Industry Collaboration: Achieving Broader Sustainability Goals
Within an organization, regardless of the goals at hand, organized task forces, working groups, and focus groups have historically formed to solve the most pressing issues. Going beyond the walls of a corporation, community based groups have served the purpose to plan or redesign our cities, economies, and industries- finding cures for global diseases and making paramount discoveries in science and technology. How can we merge these two parallel worlds of internal tasks for the benefit of the company and its customers with external tasks for the benefit of a broader, intragroup effort in order to enhance sustainability efforts and operational performance across economies and societies?
As a basic explanation of group dynamics: groups strive on cohesiveness and skill/knowledge sharing. Remember these when using the basic principles in moving sustainability efforts forward and working on projects and programs.
The Value of Cohesive Efforts
To be successful, groups must make cohesiveness and goal sharing a top priority.
- Solicit diverse team members with various skills and expertise but not at the expense of disconnect in goal sharing.
- Engage multiple industries. Each have unique priorities so be sure to align with and consider the priorities of all parties involved.
- Leverage existing partnerships. Whether philanthropic, strategic or financial, you all got on the same boat to see the success of the effort.
- Team up with vendors and suppliers not just to fulfill a simple task by providing a product or service, but to join you in the effort, in turn, making it easier and cheaper along the way.
- Create a clear message. If there are gaps between members, this could damage the image and success of the effort.
Brainstorming and Idea Sharing
- Encourage an open forum of ideas sharing. Come together to help solve a problem you are facing. It’s guaranteed that others have experienced similar issues before or have creative ideas to seek solutions.
- Share best practices, new techniques, new products or new solutions. This is a free market and all are entitled to the same solutions. Avoid putting up barriers and thinking there is magic behind your success. Share positive experiences from certain vendors and products to work toward the common goal.
- This is not a competition. Groups must take their competitive hats off at the door and work together to reach regional success instead of silo approach to individuals.
- Identify opportunities to collaborate on projects or pilot new techniques and technologies.
Using this formula, here is a spotlight on how a group of companies joined community advocates to improve operational efficiency and enhance their reach of their internal sustainability programs.
Spotlight on an Industry-Based and Community-Wide Initiative
From a business perspective, as consumers and organizations demand rises for sustainable practices, industries have had to adapt to the changing market to increase competitive advantage. The travel and tourism market of visitors and prospective city wide convention clients have made it a priority to assess the region’s sustainability efforts as part of their decision-making process.
Recognizing the critical economic and social roles that the hospitality industry plays in Central Florida, sustainability advocates in the community created the Hospitality Advocacy Committee (HAC). The HAC’s objective was to be a catalyst for transforming the regional hospitality industry towards sustainable practices and community wide efforts.
To achieve this goal, Green Destination Orlando was founded as a community focused program. Through industry partnerships with Visit Orlando (formerly Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau), the Central Florida Energy Efficiency Alliance, and the US Green Building Council Central Florida Chapter, the HAC created a framework and master plan for the Green Destination Orlando Program.
The group determined a need to create a total sustainability experience: from the moment a visitor steps off the plane in Orlando, to the transportation to their hotel, from their stay at local lodging, to their daily activities (be it a conference or family vacation), and all the way back to the airport, the complete loop never breaks, creating a sustainability experience.
While performing due diligence on existing sustainability hospitality programs throughout the country, HAC leveraged the knowledge and feedback from industry experts such as Florida Green Lodging, Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC), I-Drive Chamber of Commerce, University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management, and Meeting Professionals International (MPI). The Green Destination Orlando program is open to any facility supporting the hospitality industry, including restaurants, shopping venues, entertainment, transportation companies and others. The GDO program is a multi-year process that fosters continuous improvement, increased efficiency and operational cost savings.
Today, Green Destination Orlando is being recognized around the country for its vision and practical application. In fact, USGBC National is promoting Green Destination Orlando as a blueprint for other major hospitality/tourism markets wanting to create a sustainability experience.
Participants in the program have become leaders in sustainability, realized operational cost savings from various efficiency projects, and have engaged clients and customers like never before.
The program is supported by the US Green Building Council, Central Florida Chapter, an independent non-profit organization with a mission of being the source for transforming the Central Florida built environment through education and outreach about sustainable planning, design, construction and operations.
This example shows how the companies and parties involved in this industry-based community-wide effort learned the formula to support and upgrade their customer offerings, market penetrability, and overall image.
Jeff Benavides is a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in Operations & Maintenance (LEED AP O+M). Jeff is a founding member of the Green Destination Orlando Program and is senior project manager at ecoPreserve: Building Sustainability, which provides strategic planning, project management and building certification consulting services to incorporate sustainability into organizations and existing buildings of all sizes. Follow @ecoPreserve on twitter and at www.ecoPreserve.net. To learn more about Green Destination Orlando visit www.usgbc-cf.org.
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