CDYMCA Key Issues
The first issue facing the YMCA is a lack of buy-in by stakeholders in regard to sustainability initiatives. As a result, the YMCA needs a strategic plan that can be presented to the CEO and Board of Directors on achieving buy-in.
Although sustainability is very important to some of the individuals associated with the YCMA, the general feeling is that sustainability is not as important as the operations of the YMCA’s operations and programs. Being a non-for-profit, the YMCA is limited in the amount of capital it can spend on sustainability initiatives.
The second issue the YMCA is facing relates to its branding and its positioning within the market space. The fact that the CDYMCA is the largest provider of child care in the region has gone largely unnoticed. In addition, the CDYMCA is seen primarily as a fitness center as opposed to a wellness center.
This market position causes the CDYCMA to be compared with other fitness centers, such as Gold’s Gym, thereby creating a disadvantage.
Our Call to Action
After reviewing the issues, our team has decided to develop a long-term, strategic plan for sustainability that will engage stakeholders on all levels. Our plan has two sections, a 3-part sustainability plan and a solar thermal project at the Guilderland, NY branch of the YMCA. Our sustainability plan has been divided into three parts.
The first part is the forming of branch green teams, which will eventually report to the Director of Property/Project Management, Patrick Barrington.
The second part is using sustainability education to engage the members of the YMCA, most notably young children and their parents. We will pursue this through various on-site and after school programs, with possible partnerships with SUNY Albany and the use of guest speakers.
Before that can occur however, we suggest a training/education program for new and current employees. Employees cannot teach others about sustainability unless they themselves understand it.
The final part of our plan will focus on performance metrics. Currently, due to old technology and the lack of a baseline for metrics, energy is not effectively tracked at the YMCA branches. We will suggest metrics that can be tracked and utilized to achieve continuous improvement and better energy management at each branch.
The second section of our proposal is the solar thermal project in the Guilderland, NY branch of the YMCA. Here, we will analyze the costs and benefits of using thermal solar panels to heat the pool by projecting cost savings. Further details, including the project’s relation to marketing and public relations are discussed later.
Guilderland YMCA Proposal
Part 1 – The Green Team
The Green Team is a group of staff members from a department, office, or organization that meet regularly to educate themselves and their colleagues about sustainability, examine the sustainability of office and work practices, and create innovative solutions.
The Green Team’s responsibility is to engage the employees and foster green initiatives that can be put into action, as well as measure progress on implementations that have been put into practice. The Green Team can be promoted through the use of the YMCA’s Facebook page.
There will be one green team at each CDYMCA branch. The team would be volunteer-based; however, members from all levels of the facility would be encouraged to join to allow for different perspectives of the organization. The number of team members is best left up to the YMCA’s management should they choose to implement it because there is no research to suggest an optimal number of members. Team members would have different responsibilities, titles, and areas of expertise.
The leader of the Green Team could be voted upon. The Director of Property/Project Management, Patrick Barrington, would be placed in charge of the green teams. The green team leaders would report directly to him, who in turn would report directly to the YMCA President and CEO, David Brown.
Green teams would meet at their respective facilities every two weeks. The regional meeting of the green team leaders from each branch would meet quarterly. The time spent in these meetings is best left up to YMCA’s management as well.
The green teams work both bottom-up and top-down. Green team members gather employees’ suggestions and opinions and report to the top-management. Top-management passes down sustainability rules and principles to green teams to pass to staff members.
Each green team should determine which sustainability issues they feel are most important to the YMCA, and create a rough prioritization of these issues. Areas to consider would include but are not limited to: energy, water use, material waste, transportation, office equipment and computing, supply chains, and purchasing.
All consumption should be measured in terms of usage amounts or costs. There should be base metrics for each consumption area along with related goals focused on lessening these numbers by a certain percentage or amount each year. In addition, there needs to be a detailed list of how the YMCA plans to reach each goal it sets (i.e. lower waste 5% by 2011 by working with the local waste disposal company).
Each month, these measurements should be graphed against the metrics and analyzed for patterns that arise throughout the course of the year. As the amount of historical data increases, the YMCA will begin to see trends and the effect of seasonality on the organization. This data can then be used for future projections and benchmarking; benchmarking against other YMCAs should continue to be used as well.
Suggestions from the Green Team could include: A clear definition of the action to be taken (one sentence or less), quantifiable benefits that the YMCA would receive from implementing the action along with intangible benefits (employee satisfaction, morale), an outline of the costs of the program, a summary of the risks associated with the action, and how the action will be tracked, measured and reported to the executive team and employees.
The following are examples of how to engage employees: have a suggestion box for employees/members, implement a “Green Employee of the Month” recognition program, or email employees with green tips and stories to motivate them. As an example, the emails could include monthly usage metrics of energy costs to keep employees up to date with the YMCA’s continuous improvement. The YMCA could invite green speakers to speak during lunch or at all-staff meetings.
Employees could be encouraged to carpool or bicycle to work. Instead of Earth day, celebrate the entire month with competitions, green (healthy) foods, prizes, etc. Encourage buying recycled products/supplies for the office. Research the cleaning supplies and search for healthier/greener alternatives. Have donation drives for gently used shoes, clothing, electronics, etc. Hand out green re-usable bags and travel mugs with the YMCA logo, or offer them in stores as a profitable product/marketing tool.
Not only will many of these suggestions get the employees involved, but they will invariably get YMCA members involved as well. The Green Team will use signs and set the monthly and yearly goals that the facility must strive to reach. Exhibit 1 shows an example of signs that can be posted on the wall. Exhibit 2 shows the checklist that the Green Team can use to measure how green each branch is.
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