Sustainability Resources in the Colorado Rockies

There are many beautiful reasons to live in the Rocky Mountains: 14,000 foot peaks; lush mountain valleys; abundant wildlife; and epic winter snow! And these are all the same reasons why sustainability is important. Making your business green and sustainable will help preserve the environment so many Coloradans love to get outside and enjoy.

allianceHere in Colorado, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado brings together community and leadership to promote a Colorado that values environmental, economic, and social wellness. The ASC works through their Alliance Center, policy, and education and outreach. The have a fantastic events calendar which provides a catalog of all the sustainability events being held in the Colorado area.

The city of Denver has an Office of Sustainability, which recently finalized its “2020 denverSustainability Goals.” The document, which is available online, highlights goals for the city and Colorado businesses in multiple categories including resource conservation, environmental and social sustainability topics.

catamountThe Catamount Institute has been inspiring ecological stewardship since 1997. Although most of its programs are in the Pikes Peak/Colorado Springs region they are definitely open to anyone in Colorado. Every year, the Catamount Institute hosts the Colorado Sustainability Conference in Colorado Springs which focuses on raising awareness of sustainable best practices and empowering attendees to “lead the way to positive change.”

At eco-officiency, we love the Rocky Mountains and enjoy working with clients in Colorado and around the country. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business be more sustainable!

Top 3 Recommended Sustainability Resources for Company Examples

The following three recommended resources are international organizations that offer broad information on sustainability to assist organizations, businesses, governments and communities in being greener. Keeping your business updated with sustainable practices starts at being informed of what other companies and organizations are doing to minimize resource use. Each organization has good information on company examples and application to various industries.

WRIThe World Resources Institute is a think tank that gathers information on critical areas of environmental need throughout the world. Using this research to employ experts, volunteers and WRI members, the organization forms integral partnerships that work on sustainable projects throughout the world. The resources available to the general public include the ability to create Strategic Relationships and becoming a member of a Corporate Consultative Group.

The Global Footprint Network provides cities, businesses and institutions with the ability to Global footprint networkasses their ecological global footprint. The first step towards finding out your ecological footprint is to go to the “Footprint Basics” tab, which includes a wealth of information for different groups on how to assess their contribution to environmental degradation. This website relates your footprint to that of other nations and organizations in the world, contrasting the differences created by levels of consumption and affluence.

nbis logoThe Network of Business Innovation and Sustainability is essentially a giant encyclopedia which links companies and organizations to all of the knowledge that they need to stay updated on the future of sustainability. Their network includes partners from governments, non-profits, individuals, professionals and even students. All of these people work together to teach, learn and innovate techniques and ideas about sustainability through events, workshops and discussions.

Five Recommended Articles on Sustainability from 2013

Recommended articles on sustainability include a broad range of topics, from global warming to leadership to ideas on creating a sustainable business.articles

The World’s Best Sustainability Ideas by Susan Adams

This article was published in Forbes Magazine and rewards businesses and organizations who are implementing the best ideas in sustainability. Among the businesses on the list include those who have learned to help others irrigate rain water, create building materials from local soils, and a medical company which created biodegradable injection needles.

The companies are inspirational, and many of them started with a simple idea. Many businesses who have a small idea can glean inspiration from those who blazed a path before them.

Adding a sustainability standpoint, the article argues, will give clients and contractors an idea of who the business is as an entity. The article does go on, however, to remind businesses that sustainability must be proven, and not just stated.

Sustainability Trends 2013 by Environmental Leader

The Logistics, Carbon and Business Data Book: Fall 2013 Sustainability Trends provides sustainability executives, decision-makers, and research teams a collection of charts presenting logistics, sustainability and sustainable business-driven data.

Sustainability and the C-Suite: Who’s Engaged, Who’s Not, and How to Gain More C-Level Support by University of Oregon

In partnership with the Sustainable Industries Magazine and University of Oregon Sustainability Leadership Program, this 2013 CXO Study reviews C-level management engagement in sustainability and survey findings with sustainable leadership.

Teaching Climate Change to Skeptics by Carmen Nobel

This article, originally published in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, is an acceptable read to encourage all office personnel to improve their sustainability efforts. The article states the fact that many American businessmen either believe climate change is man-made but there is nothing we can do or businessmen believe climate change is man-made and we should take action now, with a small percentage citing not enough evidence over time to make an educated decision about climate change overall.

