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C3 Ecological behaviour of employees

A) Goal of the indicator

The goal of any Common-Good oriented company is to drive ecological awareness or make ecological behaviour possible, among other things by creating basic conditions for doing so, finding models, tendering projects, etc. Active measures are taken to address essential ecological aspects, and entrepreneurial culture and internal processes contribute to actual implementation.

B) Prompt questions

Nutrition during working time

  • What value do employees place on organic-regional food at the workplace and what is the actual situation here?
  • What does the canteen/kitchen (if there is one) provide in this respect (cooking facilities)/delivery (catering straight from the farm, for ex.)?


Home-to-work mobility

  • Which means of transportation do employees use to get to work?
  • Which options do employees have for getting to work in an environmentally friendly way?
  • Which incentives does the company offer for more environmentally friendly mobility behaviour?


Organizational culture, awareness-raising and in-house processes

  • What role do ecological aspects play in advanced training offers?
  • Which awareness-raising measures are taken within this framework?
  • Which strategy does the company pursue in regard to the ecological behaviour of its employees?


C)     Evaluation table


First Steps
(1–10 %)

(11–30 %)

(31–60 %)

61–100 %)

Nutrition at the workplace




Initial approaches towards promotion of sustainable nutrition patterns (for ex. vegetarian options or special deals in biological restaurants)

Clear affirmation of sustainable eating habits (clearly reduced consumption of animal products in the works canteen)

Nutrition predominantly vegetarian / vegan


+ Foods predominantly local, seasonal and biologically certified


+ Meat from local pasture grazing

Nutrition largely vegetarian / vegan


+ Foods predominantly local, seasonal, biologically certified; if possible from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)


+ meat from local pasture grazing

Home-to-work mobility




Initial efforts towards sustainable mobility policy (for ex. financial incentive systems for use of public transportation; established company car policy: < 130 gr. CO²/km, trainings for fuel-efficient driving

Systematic sustainable mobility policy (for ex. where no public transportation is available: active car-sharing offers, employee parking spaces exclusively for car sharing, accessibility as an essential criterion for selection of locations, provision of company bicycles), participation in external bicycle initiatives [i]

As a result of in-company incentive policies the majority of employees uses public transportation / bus / train / bicycle / car sharing, teleworking optional

As a result of in-company incentive policies almost all employees use public transportation / bicycle / car sharing or teleworking optional

Organizational culture, awareness raising and in-house processes




Isolated attention to ecological aspects (for ex. newsletter, etc.)


Management demonstrates ecological behaviour  (for ex. no prestigious cars or exception regulations such as frequent air travel)

Isolated integration of ecological aspects into advanced training programs


Employees are involved in ecological decision-making processes (issues are raised at regular intervals, information events, signs in offices, etc.)

Integration of ecological aspects in advanced training programs on a regular basis


Employees are involved in ecological decision-making processes on a regular basis (for ex. ecological company suggestion system, budget for external ecological projects)


Institutionalized awareness programs for every employee (for ex. routine surveys on / discussion of ecological behaviour; footprint workshops).


Innovative approaches: for ex. “green social benefits”


D)     Special aspects concerning the evaluation

Size of company:

  • Size of company: Whereas in small companies individual lifestyles can be integrated quite well, the institutional influence exerted by management – for ex. the existence of a canteen, possibilities for providing shuttle services – grows with the size of the company.  
  • Regional risks: Urban-rural discrepancies must be taken into account since companies in urban areas often have better general conditions due to availability of public transport. Creativity when it comes to eco-mobility (for ex. urging employees to form car pools, providing charging stations for electro-bikes) should be considered for companies located in rural areas in particular.


Differentiation from other indicators

This indicator overlaps with C1/Physical health and safety. Heightened attention to mobility and nutrition tend to have a positive effect on the health of employees.

Company-internal mobility (business trips) is treated under E3.


Interventions in nutrition of individuals constitute an enormous infringement on the private sphere of the individual!

What we eat is a personal matter. No one likes to be told what and how much to eat. This goes for meat too, perhaps most of all. But is food really a personal matter?[1]

Since 1950, the annual per-capita meat consumption in Austria has risen from approx. 25 kg to almost 67 kg [2], whereas the average meat consumption of inhabitants of developing countries is 32.7 kg.[3] Now people have started placing value on regionally produced meat and other animal products, yet they often forget that the land surface of Austria no longer suffices to produce the immense quantities of feed necessary for animal husbandry.

Large-scale industrial livestock farming (in contrast to pasture feeding) no longer relies on the acreage directly available in the respective country; most feed is now purchased on the world market. According to the FAO, 40 % of the world’s grain production and ⅓ of available land is used for the production of animal proteins.[4]

For further information see I) Excursus.

What is an ecological footprint?

An ecological footprint indicates how many hectares of the global surface area each human being uses for his/her daily actions (living, mobility, food, consumption behaviour).

Although the notion of the ecological footprint is theoretical in nature, and data collection and analysis necessary for calculating it are very complex, it is an easily comprehensible tool for re-thinking routines and taking a more ecologically compatible approach. The larger the footprint, the greater the environmental impact is.

“The surface of the footprint is given in ‘global hectares’ (gha). The global hectare is a measure which takes varying fertility of soils and their capacity to crow crops and degrade toxins into account. Thus, the global hectare is an average value which is calculated on the basis of the differing “bio-capacity” of various soils. This makes it possible to compare the environmental consumption of various countries and their populations.”[5]

The average Austrian currently uses 4.9 global hectares, whereas the average Indian has a mere 0.8 global hectare at his/her disposal. A feasible, sustainable and fair global average would be 1.8 global hectares per world citizen.

