How Do I Become a Sustainability Officer?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 June 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are three items required to become a sustainability officer: post-secondary training, related work experience, and communication skills. A sustainability officer is someone who is responsible for coordination, management, and administration of the organization's environmental programs. This can include initiatives such as reducing the lighting level and room thermostat levels in the winter, encouraging paper recycling, and reducing paper processes.

Sustainability refers to the need to ensure that the plant is able to replenish itself over time. In common usage, this applies to the need to reduce the usage of non-renewable resources and better management of existing resources. The term was original used in ecology to describe the diversity and productivity of natural biological systems. It is now used almost exclusively in relation to the environmental protection movement.

People who want to become a sustainability officer are typically personally interested in environmental projects, enjoy working in teams, and gain personal satisfaction from having a positive influence on the broader community. This field is relatively young, and although it was quickly accepted in the North American corporate culture as an important role, actual adoption of sustainable strategies has been slower. While there was an initial flurry of sustainability officers at senior management levels in the early 2000s, the impact of this position has been harder to measure.

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The first requirement to become a sustainability officer is to complete a post-secondary education program. This is can be either a university degree in environmental studies or a diploma from a community or career college in sustainability. Career advancement in this field can be achieved through either further education or a solid work experience history. As a young discipline, dedication to continuing education is very important. The most successful sustainability offices have developed a strong network of other sustainability professionals, and share success and failures to help improve the process.

Related work experience includes volunteering in an environmental agency or group, working on collaborative projects, and other team-based work experiences. Community leadership skills can be obtained through roles as a camp counselor, team leader, or program instructor. These experiences do not need to be associated with an environmental movement, as leadership skills are extremely transferable.

One of the most important skills required to become a sustainability officer is communication. As a result, experience as a communications officer, writing newsletters, interviewing high-profile people, and organizing an information campaign are all very valuable. Review your presentation and oral communication skills to find the most effective way to spread the message of sustainability.

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anon226370
Post 2

I did training through GoEco Certified, and it was a great program for pretty good price.

mchlrchmnd
Post 1

If going back to college is out of the question, you will find that the Green Business League offers a tremendous online training program for certified sustainability officers. This is not an impossible task, but it does take a wide knowledge base and a pattern for moving a company into greater environmental compliance.

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