Strategic America has been making a long-term commitment to sustainability. And now, we’ve just received the Environmental Impact Award for Small Business from the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Center on Sustainable Communities and the Metro Waste Authority at an event sponsored by the Des Moines Water Works.
SA is among five organizations and one individual recognized this year for exemplifying environmental sustainable leadership and practices.
In moving our offices two years ago, we put significant attention into planning for environmental stewardship, including hiring a LEED consultant, to guide us. We faced some challenges beyond our control by moving into existing, leased space. While it takes a bit more time, resources and discipline, it supports what our associates told us in surveys that they strongly believe in, what our clients have modeled, and the kind of corporate citizenship we ourselves wish to live, everyday.
Even before relocating, we donated 95% of unneeded materials such as cubicles, filing cabinets and furniture to nonprofit agencies. Two major clean-up days greatly reduced storage needs.
We spent an additional 5% in our move to go green. We repurposed nearly all existing light fixtures, ceiling tiles, wood paneling, cabinetry and carpet in new ways or areas. Marble countertops were moved; a kiosk was turned into a message board. We assessed new items for eco-friendliness, such as Energy Star and motion-activated lighting that turns off when employees leave an area or office. We sourced glass walls and steel beams from local vendors. We installed Interface Flor recycled fiber carpet, where new flooring was needed.
The MAI office cubicles meet indoor air quality standards for GREENGUARD®, OSHA and WHO. Their height allows natural light, encouraging productivity and decreasing utilities. They’re recyclable, ensuring repurposing vs. a landfill someday. In a unique partnership, SA serves as a MAI Midwest showroom.
While SA pays a set utilities fee, all tenants benefit from our LED energy-saving signage, water-saving, low-flow, automated sensor faucets and fixtures, hand dryers, and programmable thermostats. Energy-Star rated appliances and electronics are used though out the nearly 26,000-square-foot space and we now have a Prius as a company car, cutting fuel consumption by half.
SA continues to reduce use of paper products and plastics. The SA Green Committee, with members from all departments, coordinates recycling of cans, bottles, paper and cardboard. They gathered 300 gallons in our first month alone. SA received permission to implement recycling for the entire building with dumpsters and a vendor service for cardboard and paper, which other tenants now use.
During SA’s last year-end cleanout, we recycled 129 boxes and eight 65-gallon bins of paper. We use both shredders for confidential materials and recycling bins in every department. Our filing requirements remain at 30% less than when we moved, even as we grow. We’ve not added any storage space. Our highly organized storage room is a more effective resource. Within three years, we want to eliminate any offsite storage.
Employees print only when necessary. The default function on computers is double-sided printing. Over the last two years, SA has lowered annual paper consumption by 17 cases. The goal this year is to eliminate 13 more cases.
Not only does all of this save money, but is clearly the right thing to do. If we can do it as a small business of 85 associates, you can, too.
My Recommended Reads:
- Sustainability and Green Business Trend Continues
- CSR – Where to start?
- Three Steps to Sustainable and Scalable Change: Rethinking a Company’s Business Model