How Sustainability Practitioners can set up in the wake of Harvey

Hurricane Harvey, Houston, Texas, Sustainability Practitioners

Sustainability practitioners have an enormous amount of skill in areas not normally thought of as “sustainability” (see CSE’s blog on Health, Safety and Environment). In the wake of a natural disaster, recovery will require a systems approach, inherent to the training sustainability practitioners receive and the process they implement every day.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Energy Industry will be calling for all hands-on deck both in recovery, risk assessment and emergency management.  A third of the US oil refinery capacity was shut down for days.  Long-term environmental fall out could lead to increased reliance on renewable energy or even electric vehicles.  CSE has helped energy companies from Anadarko, to Hydro One, NRG to Talisman train leaders to manage sustainability concerns.

Sustainability practitioners trained in Facilities Management will spend time in the coming months reviewing preparedness plans, recovery plans and environmental impact of flooding, leaks, and mitigation.  The Construction industry will face similar assessments as they develop more resilient construction methods and facilitate clean up.  CSE has helped sustainability practitioners from Caterpillar, Sodexo, ABM and even Houston’s airport prepare for these challenges.

Emergency planning is going to be a hot topic.  Those who are more civic oriented than corporate will find plenty of roles in city, state and national preparedness plans.  In the light of poor press coverage of the Lakewood Church in Houston led by Pastor Joel Osteen, we know that emergency preparedness goes well beyond the Red Cross or FEMA.  Might a sustainability practitioner on staff have helped the church put in place an emergency plan and team that considered basement flooding, volunteer staffing, coordinating with the city’s emergency management and parishioner needs?  Systems thinking and forward vision is critical.

We look at ESG factors: environment – leaks, contaminants; Social – disruption to employees and clients; Governance – setting goals for the next crisis, implementing risk assessment and mitigation, both physical and financial (even emotional).

From 1987 to 2017, storms and other natural disasters, not counting Harvey, have cost the US $1.15 Trillion, $562.8B from hurricanes and another $192.7B from severe storms.  Hurricane Sandy led to total losses of $68.4 billion only $29.2 billion of which were insured.

Whether you are an engineer, facilities manager or sustainability director, sustainability practitioners are here to meet the needs of the current crisis and prepare for the future.  For a good example, check out Eco-Business’ new whitepaper taking a critical look at how we can better prepare for increased floods.

Let’s step up and be our best selves, bring our strongest skills and our umbrella way of thinking to deal with Mother Nature’s challenges.  CSE trainings in Toronto, Oct. 26-27, and San Diego, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, provide training now for the concerns of tomorrow.

 

 

 

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