Arriving at the Prologis office buildings out by Denver International Airport can be intimidating; the two giant buildings loom over their surroundings. But Jennifer Leitsch’s welcoming personality immediately puts her visitors at ease. She, as the Corporate Responsibility Manager, quickly begins sharing about a few different unique things that Prologis is doing within the realm of sustainability, including the large renewable energy initiative (learn more about that here). Obviously proud of what the company has accomplished, Jennifer settles into discussing an employee program called CR Champions.
The Corporate Responsibility Champion initiative was the brainchild of Jennifer’s predecessor, Sarah Martinez, and Jennifer is happy to carry on the program into the future. In 2008, Prologis had firmly put a stake in the ground as a green building company, using LEED certified buildings as the cornerstone of their business. But there was a disconnect between this outward sustainability focus and the internal corporate operations. This is where the CR Champions came into play.
CR Champions are Prologis employees who volunteer for the position. Some offices have 5 or 6, but the goal is for every office worldwide to have at least one CR Champion. The employee’s role is to educate their coworkers, promote sustainability measures, and implement initiatives in their local office. CR Champions are strictly volunteers and do not get any additional compensation for their extra work.
To start off the program, the employee volunteers were asked to brainstorm ideas for making their offices more environmentally friendly. These ideas were sorted and compiled into an interactive PDF called The Green Path. This document is available to all employees and makes it easy for CR Champions to pick an initiative to pursue within their local office. The idea is that no matter where you are on the path to being “greener,” there is always something more you can do.
In the first year of program, CR Champions were asked to pick just one initiative from The Green Path to implement. This could be as simple as changing all the light bulbs in the office to CFLs or as involved as switching to low-flow toilets throughout the building. During this year, data collection was not a priority, something that Jennifer hopes to change in the future. However, through anecdotal data collected through quarterly conference calls, the project was deemed a success. So they upped the ante for the second year and champions were asked to look at three initiatives to implement in their office.
One of the benefits of having CR Champions in each office is that it has opened up unique lines of communication between satellite offices and Prologis headquarters. Additionally, Prologis does not have a central procurement function, so each office has their own system of making decisions. By discussing and sharing resources and ideas between offices, each office can work better to find more environmentally friendly procurement options.
Understandably, the recent merger of ProLogis with AMB has disrupted life as usual within the corporate offices. As things are settling into a new normal, Jennifer is working to get CR Champions signed up from the new offices created from the merger. She hopes that soon the lines of communication will be established between all the new and old CR Champions to build a bigger and better CR network for the future of the company.
Additionally, the initiatives are shifting from a singularly green focus to adding a social component. Prologis employees are allowed 4 paid days off to volunteer. Two of those days are reserved for company sponsored activities and the other two are for the employee to volunteer with an organization of their own interest. The CR Champions will be the point people in each office to help organize group volunteering and answer any questions people might have about how they can spend these volunteer days.
By moving forward with the CR Champions program, Prologis will be able to differentiate itself not only in the marketplace with customers, but also in the local communities surrounding its many office locations around the world. Additionally, employees feel more engaged with the values of the company when they see them lived out in their own workspace.
Written by Kristin Friedery, CORE Intern