Carmen Nobel moves forward to present facts for those who feel there is a shortage of long-term evidence. There is strong evidence, gathered over five decades, which prove a correlation between CO2 levels and human activity. The writer also cites data collected from ice cores in Antartica over thousands of years. The data proves that most CO2 damage began soon after the Industrial Age.

The article continues to argue that businesses which address climate change can build stronger brands, erase negative press and possibly save money.

Global Warming Finally Reaches the Last Arctic Region by Kathleen Ruhland

This article, published on The Conversation and reprinted by Scientific American, will further push businessmen to understand why they need to be sustainable now. The article states that the Hudson Bay area of Canada referred to as the Lowlands is the last arctic region on Earth to experience global warming.

Many skeptics were pointing to this area as proof that global warming was false, but their frigid arguments are quickly melting. The Lowlands were able to maintain steady, cold temperatures until the middle of the 1990’s. The ice of the Hudson Bay provided a natural freezer to keep the Lowlands cold and the biological communities stable.

Over the last few decades, however, the area is warming up at alarming rates. The ecosystems, from the polar bears to the humans living in the area, are falling apart faster than ever before. If businessmen want to improve their image, they will gear their business toward the fact that the world is working on its very last arctic ice region.

Here are more resources on sustainable business from eco-officiency.

Is Plant Based Packaging a Good Idea?

bio packagingAn emerging trend in the packaging world is to use plant-based packaging or ‘bio-based’ packaging. This material has sparked academic, industry, and philosophical debate about whether adding “packaging” to the many uses for food stuffs is a good idea.  Yes, plants are a renewable resource, but with the several competing uses of these resources (food for human consumption, feed for animals, ethanol, biodiesel, and traditional burning fuel), is packaging the best use for possible food or energy products? Most corn and soy in the U.S. is also of a genetically modified variety, leading to a whole other set of questions about what is a “sustainable” bio-material for packaging.

A good article “The Challenges of Using the Earth to Grow Energy” by sustainability consultant, Alan AtKisson talks in more depth about these packaging challenges with bio-based materials.

To learn about some of the companies that are using bio-based materials see this article by GreenBiz, “Five Global Companies to Push Plant Based Packaging”.

Environmental Sustainability Resources for Small Businesses from EPA

An essential small business resource is the Small Business Environmental Home Page. Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Asbestos and Small Business Ombudsman (ASBO), the Small Business Environmental Home Page was developed in 1996 and serves as a comprehensive directory of sustainable business information and environmental compliance specifically targeted to small businesses and assistance providers.SBA Resources

The collection of resources is extensive and organized per the following:

Environmental Compliance. Locate updates, publications, and factsheets regarding environmental compliance regulations and new rule implementation. This includes links to state specific regulations, timelines, and agencies.

Sector-Specific Compliance. Sponsored by the EPA, sector-specific, web-based National Compliance Assistance Centers were formed to assist regulated entities (e.g., combustion processes, automotive recycling, food processing, paints and coatings, printing, etc.) with issues and language unique to each industry. The Small Business Environmental Home Page links to each of these assistance centers.

Sustainability Resources. Find helpful portals to EPA-sponsored resources related to recycling, landscaping, energy use, pest control, waste management, refrigeration and AC, and more. Users may also identify grants, funding, and incentive opportunities for sustainable business practices. Links to state-specific agencies, guidelines, and opportunities are provided when possible.

Environmental References. Extensive assistance is provided in the form of a searchable database of EPA publications and factsheets, videos, website links, funding opportunities, and more.

Performance Measurement. Small business owners and assistance providers will also find guidelines for performance measurement for measuring compliance, including logic models.

Shared Information, Events, and Conferences. The website includes a searchable database of upcoming events and trainings. Access state and national newsletters and listserves. Identify national conference schedules, including the SBO/SBEAP National Conferences and Trainings.

Sustainability Resources for Small to Medium Sized Businesses in Denver/Boulder Colorado

Denver is leading the way for the denvernation in striving to become the “greenest” city in the country.  Greenprint, CORE, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and many more sustainability groups have played a vital role in Denver being named recently as 5th Greenest City Overall by Siemens.

