Why Is DENR Greener?
Within the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, employees engage in a wide variety of sustainable behavior. A quick look at our Sustainability Award winners provides some idea as to the types of projects developed within DENR divisions. We engage in “green practices” to varying degrees and most of us fall short of perfect sustainability. In an effort to continue making progress toward a more sustainable future, it may help to understand why our department strives to be “green.”
There are three main reasons to engage in sustainable practices in the workplace:
It Is The Law
Since 1993, a variety of executive orders and state laws have been put into place regarding environmentally-friendly work practices for all state employees. These include orders to recycle and buy recycled goods, conserve water and energy and reduce waste. The specifics of resource conservation and waste reduction can be found on the department’s website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=38811&folderId=1070373&name=DLFE-19547.pdf
In late 2001, the DENR Secretary’s Office officially adopted the following DENR Sustainability Policy:
“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and its Divisions are expected to take real and permanent steps to reduce unwanted environmental impacts in their daily activities and projects. All DENR Divisions should implement their own sustainability projects and make sure that employees have access to environmental education resources and materials.”
It Makes Sense
Though DENR agents and agencies have different responsibilities, we can all be good stewards of resources. Some green practices can save money. Cutting our energy consumption to a point below the annually budgeted amount is one action that conserves resources and saves money. This is what is meant by the term “avoided costs.” When we avoid unnecessary costs, we are being good stewards of North Carolina tax dollars. No matter how many employees our division has, we can all turn off a few switches and avoid some costs each day.
We Are The Example
Some DENR agencies have regulatory responsibilities. Being sustainable gives us credibility to “practice what we preach” by reducing consumption and waste. The North Carolina Zoo and the aquariums are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Several years ago, the AZA conducted a research project and visitors to these institutions felt strongly that as conservation organizations, it was very important to have green practices in place. Most divisions in DENR would be considered conservation organizations. It is reasonable to think that our customers expect us to “walk the walk!”
The DENR Sustainability Team is composed of representatives from 27 DENR divisions, offices and programs. Its mission is "to inspire a culture of sustainability within DENR by promoting environmentally responsible actions." More information on DENR Sustainability is available at portal.ncdenr.org/web/sustainability/home
Information on sustainability in buildings and lands in North Carolina is available on the state sustainability team NC Project Green website, www.ncprojectgreen.org.