5 Key Lessons to Make Green Go Viral

By: Liz Maw | October 3, 2013

Two and a half years ago, Susan Carriegos heard about a solar installation going up on a new TD Bank store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was the talk of the local community. Intrigued, Susan decided to visit during construction, and learned about the project's aims to become a net zero energy store that produces as much energy as it consumes. Looking back, Susan says, that experience became the deciding factor in her decision to apply to the bank as a Store Manager.

At Net Impact, we hear stories like Susan's and we cheer - it just goes to show that employees today are more committed than ever to making an impact through their careers, which is why it's so important for employers to take the steps necessary to embed sustainability into their own workforce culture and practices. It's also important we learn lessons from others - and our newest report released in partnership with GreenBiz Group does just that. TD Bank: Where Going Green is Going Viral shares the five critical lessons learned from the bank's experience launching a new environmental employee engagement program:

Lesson 1: Think big, but introduce short-term wins to build momentum.
Lesson 2: Recruit well-respected senior leaders who will trumpet your cause and rally their people to it.
Lesson 3: Know your audiences, and approach them in ways that resonate.
Lesson 4: Define metrics that matter to performance.
Lesson 5: Embed environment into the goals, processes, and culture.

So how did TD Bank get to the point where we can share its key insights? For one, it started with finding the right champions who wanted to take an ambitious step toward progress. The head of TD Environment, Diana Glassman, in collaboration with TD's U.S. Green Council (a group of senior leaders across the bank), launched the bank's Environmental Employee Engagement program in 2012 to build upon the company's green real estate achievements.

The program works to bring environmental awareness into the lives of employees spread across nearly 1,300 stores from Maine to Florida for the benefit of the bank, workers, and the communities in which they live and work. We believe that by participating in environmental programs through their work, employees will infuse learning about water conservation, energy efficiency, and community activities into their personal lives as well, says Glassman.

TD Bank also drew from other models for inspiration, including Net Impact's very own Impact at Work Toolkit before settling on its own model: the 4Hs of Environmental EngagementSM. This methodology combines employee awareness (Head), emotional connection (Heart), involvement (Hands), and pride in sharing accomplishments with peers and customers (Horn). TD Bank has also piloted competition-based metrics, including an interactive dashboard that displays each store's standing in support of the company's Green Pledge. As of September 2013, nearly 50% of 12,500 employees have taken the Green Pledge to reduce the company's footprint - and TD Bank has seen a reduction in office paper usage by 11% and improved employee pride and commitment where the program has been launched.

Looking back, TD Bank's environmental accomplishments in such a short time are truly impressive. But most importantly, they are replicable. That is why we hope this case study will prove valuable in the hands of emerging impact leaders and companies - in both our network and beyond.

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