Each of these organizations offer a wealth of resources to support small and medium sized businesses in the Denver/ Boulder area including:

Certifiably Green Denver: An Environmental Business Assistance Program with Greenprint that assists Denver businesses in identify opportunities to reduce waste, energy, air pollution and water.

CORE Catalyst: A program sponsored by CORE that matches talented graduate students from our leading Colorado Universities to do sustainability assessment and recommendation plans.

Sustainability Calendar: Managed by the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, this calendar keeps track of all the Colorado sustainability events and activities.

Here are also some other ideas and initiatives to investigate in becoming a green business:

  • The Denver Energy Challenge will encourage energy efficiency investment in our state and help advance our energy independence through large scale upgrades.  They hope to have 1,200 businesses participating by May 2013.
  • A carbon calculator is a great way to find out how you can help lower the release of carbon dioxide into our air.  This tool will help you find ways that your business can save energy and money.
  • They challenge you to join the Energy Star® Change a Light Pledge by changing at least one regular light bulb to a compact fluorescent bulb.
  • You can also find links to LEED®-certified builders or Energy Star® builders who can help you with your design plans for your business or with additions to existing structures.
  • Of course, one of the simplest ways to make a real change with very little investment is to plant a tree!

At Officiency our mission is to support organizations and consumers in developing and implementing eco-friendly initiatives to reduce environmental impact, resource consumption and waste while maximizing efficiency within business and home environments.  We hope and strive to have Denver become the number one greenest city in North America!

Contact us and we can help you take small steps that will make a big impact.

Recommended Sustainability Resources for Colorado Small Businesses

Because Colorado continues to be a leader in small business implementation of environmentally-friendly business practices, our state has created an abundance of organizations and resources which can help guide a business in their sustainability plans.

CORE

CORE is dedicated to helping Colorado denverorganizations implement sustainability in their operations, products, and workforce development, focused on small and medium businesses. They have success stories that share sustainability best practices of businesses in the Colorado community.

Certifiably Green Denver

They can give free and confidential assistance with your environmental questions and concerns.  Because they work specifically with the small businesses of Denver, they can give you knowledgeable information to help with avoiding environmental liability specific to this area, while not sacrificing your profitability.

Denver Energy Challenge

You can find information regarding rebates and also find help with your energy-saving efforts.  You can even talk to an expert by phone Mon. thru Sat. (8:00AM to 6:00PM) at (720) 865-5520.  These are the people to talk to if you are preparing to do an “energy upgrade” as they will help you throughout the process.

Watts To Water

This water conservation program recognizes and awards small business for their water conservation efforts. All hotels and offices with over 5000 sq. ft. of space can participate with minimal effort, but the benefits to your business are great.

Denver Regional Council of Governments

This organization focuses on enabling telework as an alternative to commuting which will help our community reduce pollution, ease traffic congestion and create higher levels of employee satisfaction.  They can work with your company to help you implement a tele-commuting plan that can work in your situation.

The Colorado Carbon Fund

They have created the first, statewide, voluntary offset program in the U.S., with special attention paid to the GHG reduction projects in our state, which will mean verifiable and permanent carbon offsets.

Eco-officiency offers sustainability consulting services in Colorado and nationwide. We provide expert business advisors to assist organizations and individuals in becoming more sustainable in their work and personal lives.  Contact us to discover how we can help you today!

Sustainable Packaging Design Options and Choices

Even without considering the benefits of recycling on the environment (of which there are many), there are more benefits beyond that in sustainable packaging.  Consider the matter of cost.  The expense of packaging can be a major cost driver; indeed, an article from Environmental Leader reports that “sustainability will replace cost as one of the packaging industry’s major challenges” in the next ten years.  Fortunately there are resources available for those who want to explore sustainable packaging in earnest.

In 2012 Deloitte released a paper entitled “Thinking outside the box–Throw away your current approach to packaging” which includes several ideas for those who want to make the shift to sustainability.  This includes a “spectrum of sustainable packaging opportunities”

  • “Passive” materials switch–changing traditional packaging materials with environmentally-friendly ones
  • “Active” materials switch–changing traditional packaging materials with those that require a change in consumer behavior (like reusable packaging)
  • Packaging and product design changes–changing the packaging to require fewer materials or fewer steps
  • Supply chain process redesign–to reduce packaging needs

In the realm of the “passive” materials switch, Dell sustainable packagingan article about Dell’s switch to sustainable packaging catches the eye.  It discusses the use of bamboo, a high-tensile strength grass that is rapidly renewable.  It promotes healthy soil, grows 24 inches a day, and proper harvesting means that it doesn’t require replanting.  Plus, the treatment of bamboo doesn’t involve the dumping of toxic chemicals, and it can be dried in the sun.