Due to the great number of footprint calculators, distortions often occur. All footprint calculators should be oriented to the international Ecological Footprint Standards from 2006. This is ensured through transparent methodology and use of a calculator designed by a Global Footprint Network Partner.[6]

E) Definitions + Background

Evaluation of this indicator involves several aspects. In addition to specific topics which are characterized by a high degree of ecological influence (nutrition at the workplace; getting to work), the ways such topics are approached and integrated at the organizational level (advanced trainings and awareness, organizational culture) are evaluated as well.

  • Nutrition at the workplace: about one third of our average ecological footprint can be traced to food.[7] It is extremely improbable that any ecological turnaround can be achieved without making changes in dietary habits. Even if there is no company canteen, positive incentives can be provided (for ex. cooperation with bio-vegetarian restaurants and local organic food stores etc.). This has a positive effect in terms of company health promotion too.
  • Home-to-work mobility: about one fifth of our ecological footprint can be attributed to passenger traffic, of which more than 90 % is generated by air travel and car traffic. Home-to-work mobility influences emissions. Depending on the given circumstances (production location on the edge of a city, offices in the urban center, remote location etc.), quite diverse possibilities for creating incentives or promoting gentle mobility exist, such as public transport tickets, substitution through information technology, tele-working, a company transport system, encouragement of car pools, availability of company bicycles and roofed, protected bicycle parking lots, avoidance of company cars etc.).
  • Organizational culture, awareness-raising and in-house processes: This can be approached at many different levels and it leaves lots of room for creativity and innovation: for ex. integration of ecological aspects in company suggestion schemes, budgets for external ecological projects (project suggestion) by employees, “green social benefits” (for ex. financial support of private activities – thermal insulation, own home instead of company car). Willingness of employees is crucial for implementing such measures in the company. Awareness and knowledge of ecological impacts should be promoted through targeted measures, among them integration of ecological aspects in advanced trainings, footprint workshops for employees etc. Whereas large companies can exert greater influence regarding nutrition and mobility due to a larger degree of differentiation (for ex. canteen, shuttle buses), this point is accessible in equal measure for companies of all sizes.

F) Implementation

Below you can find background information on issues of environmental performance by companies:

 — Platform Footprint: for diverse information concerning the ecological footprint go to:

 — Fairmove: among other things, it gives an overview on CO2 emissions for all means of transport. The following data pertains to kilometre-per-person with an occupancy rate of 1.17 (for automobiles). Those who drive alone will have higher values and if two people always drive together, the value will decrease accordingly.[8]


Means of transport

gCO2/pkm (passenger kilometre)[9]









Public transport

approx. 40



Electro-car with green power


 G) Best practices

Swiss Re: “The COYou2 Reduce and Gain Programme” is an example of green social benefits:


H) Bibliography/Links/Experts                             


 — Nachhaltig handeln im beruflichen und privaten Alltag: Leitfaden für Unternehmen des Institutes für sozial-ökologische Forschung:

— Mobitool: Swiss platform for sustainable company mobility incl. tools for calculating mobility-related emissions:

— Mimona: Motivating sustainability among employees (data basis with practical examples)

— Mitarbeitermotivation für umweltbewusstes Verhalten: Ein Leitfaden für Umweltbeauftragte in Unternehmen des Bayrischen Landesamtes für Umwelt:,APGxNODENR:16564,USERxBODYURL:artdtl.htm,AARTxNR:lfu_agd_00058%29=X

I) Excursus: Meat

Due to its favourable nutrient composition and its relatively low price, soy in particular is often used as concentrated feed for European animal husbandry. Over 80 % of soy imports come from South America, which has a much larger surface area than the EU.

Through such imports, the EU member states make indirect use of a surface area amounting to almost 15 million ha, 13 million of which are in South America.[10]

The problems generated by monoculture such as loss of biodiversity, progressive soil erosion, large-scale clearing of wooded areas, impairment of regional hydrolic balance, disposal of animal feces, conflicts over land, expropriation and displacement are shielded from the geographic vantage point of consumers in other parts of the world, and yet they have a massive influence on the well-being of the global population.[11]


A look at the overall earnings in the animal husbandry sector underscores the dramatic nature of the situation. According to data supplied by the FAO, about 18 % of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to animal husbandry. The table below compares greenhouse gas emissions generated by animal- and plant-based foods.


Animal-based foods*


(g/kg solvent consumption)

Plant-based foods*


(g/kg solvent consumption)



Cooking oil




Tofu (case study)


Raw sausage












Eggs (free range)


Wheat grain


Cream cheese









*Production (conventional) + processing + trade, Germany

 Editor: Julia Grosinger,

[1] Declaration of Berne (2010), Fleisch – Weniger ist mehr,


[3] Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz, Le Monde diplomatique (2013), Fleischatlas – Daten und Fakten über Tiere als Nahrungsmittel, 130108_bund_landwirtschaft_fleischatlas.pdf

[4] FAO (2006), Livestock’s Long Shadow,



[7] In comparison to current dietary habits (meat, milk and milk products 5 times a week), a vegetarian diet (with milk and milk products 3 times a week) has an ecological footprint which is ⅔ smaller; a vegan diet reduces the size of the footprint by about ¾.

[8] Emissions are generated by transport, fuel production, power production, direct emissions, waste disposal and infrastructures; values given are for average vehicles.


[10] Von Witzke, Harald; Noleppa, Stefan; Zhirkova, Inga (2011), Fleisch frisst Land, WWF,


[i] For ex.