Who Is the Chief Green Officer?

Lora Bentley

In the five-plus years since Sarbanes-Oxley was enacted, the chief compliance officer -- or someone like her -- has risen in visibility and influence. The idea of compliance for compliance's sake is giving way to compliance as competitive advantage.


A similar paradigm shift is occuring today around corporate environmental responsibility, according to AMR Research VP John Davies. As a result, a new member of the executive suite is beginning to make appearances: the chief green officer. In GreenerComputing News, Davies writes:

Organizationally, the chief green officer oversees both internal and external opportunities. This translates to having direct and indirect reports that oversee environmental health and safety, energy, procurement, and regulatory affairs. In addition to these organizations, the chief green officer in many cases is also directly or indirectly responsible for environmental stewardship, corporate communications, strategic partnerships, and product innovation.


While the span of influence for the chief green officer is broad, corporate staff is kept lean. Rather than create a green bureaucracy, this person leads by taking a program management office approach. The most important task for the chief green officer is to work with the management team to set the overall corporate strategy.

He goes on to explain that the big items on the CGO's agenda are: 1) decreasing the company's environmental footprint -- perhaps by investing in "efficiency and conservation;" 2) engaging employees, investors, suppliers and other partners in the green effort; and 3) finding new goods and services the company can offer in the green marketplace.

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Aug 23, 2007 1:28 AM Osei Kufuor Osei Kufuor  says:
There is no need to create a new chief green officer. If an enterprise practices the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), the BSC value chain model already takes care of the processes to achieve a green enterprise. Reply
Aug 23, 2007 2:18 AM Tina Marie Thomas Tina Marie Thomas  says:
While it may not be necessary to have a CGO, when an organization is starting its efforts to become green - this position helps to spread the word and set the examples. Announcing a CGO is a great idea to help get everyone on board. This is especially true if an organization has someone who volunteers to champion the going "green" cause. Reply
Aug 23, 2007 2:31 AM Javier Barrios Javier Barrios  says:
I think it is a flawed assessment by Osei about the BSC. You will need a Chief Green Officer to run the 'green' objectives in the BSC for the organization. BSC does not gaurantee the Green standards or optimal standards for that matter. If a large corporation is interested in truly helping the environment having a Chief Green Officer states that a company is truly committed to seeing a successful implementation of its green initiatives. Reply
Aug 23, 2007 5:25 AM Jeff Wells Jeff Wells  says:
The idea of a Chief Green Officer is redundant, excessive even, pandering to the latest fashions. The Chief Financial Officer is already the Chief Green One since he or she is concerned with savings. Save power, save waste, save expenses and save the planet as a pleasant side effect. Reply
Aug 23, 2007 7:56 AM Ashley Ashley  says:
Hi,I think the new role is a great opportunity for corporations to participate in the informed global natural environment debate. Reply
Aug 23, 2007 8:19 AM Derek Maggs Derek Maggs  says:
This is a positive move to provide focus for the green issue. Rarely, if ever, does the idea for new products come from the CFO. Rarely do the ideas for savings (green or otherwise) come from the customer facing sales or marketing folk. As for operational collaboration and the systems needed to support such grand moves will not spring up without focus. Reply
Aug 23, 2007 11:01 AM amit porwal amit porwal  says:
i believe this is a wonderful idea as it distributes the workload on a cfo and the top notch but what i feel is that cgo work should be limited only to environmental issues.thanks and regards. Reply
Aug 23, 2007 11:08 AM Scott H. Harman Scott H. Harman  says:
As an opinion, we want to compartmentalize the question. It's like asking, 'who is responsible for the bottom line?' The answer is: Everyone. Notwithstanding, let the CEO, the COO, the CIO, the CFO...let them all carry the honor and distinction of sharing the role of CGO. Have every question of investment, strategy..every operational condition...meet an acid test for sustainability.Real change will come in the enterprise. People, not programs, will add to their influence to enable a sustainable environment. Reply
Aug 24, 2007 1:29 AM Phil Nugent Phil Nugent  says:
CGO seems overkill to me. Going "Green" is plain good business. Reduced environmental footprint means reducing inputs (power, water etc) and hence reduced costs. Pollution and landfill are simply resources (ie. money) going to waste. To my mind, a good CEO is also a good CGO. Reply
Aug 24, 2007 3:44 AM Bill Masters Bill Masters  says:
How many CEO's, CFO's or even CTO's do think are familiar with most of the "Green" programs that are out there. There are programs that focus on power savings and carbon credits that can be easily deployed across their enterprise that focus on technology. In most cases these solutions yield double digit savings on power consumption and cooling efficiencies. Additionally, many of these programs are designed to assist your company with paying for "Green" retrofits for things like HVAC, lighting, recycling, power supplies, generators, refrigeration programs and much more. I think a CGO is a necessity and an excellent idea. Reply
Sep 5, 2007 11:16 AM Barbara Scott Barbara Scott  says:
I agree that the role could add value to organizations that have failed to develop holistic business practices that incorporate the idea of green into everyday operations. My thoughts on the role of CGO are on my blog: http://blog.redemtech.com/scott.html Reply
Jul 19, 2010 11:01 AM Green Supply Chain Management Green Supply Chain Management  says: in response to Barbara Scott

A CGO is needed since most other executives are more concerned with their particular responsibility.  Having a CGO in a company will remind everyone that going green is better for everyone and may actually save money in the long run with future gov't mandates.

Learn how to manage the Green Supply chain


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