Monday, February 4, 2008

Challenges and Mitigation Plans in Sustainability Implementation

Sustainability is still in a premature stage and this is especially true for developing countries. There are common challenges that many people need to consider during the implementation of the concept. This article will explore these challenges and give suggestions on how to mitigate them. The challenges can be separated into three areas, namely internal, client, and government.

Internal challenges and mitigation

Internal challenge is the first thing that you need to face before you start implementing sustainability further. After all, if you do not clean up your backyard first, how you can convince other people to do the same. The common challenges from internal perspective are lack of support, lack of knowledge, and "more works" attitude.

The first thing that you need to do before implementing sustainability in your organization is to gain top management support and commitment. Without this support and commitment, sustainability implementation will not achieve a successful outcome. This may sound easy, but the reality can be different. It is important for you to explore the benefits of sustainability for the organization. Then you need to explain these benefits in term of economic value whenever possible. This is the best way to convince your top management to approve the implementation.

Sometimes, even if top management has agreed to implement the concept, the problem is nobody understand how to do it. Lack of knowledge is a big issue, especially because sustainability concept is relatively new for many people. In this case, you need to prepare awareness programs to increase the knowledge and understanding of people in your organization. You need to explain implicitly the necessity of sustainability for the organization as well as the earth in general. You also can give external trainings to certain people so they can support you to implement the concept.

Another problem is "more works" attitude. When people hear that the organization will implement a new concept, the first thing that comes to their mind is I have to do more works because of this. Again your awareness programs should be able to tackle this issue as long as you can explain the importance of sustainability. Another strategy is to make a sustainability performance review. For example, people who have a good performance in terms of sustainability implementation will receive financial reward or other benefits.

Client challenges and mitigation

Clients can become a huge source of challenges, especially in construction industry, because they are the ones who pay for your service. The common challenges from client side are cost and cynicism. Sometimes it is very difficult to convince clients to spend more initial investment for sustainability implementation. You can mitigate this problem by explaining the benefit of sustainability in terms of life-cycle cost. You need to make them understand that sustainability will bring benefits in the long run. Another strategy is to show previous case studies and what they have achieved because of their sustainability commitment.

Government challenges and mitigation

The challenges related with government are lack of regulation and enforcement concerning sustainability, sustainability is still in premature stage and not a priority because to some countries, they may have more urgent issues. Actually, this situation can become an opportunity for you. You can attract government attention because of your sustainability implementation. You can collaborate with them and become a good example, which will increase your organization marketing value significantly. Another opportunity is to become the first in something sustainable. For example, the first building to have solar panel, the first zero carbon neutral organization, the first green certified office, etc.

No comments: