Q&A with Our Director of Sustainability
Dominion officially launched its sustainability program in 2011. What key steps have you taken so far?
When sustainability was added to my portfolio of responsibilities, the first order of business was to create a governance structure. We formed an Executive Sustainability Council to oversee our program and also established a staff-level Sustainability Team. We agreed on four initial sustainability focus areas that aligned with our business priorities: investing in tomorrow’s energy technologies; reducing our environmental footprint; providing green opportunities for our customers and communities, and engaging our employees and other stakeholders.
We also joined the EPA’s Natural Gas Star program, the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Line USA program, and the Electric Power Research Institute’s Sustainability Interest Group. Those and other partnerships will allow us to share information and best practices. And we set preliminary goals against which to measure performance – including one to transition all of our commercial fleet to hybrid vehicles as appropriate. It was an exciting and busy year, to say the least.
How are you engaging employees in the company’s sustainability efforts?
Employee engagement has been a major emphasis for us. As I said, we created an Employee Sustainability Team with representation from all the company’s business units and regions. We also developed a Sustainability Speaker Series to bring in outside experts to talk to the workforce and management about different aspects of sustainability. To facilitate communications, we also created a sustainability mailbox, firstname.lastname@example.org, for employees and external stakeholders to provide opportunities for feedback and dialogue.
We’re getting results, too. It’s great to see the way ideas bubble up from the workforce. For example, two of our employees suggested that we create stickers to place near light switches in our conference rooms to remind employees to “Turn off the lights to conserve energy” when the rooms were not in use. We adopted their idea and produced and distributed the stickers earlier this year.
What are some of your sustainability goals or priorities going forward?
We have a number of initiatives underway this year. One focus area in 2012 will be on documenting energy usage at Dominion facilities. We will conduct energy audits of company buildings, including our corporate headquarters complex. We also have an employee team analyzing our travel policy with a view toward making cost-effective, sustainable travel decisions, including increased use of teleconferencing, video-conferencing and renting alternative-fuel vehicles where possible. We’re evaluating a program to encourage employees in certain areas to bike to work instead of driving their cars. These are just a few of the areas we’re assessing for sustainability improvements. It’s exciting to see the growing level of employee interest and involvement as we move forward.