and the dynamics aspects of it. I would like to see Fayetteville as a more sustainable community, with community being the main concern. This newer idea of sustainability led me to the conception of the “People” section of the GreeNWAy Initiative.
So far, I have finished the “People” section of the new and improved GreeNWAy rating system. This section places importance on a few different aspects of social sustainability, such as education, employee satisfaction and comfort, community involvement, and networking locally. This section encourages potential GreeNWAy companies to incorporate a social element to their typically environmentally centered idea of sustainability. Happy and healthy employees make more productive workers, networking and purchasing within the community is always beneficial, and education on sustainability is already a large but growing part of business.
I am currently working on the “Profit” section of the rating system. This section rewards and offers suggestions on how businesses can be sustainable while still being profitable and not breaking the bank. The profit section proves that sustainability can exist in the business sector. There are several ways business can be sustainable while saving money, such as ordering computers and office supplies bulk (less packaging, better deals) or searching for grants to fund green energy. Some companies even will send rebates for highly efficiency systems and energy star products.
My goal is to promote sustainability and educate businesses on ways they can be sustainable without breaking the bank. A sustainable company is one that has happy management, happy employees, and happy customers, while also leaving the planet happy. My internship is coming to a close but there will be another blog post before I leave, so stay tuned for the surprise!