peter doneganIn conversation with a friend of mine this week, I got talking about the multi-national companies and the not so international, in Ireland.

Let me clarify that. It was not a doom and gloom usual type of ‘Irish televison does more poltical type programmes than it does sport type of natter‘.

To the point. What we were chatting about was the fact that being green is seen as a good thing. If nothing else, from a PR/ public relations perspective.

To an extent, it seems the huge card-board cheque that was held for the usual photo shoot has been replaced. And let’s be vaguely honest about it, within the next week there will be a small plethora of the not unusual type of photographs of some gentlemen in a shirt and tie, laptop in one hand, a unicycle in the other with possibly a lovely lady or two somewhere in the photo frame. All of them smiling and jumping for joy about [random example] reducing the energy they may consume or the all new brand spanking green gadget that will save the planet.

Over coffee we queried and quizzed and pondered

I wonder just how green are these companies, really ?

The imaginary company in my head is based in an industrial – the name says it all – estate, or in Dublin City Centre. It doesn’t really matter. We came up the suggestion that Mr Tokoyama, my imaginary friend who likes to invest in Green Irish Businesses, takes a trip to The Emerald Isle to see into just what and where his money will go.

Que the man in the illuminous yellow security jacket and blue cap stands out of the steel structured security box and opens the barrier to the large concrete expanse of a car-park. The tall building entrance is there to greet and it surrounded by a landscape that was most likely designed pre the [potentially non] Irish company deciding that logistically or fiscally this would be a fine building for them.

As we cross checked and dissected water dispensers and light bulbs, heating systems and ventilation units all the way down to the alternates of opening a window as versus air cooling systems, we spoke about the re-use of envelopes and writing cheques and driving into work. And as the varying sub headings poured off the top of my pencil, all the while the words industrial and estate sat as the header in one column as people and happy sat in the other. The words alone, simply do not sit well together.

We spoke about the alternate. The change. The mind set.

We proposed that our imaginary company stay in the industrial estate. That bit is important. But we proposed that the landscape be handed over to the employees.

What I suggested was that the grounds and surrounds be turned to allotments. This not only saves the company money on grounds maintenance and grass cutting, but it gives the people who work there a reason to stay after work if nothing else but to manage their greens. Not only this, but now picture Mr Tokoyama coming up the driveway.

We pictured the security inspector stand beside his hut now complete with a living green roof. The water run off from the office roof is now managed into water butts which would be used for irrigating the allotment spaces and once per month the excess vegetables and fruit would be sold at a lunch time staff only farmers type market that would be held in the grounds of the now extremely interesting landscape.

There is of course the point were if the car park was being resurfaced that it could be done in grass that cars can drive across – but this was in our long term plan, for now at least. This of course before we get to the electric car charge points and the in-house mini-version of the Dublin Bike Scheme.

Back to it – where grass remains mulching mowers would be specified and used causing now no need at all for the charge of green waste and reducing the amount of diesel and petrol. And where necessary composting areas now existed that could and would be filled with green waste, shredded paper and lunch time apple butts all ready to be re-used in the growing gardens.

The chat steered sideways with workplace conversation now about garden advice. The dilemma that one may face when they decided to take their holidays and to whom and what instructions would be left to look after ones plot.

Solar panels for autumn lighting, wind turbines to make a cuppa on a winters evening and the annual inter departmental mammoth pumpkin and onion growing competition. Wildlife and biodiversity walks and talks in an industrial estate ?? Garden classes held in the grounds, the official opening, donating the food for a local fundraiser – the press and the public relations would quite simply be endless.

If nothing else my good friend did hollar

Can you imagine that for a staff newsletter….?

Internationally, should you be able to imagine that on a company blog, the words admirable and exemplary immediately come to mind. Personally, I think the response would be phenomenol and rightly so.

Being perceived as being green is one thing. Being really green it seems is another. I’d like to meet the CEO who makes that call.

Contact Peter Donegan

The Real Green Irish Company, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 26th September