The Green Steps Program (Græn skref) is developed for government agencies in Iceland with the overall aim of decreasing environmental impacts from daily operations in the public sector. The program was established in 2014 and the Environment Agency of Iceland oversees it and assists and guides government agencies in its implementation. The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources finances the program and participation is therefore free of charge. Participation is optional, but according to the Government Offices‘ Climate Policy, all government agencies must complete all five steps before June 1, 2021 and keep Green Accounting as well. Today, 87 government agencies with 290 offices are registered in the Green Steps program, but a total of about 170 government agencies are to be found in Iceland. 64 offices have finished all five steps of the program.
Participating agencies follow five different steps from which the last one includes the implementation of an environmental management system. Each step includes seven different categories:
- Electricity and Heating
- Waste Sorting and Waste Reduction
- Meetings and Events
- Communication and Management
- Kitchen and Cafeteria
Certain actions are required to complete each step and the challenge becomes greater with every step. The actions include reducing energy use and waste, implementing green public procurement, promoting sustainable transport and keeping Green Accounting. Each step needs to be completed before the next one starts. When an agency finishes their first step a representative from the Environment Agency carries out an audit before the agency is granted an acknowledgement of completing the first step. After that the agency can proceed with the next steps.
Green Accounting is one of the actions of the Green Steps Program, but it dates back to 2011. It‘s a simple accounting form that generates statistical information regarding the main environmental aspects of an agency‘s operations, e.g. fuel use, energy consumption, paper use, cleaning products, and waste generated. Using Green Accounting, agencies can monitor their purchases, consumption, resource use and emissions more effectively, keep track of their environmental impacts, set appropriate goals, and track progress towards these goals. In 2019, 32 government agencies submitted Green Accounting and many more are starting this work.
In addition to reducing the environmental impacts of the public sector, the objectives of the project are also to increase employee well-being, reduce operating costs and make the environmental operations of the public sector visible.
For further information regarding The Green Steps Program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org