Green Teams


People are becoming more and more interested in 'greening' their home, workplace and life. Zero Waste Palo Alto has made a concerted effort since 2007 to foster the creation of networks to help the community with this effort.

Our initial efforts have been in Palo Alto schools. Zero Waste also spearheaded the creation of the City’s own organizational green team.


Quick Links

""What is a Green Team?
""Why have a Green Team?
""Green Team Projects
""Palo Alto School Green Teams
""Palo Alto Neighborhood Green Teams
""Creating a Green Team
""Related Links



What is a Green Team?


Green teams are groups of people that get together to help identify and implement specific environmentally friendly initiatives at their business, school, organization, neighborhood, etc. Team members do not operate in a strict hierarchy or in functional silos; they are, in a sense, involved as general citizens of the organization. Green teams are supportive to members, not competitive or political. Team members have a common purpose and a sense of empowerment to jointly create and deploy innovations that will improve the environmental performance of the organization and the community at large.

Corporate Green Teams: A New Social Trend at Work? A Conference Report and Research Summary by Don Bray, AltaTerra Research, 16 June 2008

A Green Team is:

  • Multi-stakeholder (participants from the various sectors of the community/organization)
  • Focused on internal operations (work on projects within their community/organization)
  • Project-oriented
  • A learning community (i.e., knowledge sharing, creation and innovation)

The primary functions of the team are to provide a forum for employees interested in environmental protection to:

  • Capture ideas that will improve the organization's environmental performance
  • Research and prioritize project ideas
  • Present chosen projects to upper management
  • Implement projects approved by upper management

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Why have a Green Team?


The primary role of a green team is to identify and implement projects that help the organization operate in a more environmentally sustainable fashion, thereby helping the organization meet its environmental mandates and goals. Due to their multi-stakeholder membership, green teams can also help integrate environmental considerations across an organization’s functions.

Organization Functions

Green teams can help an organization improve its risk management while realizing operational efficiencies and cost savings. They foster cross-functional collaboration and develop a community of learning and innovation.


A side effect of a green team is its beneficial impact on employees. Green teams engage employees in an activity that aligns with their personal values and interests. They empower employees by connecting them with their workplace and giving them the opportunity to make a difference. This leads to increased job satisfaction and performance, attracts talent and reduces turnover. Additionally, green teams build social capital. As employees work with and get to know a variety of other employees in different departments and divisions, it builds their understanding of the different concerns each department has and puts human faces on previously unknown groups.

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Green Team Projects

Green team projects can vary from small to large and limited-term to on-going. The key to green team projects are that they are conceived by the members and at least one member has energy around the project to see to its implementation. Projects are only limited by the team’s imagination and energy.

List of ideas for green team projects:

Energy and water consumption

  • Adjust heat and A/C temperatures
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs
  • Consider purchasing laptops instead of desktop computers; laptops use significantly less energy
  • Encourage employees to turn off their computer, monitors and power strips when they leave the office at night
  • Install motion sensors in common areas (conference rooms, bathrooms, kitchens) and organize your office space to make the most of natural light
  • Invest in renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, fuel cell)
  • Install or adjust fixtures (sinks, toilets, showers, etc.) to be low flow

Waste reduction and recycling

  • Provide recycling bins at desks and in common areas for easy access
  • Work with IT to change printing defaults to duplex printing
  • Sponsor a funky mug competition to encourage use of reusable dishware
  • Host an e-waste drive

Commute and Transportation

  • Kick off a commuter challenge that rewards alternative commute methods
  • Provide subsidies for public transportation
  • Start a carpool network
  • Offer preferred parking for fuel efficient vehicles and carpoolers
  • Install videoconferencing equipment and encourage telecommuting
  • Host Bike to Work Day/Week events


  • Compost food scraps
  • Start a community garden
  • Invest in durable tableware or compostable products
  • Source food locally


  • Choose native vegetation that requires less water, fertilizers and pesticides
  • Purchase rain barrels
  • Install a smart watering system

Employee education

  • Launch a poster campaign
  • Host a green vendor fair or speaker series
  • Offer green giveaways

Volunteerism and charitable giving

  • Clean up a local park or beach
  • Host a tree planting event

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Palo Alto School Green Teams

Palo Alto school green teams are supported by the Palo Alto Sustainable Schools Committee. The following schools currently have functioning green teams:

  • Addison
  • Barron Park
  • Bowman International
  • Castilleja
  • Duveneck
  • El Carmelo
  • Escondido
  • Fair Meadow
  • Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School
  • Gunn
  • Hoover
  • J.L.S
  • Jordan
  • Juana Briones
  • Lucille M. Nixon
  • Ohlone
  • Palo Verde
  • Palo Alto High School
  • Terman
  • Walter Hays

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Palo Alto Neighborhood Green Teams

There are currently two community-based, neighborhood green teams in Palo Alto:
  • Barron Park
  • College Terrace
These teams were created by the neighborhoods in connection with the Community Environmental Action Partnership (CEAP). Please contact us if you would like more information about these teams or if you would like to form a green team in your neighborhood.
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Creating a Green Team

Careful planning and division of labor are prerequisites for the success of a green team. It is critical to recruit interested stakeholders, develop a concise vision for the team’s efforts and provide support for the team’s initiatives.

The following guidelines are those used by the City of Palo Alto for the creation of school green teams.

  • Present the green team strategy at a staff meeting and discuss the program.
  • Recruit students, staff, and community members and create a preliminary green team to coordinate sustainability efforts.
  • Hold an initial meeting with all stakeholders to identify wasteful waste practices as a means of energizing participants and allowing them to share their ideas. Provide an outlet for people to get involved right away.
  • At the second meeting, envision a sustainable school and set clear goals based on that vision.
  • At the third meeting, ensure the sustainability of the efforts by discussing ways to maintain legacy (calendar, roster, publicity, recruitment, etc).
  • Publicize efforts to the greater school community and recruit any unfilled positions on the green team.
  • Develop a list of possible action steps, determine the priority and timing of each, and assign a committee member to serve as lead and support on projects.
  • Before beginning any educational campaigns, develop competency in behavioral change strategies.
  • Wherever possible, quantify savings and publicize successes, both on campus and via the media.
  • Provide incentives and recognition for people who are involved in your efforts.

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Related Links

Bring Your Green Team to Work with ENERGY STAR - Create a Green Team

Growing Corporate Green Teams: Bringing Renewed Purpose to the Workplace

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