New organization supports sustainability practices in business

Authored By [email protected]

In the past 10 years, Chattanooga’s sustainability sector has grown as companies are realizing the economic, social and environmental benefits, officials said. 

“It’s important to dedicate time to sustainability because we have reached a point in both our business and societal culture where green practices are an expectation,” Elizabeth Hammitt, president of Sustainability Professionals of Greater Chattanooga, said.

If you go

The organization is hosting bimonthly events that are open to the public. 

The events will cost $10 for nonmembers and will be hosted at GreenSpaces, 63 E. Main St., from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

May 8: Getting Started with Going Green at Your Office

July 10: Fear of Costs: Justifying Green Programs

Sept. 11: Product Sustainability and Certifications: Preventing Greenwashing

Nov. 13: Implementing a Recycling Program at Your Workplace

Sustainability Professionals of Greater Chattanooga is a new organization created to help local leaders navigate ways to implement sustainability in the corporate world. The group is hosting a series of bimonthly educational events featuring experts examining different areas of sustainability and showcasing best practices.

According to the organization, a growing number of people’s jobs involve sustainability practices within their corporations.

And Hammitt said more businesses are making it a point to incorporate sustainability practices because of the scores of success stories that prove sustainable practices are good for business. 

“Green practices are getting closer and closer to being mainstream, just another metric to measure for success,” she said. “A combination of forces like public awareness, community investment and clear business opportunity has created a perfect storm for continuing this growth.”

Common benefits from sustainable practices are reduced operating costs, increased employee engagement, risk aversion, and better product differentiation and brand value, she also said. 

“Sustainability professionals promote a triple bottom line: people, planet and prosperity-taking all three into consideration is a lasting, comprehensive impact,” Hammitt said. 

 The Sustainability Professionals of Greater Chattanooga informally formed two years ago, Hammitt said. 

“We officially formed as of March 2015 and are a program under the GreenSpaces umbrella,” she said. 

The group now has 18 members who represent 15 companies. 

Hammitt said the educational event series will start with a kickoff luncheon at GreenSpaces on May 8. 

“Often, there is only one or two people working on green programs within a company, so it helps to spend time together, [and] trade ideas and best practices,” Hammitt said. “Many people want to be more sustainable but just do not know where to start.”

Hammitt said membership is open to anyone who is interested in starting a sustainability program at their office or who already spends at least 25 percent of their time working on sustainability activities. 

Membership costs $50 and includes member-only roundtable discussions, field trips, resources and more.

“We believe that each organization, no matter its size or focus, can benefit from investing in sustainable practices,” Hammitt said. “We are here to help continue the remarkable success of Chattanooga’s environmental story.”

To view events and for more information, click here. 

Meg Ferguson graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with two bachelor’s degrees in English: creative writing and communication. She served for three years on The University Echo, the student newspaper of UTC, as a staff writer, assistant news editor and managing editor. She currently works full time at Unum in their Leave Management Center as an FMLA specialist, where she is responsible for processing complex FMLA policies and practices. In her spare time, Meg loves to enjoy Chattanooga’s outdoors and local restaurants and participate in Chattanooga’s running events. You can connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.