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Green Compensation

Start implementing actions that can offset or counterbalance the environmental effects generated by business processes that cannot be changed.

How can we reduce the environmental impact of a process without making any changes to the original process itself?

Nowak, A., Leymann, F., Schleicher, D., Schumm, D., & Wagner, S. (2011, October 21). Green business process patterns. Proceedings of the 18th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs. PLoP 11: Pattern Languages of Programs Conference 2011.

Description

Some processes may be hard to redesign or restructure in regards to sustainability due to the nature of tasks they are performing or due to other internal restrictions.

The challenge is to find a proper solution for compensating the environmental impact without changing the process. In order to provide a trustworthy compensation, organizations can implement a certified compensation alternative to improve visibility at the customer’s site.

Solution

Whenever a business process that cannot be modified is initiated, a compensation process or activity is initiated, too. This process or activity compensates (parts of) the environmental impact caused by the original process.

Green Compensation Illustration
Green Compensation Illustration

Results

Although the original process cannot be modified, the implementation of the pattern is able to achieve an improvement of the environmental impact from a global point of view because negative effects are not reduced, but compensated by positive effects. These positive effects may be further improved through an environmental certification of the corresponding compensation activities.

Examples

Production processes may require specific machines coming with a high upfront investment. These machines have certain well-defined process steps. The production waste originating from these machines, for example, may not be reduced without investing in new and expensive machines. So, although the production waste cannot be reduced, a donation for an environmental organization (e.g., for planting a tree or for buying rainforest) can be used to improve the environmental impact from a global perspective. Another example is the compensation of carbon emission occurred when burning fuel in auto mobiles. Oil companies provide a sustainability program that offers customers to compensate the amount of carbon dioxide for each refuel by investing in renewable energy.

Variations

This pattern can be used in a custom way by using conditional compensations. For example, the compensation process or activity is only performed at every tenth initiation of the original process. This decision can be based on different aspects like waste that has been produced during process performance or the compensation value, for example.

Key Takeaways

1
Unchangability Certain processes may be difficult to reconfigure for sustainability due to their nature or internal constraints.
2
Compensate Initiate a compensatory process whenever an immutable business process begins, offsetting part or all of the original process's environmental impact.
3
Vary The pattern can be customized with conditional compensations, such as initiating the compensatory process only after a set number of iterations of the original process, based on factors like waste produced or compensation value.

Performance considerations

Although the original process cannot be modified, the implementation of the pattern is able to achieve an improvement of the environmental impact from a global point of view because negative effects are not reduced, but compensated by positive effects. These positive effects may be further improved through an environmental certification of the corresponding compensation activities.

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