Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

Portland is leading the charge once again. In 2006, the Portland Office of Sustainable Development (now the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability) commissioned research with dozens of local small businesses. The research revealed that businesses will embrace resource efficiency and sustainability if those services are offered in an easy, one-stop approach.

Sustainability at Work is the name of their program, and they have established three levels of certification for businesses. The benefits of completing the requirements allow the business to share their achievements with staff and customers, and capitalize on their environmental success. Even if you don’t live in Portland, you can use the checklist to make your business more environmentally-friendly.

Here is the list of categories and questions from the Office assessment. There is also a Restaurant version. The more items you complete, the higher level of certification you achieve.

A webpage or bulletin board provides sustainability-related information for staff.INFORMATION & EDUCATION

  • An employee or green team leads sustainability efforts.
  • Sustainability best practices (including internal operations and commuting options) are communicated
  • to new employees.
  • Sustainability accomplishments are communicated externally.
  • Sustainability-related trainings or events are encouraged by management.
  • Sustainability plan and policy has been implemented to inform decision making.


  • Durable dishware is used.
  • Three major supplies have 30% or greater post-consumer recycled content.
  • Paper, metal, plastic and glass are recycled.
  • Electronic devices are donated for reuse or recycled.
  • Cleaning products are green certified.
  • Promotional materials have post-consumer recycled-content and display the percentage.
  • Paperless alternatives are used whenever possible.
  • Food and food-soiled papers are composted.
  • Measure and monitor recycling and composting.
  • Paper is printed on both sides.
  • Sustainable catering practices are used for events.
  • Office supplies are delivered in a way that minimizes packaging.
  • Electronic hand dryers are used in restrooms.
  • Fluorescent light bulbs are recycled.


  • Computer monitors and printers are set to power down after 20 minutes.
  • Non-emergency indoor lights are turned off each night.
  • Programmable thermostats are set back when space is typically unoccupied.
  • Computers are turned off each night.
  • Track and spot lighting use energy efficient light bulbs.
  • Appliances are ENERGY STAR® qualified.
  • Renewable energy is purchased for at least 50% of energy use.
  • Laptops are used at workstations rather than desktop computers.
  • Lighting is dimmed or turned off when adequate sunlight is available.
  • Measure and monitor energy use.
  • Office equipment is ENERGY STAR® qualified.
  • Building generates solar or wind power.
  • HVAC system is regularly tuned and maintained.
  • Linear fluorescent lighting has T8 or T5 bulbs with electronic ballasts.
  • Outside air- or water-side economizers are used for cooling.
  • Occupancy sensors are installed in common areas.
  • Janitorial services are scheduled during business hours.
  • Emergency EXIT signs use LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs.
  • Parking lot lighting is energy efficient.
  • Windows are energy-efficient.
  • Windows and doors are weather-sealed.
  • Water heaters are set no higher than 120 degrees.
  • Thermostat is set to 780 min for cooling and 680 max for heating when space is occupied.
  • Roof is a certified Cool Roof.


  • Maps and web-resources for biking, transit, carpooling and walking are provided for employees.
  • Transit pass program is available to all employees.
  • Bicycle tire repair kit and air pump are available for employees and visitors to use.
  • Teleconference and videoconference technologies are used.
  • Sustainable transit options are used for work-related trips.
  • Parking incentives are removed to discourage driving.
  • Carbon offsets are purchased for work-related transportation.
  • Bike-based services are used for local deliveries.
  • Transportation options are displayed on website for guests.
  • Carpool and vanpool connections are encouraged and practiced.
  • Compensation is offered to employees that bike, walk or carpool to work.
  • Emergency rides home are available to all employees.
  • Entry and participation in a commuter competition.
  • Measure and monitor ways employees commute.
  • Changing room, lockers, and showers are provided for bike and walk commuters.
  • Sheltered bike parking is provided for employees.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations are available for employees and customers.


  • Kitchen faucets have 1.5 gallons per minute aerators or less.
  • Restroom faucets have 0.5 gallons per minute aerators or less.
  • Tap water is consumed at workplace, rather than bottled water.
  • Measure and monitor water use.
  • Exterior hoses have auto-shutoff nozzles that don’t leak.
  • Water run-off from washing stations and waste containers flows into the sanitary sewer.
  • Urinals use 0.5 gallons per flush or less.
  • Tree canopy adjacent to paved areas and/or adjacent to the street supports stormwater management.
  • Landscaping is designed to use water efficiently.
  • On- site stormwater management facilities (ecoroof/bioswale) are a building feature.
  • Toilets are 1.6 gallons per flush or less.
  • Landscaping, trees and/or pervious pavement are used to replace paved surfaces.
  • Faucets have automated shut-off sensors.

Download the correct checklist and get started, to see where your company or clients are at today. The items that aren’t completed can be discussed and planned for the future. Let us know if you have used this or a similar checklist, and whether it was helpful or not.

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