I recently began working as a green buildings fellow at a university campus. While I have general goals to make the campus more sustainable, I'm learning the mechanical engineering behind energy efficiency projects, the art of persuasion and communication, and of course, excel hacks. But as much as I'm learning, no one person should have to do the technical part of switching to more sustainable practices AND convince everyone it's the right thing to do. It is so uncomfortable to be the youngest person in the room and telling people that they should consider alternatives to things they've been doing for decades. It would be so much better if everyone had their individual tools and knowledge to do what they do best, but more sustainably. I know I would be putting myself out of a job, but it's so exhausting to be the odd one out trying to change the culture of an entire organization, from the bottom up. I'd rather create a training program, supported by management, which allows people to continue doing their work and getting credit for it.
I understand the importance of my role and how I'm the person who is supposed to educate others and be that constant reminder that there are sustainable options out there and things don't have to get done a particular way just because they were done that way before. But one of the hardest parts about the job is preventing people from feeling threatened (job security) or offended (criticizing their job performance). It's also difficult answering the question "How does this sustainability initiative benefit me?" I always want to yell back "Do you want your kids to have a livable future?" but end up patiently stating "Because it's the right thing to do"
My point is that having a "sustainability" person on your team is probably going to burn them out real quick because they can't do everything at once. Instead, it would be best to invest on some sort of training on your team which gives everyone the tools needed to apply sustainability to their role. Placing the role of sustainability on a few is ineffective and frankly irresponsible.
I believe the previous writing is only true in unsupportive work environments, where, even if individuals are being supportive, the overall culture lacks the incentive to change. Sustainability Analyst/Manager/Director is indeed a wonderful career that requires strong change management skills, compassion, and optimism. I look forward to continue learning about these skills and how this field will continue evolving.