Sustainable cities and communities create a more sustainable and equitable world. In the workplace, there are many ways that organisations can contribute to the development of sustainable cities and communities, both in their operations and in their broader impacts. This topic aims to provide knowledge and understanding of how organisations can promote sustainable cities and communities in the workplace and the actions that can be taken to embed this focus in their practices.
Sustainable cities and communities
In a working environment, a sustainable city is a city that is designed and managed in a way that supports the well-being of its inhabitants and the environment. This can include efficient use of natural resources, clean transportation options, and green spaces. A community in a working environment refers to a group of people who share common interests, goals, or values and interact with each other in a particular geographic location.
Sustainable cities are designed to balance economic, social, and environmental priorities. The goal is to create an economically prosperous, environmentally responsible, and socially inclusive city. To achieve this, cities must adopt a holistic and integrated approach to planning and development.
One key aspect of sustainable cities is energy efficiency. This means reducing energy consumption through the use of energy-efficient technologies and practices. For example, buildings can be designed to maximise natural light and ventilation, reducing the need for artificial lighting and heating.
Another important aspect is using renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and hydropower. This helps to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and dependence on non-renewable energy sources.
Sustainable transport systems are also crucial in promoting sustainable cities. This includes developing alternative modes of transportation, such as public transport, cycling, and walking, and reducing the number of cars on the road.
Waste management is another important factor in promoting sustainable cities. This includes reducing waste through efficient waste management practices and recycling.
Sustainable cities must promote social and economic inclusion. This means ensuring that all residents have access to opportunities and services, regardless of their background or socio-economic status.
By implementing these strategies and practices, a city can become more sustainable and promote the long-term health and well-being of its residents and the environment.
A community within a working environment refers to the group of individuals who are associated with a particular organisation or workplace. This group is composed of employees, managers, and other stakeholders who are involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. These stakeholders may include contractors, suppliers, and customers who interact with the employees and the organisation.
Creating a strong sense of community within a workplace is important as it helps to foster a positive and supportive work environment. When individuals feel valued and connected to their coworkers, they are more likely to collaborate effectively, work productively, and be satisfied with their job. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, reduced staff turnover, and improved overall performance of the organisation.
A sense of community can be fostered through various initiatives and activities, such as team-building events, social activities, and open communication. By promoting a strong sense of community, organisations can create a supportive and inclusive work environment that benefits both the employees and the organisation as a whole
Several factors can reduce the achievement of sustainable cities and communities. Some of the key negative impacts include:
- Urban sprawl: Rapid and uncontrolled urban expansion can pressure natural resources, such as land and water, resulting in loss of green space, degradation of ecosystems, and increased air and water pollution.
- Poor transportation systems: Inefficient transportation systems can contribute to air pollution, congestion, and increased carbon emissions. This can also lead to increased travel times and decreased access to essential services for people who live in the suburbs or outlying areas of the city.
- Energy inefficiency: Using fossil fuels, inefficient heating and cooling systems, and poorly designed buildings can increase energy use and carbon emissions.
- Waste management: Poor waste management practices, such as open dumping, can result in environmental degradation and health problems for local communities.
- Inequality: A lack of access to basic services, such as clean water, healthcare, and education, can lead to social and economic inequality. This can result in a widening divide between rich and poor, reducing the community’s overall sustainability.
- Short-term thinking: Decisions driven by short-term financial considerations rather than long-term sustainability goals can negatively impact the environment and the well-being of local communities.
Poor waste management
Poor waste management can have several negative impacts on an organisation. For example, it can lead to increased disposal costs and potential fines if the organisation is not properly disposing of its waste. It can also have negative environmental impacts, such as contributing to pollution and litter and potentially damaging natural habitats. Poor waste management can also negatively impact the health and safety of employees and customers, as it can create hazards and contribute to poor air and water quality.
Inequality in employment opportunities
Inequality for employment opportunities can negatively impact an organisation in several ways. For example, if certain groups or individuals are consistently excluded from employment opportunities due to discrimination or bias, it can create an imbalanced and unfair workplace culture. This can lead to low morale and engagement among employees, as well as potentially undermining the organisation’s reputation and ability to attract top talent. Additionally, if certain groups are consistently underrepresented or excluded from employment, it can contribute to wider societal inequalities and hinder the organisation’s ability to reflect and serve the communities it operates in accurately.
In Birmingham, a leading games development business, PlanetPlay, recognised the importance of promoting sustainability in their city and the local community. As a company, they were committed to not just creating exciting and innovative games but also to have a positive impact on the environment and the community.
PlanetPlay decided to take a multi-faceted approach to promote sustainability. They began by implementing environmentally friendly practices within their office. This included reducing paper usage by switching to digital file storage and communication and installing energy-efficient lighting and appliances. They also started a recycling programme for their office waste and encouraged employees to use environmentally friendly modes of transport, such as bikes or public transport, to commute to work.
The company also decided to give back to the community by partnering with local organisations to help with environmental clean-up efforts and promoting sustainability education through their games. For example, they partnered with a local park to host a game-themed event where participants could learn about sustainable practices while having fun playing games. They also created a new game that taught players about sustainable living, such as reducing waste and conserving energy.
As a result of their efforts, PlanetPlay saw a positive impact on the environment and community and improved employee morale and engagement. Employees felt proud to work for a company that was making a positive impact, and many became more environmentally conscious in their personal lives as well. The company’s efforts also helped to increase its reputation as a socially responsible business, attracting new customers and talent to the company.
Overall, PlanetPlay’s commitment to promoting sustainability in their city and local community demonstrated that companies can make a positive impact while also achieving their business goals.
Promoting Sustainable Cities and Communities
To achieve the targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, businesses can promote sustainable cities and communities in the workplace by incorporating the following sustainable human behaviours:
- Encouraging green transport: Encouraging employees to use public transport, carpool, or bike to work can reduce the impact of transport on the environment.
- Implementing waste reduction: By reducing, reusing and recycling materials, businesses can reduce the amount of waste produced and promote sustainability. This can be done through a waste management programme, providing recycling bins, and promoting composting.
- Encouraging energy efficiency: Encouraging energy efficiency in the workplace through using energy-efficient light bulbs, unplugging electronics when not in use, and reducing air conditioning use can help reduce energy consumption.
- Promoting green spaces: Incorporating green spaces such as indoor plants, roof gardens, and outdoor green spaces can help improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions and provide a healthier work environment.
- Developing sustainable procurement policies: Procuring products and services from suppliers with sustainable practices can reduce the impact of production and consumption on the environment.
By implementing these behaviours and promoting sustainable practices, businesses can help achieve the goal of promoting sustainable cities and communities in the workplace and contribute to the achievement of SDG 11.