"While many of our employees have fostered individual environmentally friendly habits at BrownFlynn, the Environmental Team is excited to create a formal strategy for improving our collective environmental impact."
-Emily Baunach, Environmental Stewardship Team Leader
The global demand for environmental sustainability has grown significantly in the past few years, solidifying our belief in the importance and urgency of what we do. Although some of our greatest examples of advancing environmental sustainability are through our client work, we also strive to respect the environment with our internal operations.
Our Environmental Stewardship Team intends to formalize and enhance discipline around our environmental commitment with an Environmental Policy and a Sustainable Purchasing Policy. These policies will focus on our most significant environmental impacts, establishing systems for monitoring our environmental footprint and promoting individual accountability for our contributions to that footprint.
Carbon emissions associated with employee transportation and business travel, possibly our most significant environmental impact, is an area where BrownFlynn has an opportunity to improve practices. In the past year, we made important steps to encourage telecommuting and have reduced travel through communications technology upgrades and a company-wide conversion from desktops to portable laptop computers.
Although our energy footprint is relatively small (given the size of the building we occupy and limited use of major energy consuming devices), the global energy and climate change crisis presents opportunities to reduce costs and risks associated with dependence on fossil fuels. We aspire to lessen our energy-related impacts through individual behavior at our office and investment in alternative energy.
To lower our carbon footprint, BrownFlynn is currently taking part in EcovationsTM
, a renewable energy program offered by Dominion and supplied by Integrys Energy Services, Inc. Through this program, the carbon dioxide emitted by burning eight percent of the natural gas we use each year is offset by sourcing gas from renewable alternatives and by purchasing carbon offsets. Furthermore, we practice small energy conservation steps daily by shutting down all computers and power sources at the end of the work day, lowering the thermostat in the winter, turning off lights every time we leave a room, and making use of natural light whenever possible.
While we have struggled in the past to effectively promote carpooling or the use of public transportation, our Environmental Stewardship Team plans to explore improved tracking and management of business-related travel, including employee commuting. This will provide us with the information we need to develop more efficient transportation practices.
Sustainable Purchasing and Supply Chain
While we are currently in the process of creating a formal Sustainable Purchasing Policy, we have informally given preference to sustainable purchasing options for office supplies and marketing materials in recent years. For example, BrownFlynn's printed marketing materials are created using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified and carbon neutral products, and we prefer to purchase cleaning and landscaping materials with minimal environmental impacts.
Going forward, we recognize that a formal policy with a clear system for evaluating and selecting products will be more effective for tracking and improving our environmental impact. We also believe that part of bringing the highest value possible to clients includes choosing local suppliers who understand and respond to environmental and social concerns. We currently select our vendors based on location, cost, and environmental and social performance.
Waste and Recycling
Standard office waste represents another of our relatively significant environmental impacts. To gain a better understanding of our waste stream and opportunities to reduce the amount going to a landfill, BrownFlynn conducted a waste audit over the course of a three-week period during the summer of 2008.
Presently, we provide recycling options for basic office waste and have recently updated receptacles to include signage listing the kinds of waste that can and cannot be recycled through our service provider. Raising awareness with our team members will help encourage all of us to be more conscious about what gets thrown away.
BrownFlynn completed our first waste audit during the summer of 2008. Over the course of three weeks, we sorted the garbage going to landfill into categories and estimated the volume of each category in gallons. We used the U.S. Department of Environmental Quality's volume-to-weight conversion factors to estimate the total weight of each category. We measured recycled materials separately using the same process. We found that, by weight, roughly half of our waste was sent for recycling and half was landfill-bound during the audit period.
Based on the trends we identified during our waste audit, we can more effectively prioritize waste reduction and recycling efforts for maximum impact as we develop our environmental policy in the coming year. We will need to conduct a more formal waste audit in the future to establish an accurate baseline before measuring and reporting waste reduction.