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The 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

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Articles - June 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

0614100bgOregon is known for its green-minded citizens, and many workers are attracted to firms and organizations that practice green, not just pay lip service to it.

Our sixth annual 100 Best Green Workplaces survey shows just how important employees rate sustainable practices. Recycling, energy conservation and buying local are just a few of the policies employees want to see in their workplace. The best green companies and nonprofits are acting on these preferences, offering bonuses for biking and taking public transport; recycling and composting; and cutting energy use.

Employers’ efforts to green their workplaces parallels what is happening at the regulatory level. State authorities are implementing energy efficiency policies in the electric utility sector and transitioning transportation to cleaner fuels. Gov. John Kitzhaber’s 10-year energy plan calls for all of the state’s new electricity demand to be met through energy efficiency and conservation. 

Momentum is also increasing in the western U.S. to create a regional partnership to combat climate change. The Pacific Coast Action Plan, an agreement signed by governors of Oregon, Washington, California and the premier of British Columbia last year, calls for harmonizing greenhouse-gas reduction targets and putting a price on carbon emissions. 

These are just some of the examples of how greening the workplace is part of a broader effort to green the economy.

0614100bg2Who are the 100 Best Green workplaces?
Almost 70% of the 100 Best Green Workplaces are for-profit companies, with nonprofits making up the remainder. Education, training and community development made up the largest sector (20%), consisting solely of nonprofits. Architecture, engineering and design made up the next largest segment (11%), followed by consulting (7%). Sectors with just a small percentage of green workplaces include healthcare; advertising, marketing and PR; accounting; telecom and internet; and utility.


How satisfied are employees with green practices in the workplace?
Participants of the 100 Best Green Workplaces survey were most content with their workplaces’ policies for recycling paper, glass, metals, packaging and other materials. They also had a high satisfaction rate for their workplaces’ sustainability mission. “Opportunities for participation in sustainability activities — both in our workplace and communities — are encouraged at all levels of our organization,” says one staffer.

On the flip side, employees participating in the survey were least content with their employers’ rewards and recognition of workers for meeting sustainability goals, such as taking public transport. “I would like to see more initiative in the offering of transportation subsidies,” says one employee. Employees also had lower satisfaction rates for their workplaces’ efforts to reduce toxic materials and chemicals, to conserve water and to measure progress toward sustainability. Greening the workplace is a well-established business practice, but it appears many employers have yet to tackle tougher challenges, such as reporting on steps taken towards meeting green goals.


How employers rate their sustainable practices
Companies and nonprofits were required to fill out 15 questions that showed to what degree workplaces support and promote sustainable practices. All participating companies scored highest on their support for recycling materials, such as paper and glass. They also scored highly on buying local materials and supplies, as well as conserving energy, such as turning off unused equipment and using energy-efficient light bulbs. Companies got lower overall scores for more sophisticated green practices, such as buying renewable power or carbon offsets. They also ranked lower for rewarding or recognizing employees for being sustainable and investing in green facilities, such as LEED-certified buildings.

How are the Companies judged?
The 100 Best Green Workplaces were determined by 16,000 employees from more than 400 companies and nonprofits that took part in two anonymous surveys: The 2014 100 Best Companies and 2013 100 Best Nonprofits projects. As part of the surveys, Oregon workers rated their satisfaction with and the importance of 10 statements related to sustainable practices at their workplaces, such as green missions and goals, recycling and waste reduction, support for public transit, energy and water conservation, and buying local. Employers were also independently scored on 15 questions about their sustainability policies. 

For more information on our 100 Best, click here.


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