Going green with Greenbaud 
Like many companies, Blackbaud Inc.’s focus on green started as a grassroots effort, spearheaded by just a couple of employees with a passion for the idea. Based in Charleston, S.C., Blackbaud is a software company that primarily develops programs for nonprofit organizations, but also environmental, health care and educational institutions among others. The company has offices around the world, including in San Diego.

Known as Greenbaud, the employee-led group has 10 team leaders, including Brian Cook, the chief green officer (great title, by the way). Greenbaud is not a formal part of the company and doesn’t have a budget, but employees do their best to share their green message. They meet during lunch and try to make meetings flexible so the commitment is manageable, Cook said.

Cook has been the “chief greenie” for about a year (another great title). With a background as a project manager, he was a likely candidate to lead the group. And Cook has an interest in being green and protecting the environment, although he wouldn’t describe himself as a “liberal, treehugger,” he said.

In fact, that’s part of the perception he’s trying to change among employees at Blackbaud. A major focus of Greenbaud is education and helping employees see how even small changes in their homes and offices can have a big impact on the environment – they don’t have to turn into treehuggers.

At home, Cook is recycling and amazed at how much less trash his family generates. He’s trying to remember to carry his reusable bags into the grocery store and is switching out light bulbs to a more energy-efficient variety.

While Cook has a personal interest in exploring rainwater technology, water management and electricity generation, such as solar power, he stresses people don’t have to take on big, expensive or time-consuming green projects.

“I’m about being smart and often being smart and green are the same thing,” Cook said. “It’s being smart about the way you do things.”

Some of Greenbaud’s accomplishments include:
• Eliminating Styrofoam cups from the break rooms. Plus, the sale of Greenbaud coffee mugs benefited local Toys for Tots and Good Cheer Fund charities.
• The company’s Educational Services department reduced the page count for workbooks its uses and ships by almost 40 percent.
• Setting up battery collection bins in break rooms.
• Hosting two cell phone recycling drives.
• Working to increase the average building temperate to 76 degrees. Blackbaud's total electrical bill can range from $40,000 to $52,000 (highest in the summer, of course), so the change in temperature saves the company about 10 percent in the peak cooling summer months.
• Hosting educational field trips, guest speakers and a Green Fair.
• Participating in a local Adopt A Beach program.
• Maintaining a Greenbaud Web site accessible to all employees via the company intranet.

Cook said he looks at this list of accomplishments when he gets discouraged about Greenbaud’s slow progress. Much of the team’s work is trial and error, but Cook is persistent and sticks to the mission – even when employees don’t show the level of interest he anticipated or management isn’t quite as supportive as he had hoped.

Cook offered the following tips for other offices on the path to green:
• Get some early wins and focus on what is feasible, such as recycling or eliminating the Styrofoam cups.
• Find a way to make it fun for people so you can get them to participate. Cook pointed to the beach cleanup, which also serves as a fun team building exercise and a good way to recruit new members to the Greenbaud team.
• Have some team leads to share the responsibility. Particularly if employees are volunteering their time, it’s important to spread the work around.
• Be creative in your approach.
• Find a sponsor at the executive level who can support your team’s efforts.

So, this month, a big Green Thumbs Up to Greenbaud and the employees who are making a difference one green step at a time.

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