In a modern startup office, a diverse group of young professionals collaboratively tackles various business problems and challenges, surrounded by their engaged colleagues, fostering innovation and

blog | april 2024

InConversation: ISS Experts Discuss Sustainability

Our team examines the vital role of sustainable business practices, how they align with employee well-being, and how technology acts as a throughline to achieve major goals.

Each year, the need for sustainable business practices grows more critical. As organizations and economies prepare for the impacts of climate change, workplace culture and technology aid in the drive to make necessary transformations that create a more sustainable planet. We spoke to a few of our in-house experts to discuss the current state of corporate sustainability efforts, how technology drives and streamlines innovation, and the importance of employee well-being as we strive for a better future. Below is an excerpt from the conversation.

How do we collaborate to create a comprehensive sustainability strategy?

Ashlee Adams, Head of Environmental Sustainability, ISS Americas:

In terms of our organization-wide sustainability strategy, a lot of what we do revolves around our net-zero commitment, and we have a lot of programs that slide underneath that. These programs also tie in things like food, health, wellness, as well as information technology that helps us stay conscious of our carbon impact.

Alice Fournier, Chief Information Officer, ISS Americas:

That’s true, it’s a real company-wide effort. A lot of sustainability strategy is about getting the right data. To get the right data, you need effective systems and people inputting that information correctly. This data affects everything we do across the business and none of the initiatives are siloed. Sustainability is also in the DNA of our organization. ISS is a Danish company after all, and Denmark leads the way in sustainability efforts globally. It’s a consideration in everything.

Shauna McQueen, Director of Nutrition and Well-being, ISS Guckenheimer:

From a well-being standpoint, we also have a lot of things we do to complement sustainability. Nutrition, well-being, sustainability — these things are so interconnected, and we have a lot of great initiatives we’re focused on right now. We’re increasing our plant-based menu mix within any of our food programs. We’re also tracking food waste so we can be smarter about engineering menus to make sure we’re seeing waste reductions across the board. We’re mindful about using sustainable proteins — we have a partnership with the Humane Society, and we’ve been rated number one for the second year in a row for sustainable protein, which is something we’re really excited about.

Ashlee Adams:

There’s one thing I’ll add to that, Shauna. You brought up sustainable food, and it brought to mind regulations and laws passed in Europe and in California about how we farm and produce food and the effect that has on our environment. We need to be more sustainable to comply with these rules and regulations, understanding how we can provide and prepare the food we need in a way that benefits the environment. How do we not only do no harm, but also actually provide a benefit? With these new regulations, it forces everyone to get serious about what we’re going to have to do to make positive impacts.


How do we measure success when it comes to sustainability?

Alice Fournier:

We have lots of metrics around our carbon footprint. With our technology, we’re being very intentional about what we measure and how we measure it. But outside of hard data, I think we can also measure success in how innovative we want to be. How much do we want to lean in? How much do we want to do? There’s tying ourselves to our carbon footprint, but there’s more. I love what Shauna was referring to around our leadership in sustainable protein. That’s a great example of pushing ourselves to go further and it’s the result of a strong focus.

Ashlee Adams:

And it’s also having a culture that supports it, right? As you said, it’s in our company’s DNA and it’s a part of how we function.

Alice Fournier:

We make choices that not only affect us, but also our clients. On both the food and facility services side, when a building is managed successfully that also has a positive impact on the environment. When you understand assets properly and maintain them proactively, that prevents a lot of unnecessary maintenance and spending. The less you buy, the better you are for the environment. All these choices matter — who our partners are, how we select our suppliers, how we benefit our clients with the decisions we make.

Ashlee Adams:

Commercial buildings are responsible for about 16% of U.S. carbon emissions. Globally, that number is much higher. And in urban areas, buildings create around 60% of overall carbon emissions. Often in managing those buildings, much of the energy used is wasted. We have an enormous opportunity to ensure energy can be saved and used correctly — we can bring that to our clients because we have the expertise to achieve that. Our emissions reduction target was validated by the Science Based Targets initiative. Not many businesses have this distinction, and that’s significant because you have to really be willing to do what is required to attain those numbers. Reporting isn’t just for its own sake; it has to mean something. How do you create action around those targets? How do you drive it through the business? These are the questions we’re answering now, and I’m really excited about that.


With the prominence of hybrid and remote work, how do employers promote sustainability and employee wellness?

Shauna McQueen:

It’s about creating connection for your employees and giving them the right experiences in the workplace. If someone is remote or not regularly in the office, you have to find a way to build that sense of culture for them. You can do that through creative programming and through the communications you’re using through leadership. When employees feel like their well-being is important to their employer, they’re happier. When they enjoy their work and experience less stress, they’re more likely to thrive in all areas of life. They’re more resilient and they’re more likely to stick around. We’re a valuable partner for our clients by helping build this kind of culture for everyone, but client leadership has to be involved and be an advocate for the programming.

Alice Fournier:

I’m thinking about the technology role in all of that. There are really two levels to how it enables wellness and well-being. On the one hand, you have workplace technology making it easy to connect. There’s great technology out there for understanding who’s in the office. When you’re talking about large offices or multiple campuses, just knowing who’s around will influence whether you go in. Are the people I need to work with in the office? Shauna, to your point, are leaders also there? Because that matters to create connections. Workplace technology provides visibility for these things. But we’ve got to earn the commute because people are very comfortable in their home offices.

The second part is for those people working remotely. The importance — and it cannot be overstated — of ensuring that when you work with remote employees, that time of connection matters. Don’t just use technology as a means to get work done, use it as a tool to enable connections.

Shauna McQueen:

Especially for somebody who may feel isolated working from home and may not see their colleagues regularly, creating those moments for relationship building is almost as important as the work itself because it builds stronger teams and individuals.

Ashlee Adams:

Yes, and to have some impact on our clients’ sustainability journeys, it starts with the employees in the office and how you can affect the culture. It can be difficult to create culture when people are dispersed. But when people are together, it feeds the culture. To what Shauna was saying, they find connections. They’re more likely to stick around and support each other. We weave sustainability into all that by managing the building appropriately, serving healthy and sustainable food, and helping create a mindset that benefits our clients.


People may associate sustainability with reductions. Do we have to think about it this way? Can abundance be part of a sustainable economy?

Ashlee Adams:

It’s an enormous question, but I think the short answer is yes, there is a way to do that. I’ve worked in sustainability for 18 years now and in that amount of time, we’ve started to realize that thinking of sustainability in terms of scarcity of resources leads to more consumption. We know this sort of psychology — there’s a scarcity of resources, so I have to hoard them. If we turn that around and say no, we actually have plenty of everything we need, and I use what I need — but only what I need — we can start building from there. Contributing to the greater good is a priority and we do that through the choices we make now. We don’t talk about it in terms of deprivation, we talk about it in terms of contribution. 

Alice Fournier:

Everyone can contribute a piece to ensure that we create the right environment. I think food is a great example of this abundance thinking. You can focus on sustainably but also offer really appealing and exciting foods from phenomenal chefs.

Shauna McQueen:

We try to take that abundance mentality in our food programming and how we create our dishes. We’re not going to create a boring plant-based option — it’s going to be something vibrant and flavorful, that when people walk by, they’re like, “Whoa, what is this?” You can pique their curiosity and expose them to different flavors. What starts in the workplace can really ripple out to not only impact the individual, but also families and communities.

For more on sustainability, please contact

Ashlee Adams, Head of Environmental Sustainability, Americas