We thought a great way to end the week would be to share this short clip featuring Mike Lynch from the wildly successful NASCAR Green sharing some insight into his approach to green projects and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We think he's got some encouraging words that environmental managers from any industry should take to heart.

    (Thanks to 3BLM Media for publishing & Environmental Leader for bringing it to our attention)

    In case you missed it, we've already written an article about some of the key takeaways from NASCAR Green on our own blog. Check it out here to learn more.

    Even though the clip is less than 3 minutes, Lynch brings up a lot of great points about Corporate Social Responsibility that are worth digging into:

    "NASCAR Green was really built as a business to try and achieve a unique result to show that you can actually do high-performance green, compromise nothing, and have it stand on its own as a business"

    We think that the idea of "High-performance green" is exactly the mindset that every business looking at green initiatives should take. Too often, businesses think of "green", and environmental management in general, as an afterthought or a regulatory black hole, when the reality is that green/sustainability projects can absolutely be high-performance, income generating, public image boosting powerhouses. NASCAR gets it right when they aim for -and achieve- CSR plans that result in outstanding contributions. 

    Another example of green working at high-performance levels is the Volkswagen Chattanooga plant, which has won awards and achieved LEED certification thanks to its high expectations on green performance.

    Don't forget, if you want to aim for high-performance, a key part of your management strategy needs to include measuring and tracking results.

    We're also glad to hear Lynch emphasize that NASCAR Green is a business. If you want great results that have a real impact on your corporate success, you can't treat CSR like a hobby or side project. 

    "In green there's a million things you can chase... what are those two or three things that are the highest impact and matter the most?"

    Any environmental manager or compliance specialist looking to increase sustainability will inevitably have to confront the overwhelming number of options they could take. Lynch is right in suggesting that you not try and do it all - instead find just one thing you can do that will make a real difference and do it now.

    Find out where your business struggles the most and where you can have the biggest impact on the bottom line. For example, many businesses could save a lot of money if they reduced the amount of waste they have to ship, store, or treat every month. By selecting more efficient materials or improving processes, you could dramatically reduce your environmental footprint while putting money back into the company's coffers.

    And as we all know, picking a project that shows tangible - and monetary -  results as your first project is one of the best ways to get more funding and executive support for other sustainability projects down the line.

    In fact, while we agree with Lynch's outlook on finding the two or three projects which matter most, we also encourage environmental managers - especially those who work in small businesses or ones who are especially strapped for time and money -  to not forget the easy wins in the first stages of sustainability planning.

    "[You can] have a strong business result even in these early days of green products and technologies."

    It can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle when it comes to green projects since there's always some new and improved control technology, or lower VOC coating, or a cheaper renewable energy source just over the horizon. Some environmental managers get paralyzed by the worry that any investments they make now will just become obsolete next year, and others have a hard time securing funding to test out a relatively new green technology. But, as Lynch points out, just because the green technology sector is still growing (and booming) doesn't mean you can't get amazing results right now. 

    One of the best methods we suggest is to invest in something timeless or one that comes with a built-in defense against becoming outdated. For example, online environmental management tools can be endlessly updated on the fly, meaning you don't need to worry about buying a new one every year or so.

    The key takeaway here is: don't wait for things to be perfect before you act. Great results and savings are out there waiting for you to claim them, but you have to take action.


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    Alex Chamberlain
    Post by Alex Chamberlain
    November 16, 2012
    Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.