The same site giving us information on Dell’s notbox sustainable packagingpackaging also gives us news about an “active” materials switch.  The Notbox Company, which has been serving the European community for several years, will be bringing its reusable packaging products to the United States.  According to Notbox, their reusable packages can make 20 or more trips, which is well more than the single-use-then-discard nature of regular cardboard boxes.

But, of course, it isn’t all about the cost benefit ratio when it comes to sustainable packaging.  It’s estimated that packaging makes up about one-third of municipal waste in the United States.  Considering the looming crisis in some states of running out of landfill space, that number becomes a bit too large to ignore.

For more information on this and other ways to green up your business, please contact us.

Sustainability Green Apps That Can Save The Planet And Save You Money Too

Our smart phones and tablets are becoming a big part of our daily lives and not only are they great for texting and taking photos but they can also be used to help us achieve our goals for environmental responsibility.  We have listed four green apps that are useful resources that we encourage you to check out.  Perhaps you can use them to improve your own environmental footprint and maybe save some money too!

GoodGuide goodguide.com (free)

“The GoodGuide app instantly reveals whether products are safe, healthy, green and socially responsible while you shop. The app’s barcode scanning feature lets you quickly access GoodGuide’s science-based health, environment and social ratings for over 170,000 products. GoodGuide’s personalization features enable you to choose the issues you care about most – like nutritional value, safe and healthy ingredients, animal welfare, human rights, climate change, energy efficiency, and more. The app will then inform you whether products pass or fail on your key criteria. By making information about consumer products transparent, GoodGuide’s mission is to help you shop your values wherever you shop.”

iRecycle earth911.com (free)

“iRecycle can tell you how, where and when to recycle just about anything. Using your current location, ZIP code, address or city, get access to vital details for collection points, such as Web site, phone number, directions, hours of operation and other materials collected.”

iViro envirolytics.ca (free)

“Save money and reduce your home’s environmental impact quickly and cheaply by completing a full home energy analysis and getting results on the best places in your home to make energy saving changes.  Perform your own quick or detailed energy analysis with no prior technical experience. Get heating, cooling, lighting, hot water and appliance energy consumption break downs with yearly cost and CO2 emission estimates. Upgrade and retrofit suggestions include yearly savings, economic projections, payback period and information about various energy saving alternatives.”

Locavore locavo.re (free)

“Based on your phone’s GPS location, Locavore will make searching for in-season, local food a breeze by pinpointing farms and farmers’ markets nearest you. Read all about them on their profile page, find that specific local item you have been looking for or just check out what’s in-season right now. Plus, you can get recipe suggestions to make with your delicious local food and then, brag about it to all your friends through Facebook.”

If you have used, or know of apps that support the environment and sustainability, we would love to hear about it.

Recycling Resources- good for business and good for the environment

Recycling isn’t just good for the environment. It is good for business. Taking used materials and re-purposing them not only saves valuable resources, it can save money and create a much cleaner, more eco-friendly world.

You may not have thought of many of the underlying reasons why recycling is good. For one, recovering old materials for new uses helps to keep manufacturing jobs located in the United States, according to the EPA. That can help the nation maintain its competitive edge, even in tough economic times.

Recycling also lowers the need for landfills and incinerators that burn rubbish, which in turn helps to preserve space for other uses and decrease the amount of trash-related pollution released in the air we breathe. Along the same lines, recycling also prevents toxins linked to making new goods out of raw materials from entering the atmosphere because those products don’t have to be made in the first place. Moreover, recycling helps us conserve valuable natural resources, including the forests where wood is found as well as water supplies and raw minerals.

In short, there are many reasons to recycle, but the first step always begins with businesses taking the initiative to set up systems to make it successful in the workplace.

Click here for a comprehensive list of recycling resources especially for hard-to-recycle items not usually taken by waste management facilities.

If you’re interested in setting up recycling for your business don’t hesitate to contact us.