Going green in a business environment is about more than going paperless. Tackling environmental issues and leaving a legacy of sustainability for future generations are urgent priorities for many citizens and governments alike. With this in mind, it is important for local government leaders to look for ways to make their government processes more environmentally friendly and efficient.
Many municipalities engage in green initiatives without even realizing it. Efforts toward sustainability, energy efficiency or workflow effectiveness can all fall under the “green” umbrella. A municipality’s goals for going green also may vary from fiscal or social responsibility and simple workplace process improvement to quality of life initiatives such as green spaces and air and water quality.
Enterprise asset management (EAM) software is one commonly used tool for addressing a basic green initiative: going paperless. Municipalities use EAM to manage asset inventories and associated usage and maintenance for things like water mains, utility meters and traffic lights, for example, while also helping to maintain regulatory compliance. Below are some examples of how a few municipalities have used asset management software to support green initiatives and reduce their carbon footprints:
City of Fontana, California
Like many California communities, Fontana has been affected by the state’s severe drought. In 2014, the city’s Public Works Department began going paperless and using their EAM software to track water usage. While the transition to EAM-enabled tablets improved efficiency for field employees, the biggest benefit was utilizing data to plan water usage. By analyzing water-usage patterns in data imported from partnering, private water and landscaping companies, issues such as leaks or over-watering were more quickly revealed. This led to $50,000 in savings the first month and over $1 million over the first four years. Now the city is also working with IBM to use sensors to capture water usage data in real time.
Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern Kentucky (SD1)
With a workforce distributed over three counties and approximately 200 square miles, SD1 in Northern Kentucky wanted a more streamlined work order process. When the district went paperless, work orders were immediately deployed electronically to workers at any location, leading to savings beyond just paper; they recouped valuable staff time. Data also enables SD1 to balance planned and reactive work as well as manage inventory remotely. By proactively taking up to eight hours to set up their asset management system, SD1 saved approximately 162 hours of administrative data entry and maintenance annually, highlighting the significant return on investment they gained by establishing a paperless workflow.
City of Lenexa, Kansas
Lenexa, Kansas, resides about twenty minutes from downtown Kansas City. Beginning in 2000, multiple departments from Lenexa’s Municipal Services initiated projects tending to the city’s water quality and flood control. This program – now called “Rain to Recreation” – engages city employees and the community to practice water conservation to reduce pollution and improve efficiency of this valuable resource. One unique aspect of this program is the combination of water and recreation projects such as building parks and landscaping trails, like the city’s Black Hoof Park, in ways that incorporate green stormwater infrastructure and flood control, serving two purposes for the community.
Reduce, reuse, recycle the steps to success
A common theme illustrated across these examples is the use of asset management software to support a variety of green initiatives. Replicating their success includes the following three steps:
- Plan – Identify the “green” goals for your organization, including the departments, employees and workflows likely to be impacted. Consider potential roadblocks to the desired outcomes of your green initiatives. Gather and import existing data, including inventory and employees, into your EAM system. Use your EAM to set up standardized forms and workflows such as work requests and work orders.
- Go paperless – Going paperless is environmentally responsible in and of itself by saving paper. With EAM software, agencies also save time by enabling employees to access and input information from the field. Tracking data also helps staff to efficiently manage and save community resources such as water.
- Evaluate results – Once EAM software is implemented, you can view new records and data reports to evaluate the effects of your “green” plan on your resources and workflows. With new knowledge about your agency, a clear picture emerges of what adjustments or additional developments are needed for your plan(s) to succeed.
The rise in reliable green options has made “going green” much more cost effective and easy to implement. It is important to engage stakeholders – including field workers, administrators, customers and citizens – when considering your agency or community’s needs and goals. Deciding which green initiatives to implement can have a substantial, positive effect on these stakeholders. Choose green goals that make sense for your community, and use EAM software to optimize your efforts.