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How green is your training?


With increasing emphasis on ensuring our carbon footprint is minimal, we look at ways in which trainers can green-up their training.

Sustainability is certainly a buzz word being bandied about at the moment, but the fact remains that whatever type of business you are in, the need to make sure you are keeping your emissions low and your awareness of environmental issues high has never been greater. Here are some ways to help you start thinking 'green'.

Travelling green

While you might not imagine training to be a big energy guzzler, there are certainly some improvements to be made. For a start, most trainers have to travel and by choosing eco-friendly travel options for trainers and attendees will make the greatest difference to the carbon emissions of a training company or L&D department. This could involve careful selection of your training venue, so opting for a city centre venue means delegates can use public transport to get there.

Where public transport really isn’t an option, setting up a car share scheme can be a good idea, the take-up can be surprisingly positive, and this type of green travel is certainly seen as a carbon-friendly plus from the organisation sending the delegates too.

Go local

When it comes to in-house training, keeping it local is a no-brainer. This was they can use public transport to get to and from the venue, keeping costs down, and notch up a few green points to boot.

Virtual meetings can also be a good way to slash travel costs and remain green and with an increase in the number of companies using tools like webinars to deliver training to geographically dispersed employees, people are getting used to communicating and learning virtually.

Waste not want not

Trainers must also take responsibility for the amount of waste they produce through the course of their work, whether that is cutting back on the amount of paper handouts they use. This could simply mean not printing off items for each attendee but emailing them after the session or uploading them to company intranet or even using a simple online tool like Google Documents.

Elearning: the green option?

It cuts down on paper but costs more in electricity, so is elearning greener than other forms of training? With companies like SkillSoft running green training sessions to show how to make elearning an “environmentally friendly way to train staff” it seems that eco training is becoming more popular.

Our green community

Here are just some of the great eco-friendly things that the TZ community does…

Save the planet

“Years ago I bought some 3m dry-wipe pads - use them like flip-charts - but wipe them off and re-use them when I’ve finished - plain on one side feint blue squares on the others - excellent!” - Mike Morrison

Environmentalism begins at home

“A client liked the courses I'd designed and delivered to them so much that they wanted me to do it in Germany, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. I suggested that they delivered my course using local trainers (including some from their own company) I ran a TTT in London for their chosen folk and three years later it is still working.”

“I also laminate all the exercise instructions and re-use them. I set up the e-workbook so that all the exercises to be completed and brought to the workshop are co-located at the back so the delegates can print four pages of exercises rather than 66 pages of workbook.” - Rus

Green training

1. Design training to be understood and actionable after one sitting therefore reducing or removing the need for repeat or top-up training.
This will reduce the mileage, accommodation, food and other resources used by people repeating training due to poor initial design / delivery.
2. Design and provide good quality self development techniques and practices for ongoing application of learning to maximise retention.
3. Use an appropriate range of solutions rather than always putting training forwards. In Rummler’s model of typical corporate causes of performance issues only one out of 28 causes is addressed by training as the best initial option! Most of the other solutions are much faster, likely to be more effective and used less resource.
4. Re-cycle your materials. This applies to physical materials such as using both sides of flipcharts (unless confidential info etc.)
It also applies to using forums like TZ to maximise effective solutions and minimise the time others need to spend on their own energy hungry computers

Going green

"We went carbon neutral last June - difficult in training with so many car journeys, so we had to offset a certain amount. However one of the actions we took was to send as much mail as possible electronically - invoices, brochures, agenda, proposals etc (this we have calculated as saving of £1500 a year on materials and time. A worthwhile saving for a small company!) We also recycle 95% of all our waste, print double sided, use scrap paper in our office. We take public transport as much as possible and managed to cut 1000 miles a month with the two directors sharing a 1000cc Daihatsu rather than drive a large car.
We also publicise what others can do - on each email there is a changing green tip, on all brochures and our website we have pages of green tips. And we are training environmental groups for free on presentation skills to help them present their cases more effectively.
This last point is one I would like to see more trainers take up as, by ourself, we can only do a little but by training up others to take the messaage further we can be more influential.
I am happy to speak to anyone who wants to speak about all that we have done." - Cameron Scott


How can we cut down on use of electricity to power and plastic to manufacture PCs/printers/VDU's etc? we all seem to be advocating using emails etc. but this simply causes the person at the other end to sit on a PC (and perhaps not turn it off) using electricity and maybe buying more PC's/peripherals.
Its not all about paper usage what about PC green-ness and sustainability? Does anyone know of any studies on this?

Green Computing Charter

I'd like to mention the Green Computing Charter, launched by Computing newspaper. It aims to address the poor environmental record of the IT industry and the site provides information which addresses some ofthe issues raised here. - pnich

Go green...go virtual!

Speaking with my learning technologies hat on, one of my former clients - a global company - asked for 15 workshops as part of their learning and development provision. BUT...well aware of the impact of flying staff around the globe - and in business class too - they also stipulated that they would also need totally virtual versions of each workshop, delivered via a series of webinars. This would require the same content to be delivered by the same trainers, but re-engineered for this environment, so that none of the interactivity or learning impact was lost. The re-engineering work would amount to a sizable number of days of extra development, but the cost of this was more than swallowed up by the cost and environmental impact reduction that resulted.

Do you have any handy green tips to add? Do let us know by commenting on this feature.

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