Our Comprehensive Corporate Sustainability Plan
OUR TOP 25 Corporate Sustainability Management Initiatives
1. Developing all Verdigris Group property developments as well as our own offices in accordance with the "gold-standard" of green building – the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System.
LEED® Certification assures third-party verification and commissioning of buildings’ energy performance, waste management, indoor environmental quality, water efficiency, material and resource use and design innovation.
By attaining the LEED® Certification on each project we undertake, we ensure that our sustainability goals with regard to the built environment are achieved while, by example, our community and market leadership transforms our industry.
2. Central to our suite of green initiatives is to ensure that we are reducing our consumption and waste as much as we can before taking steps to offset our impact on the environment by other means.
We practice and operate by the simple mantra - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. For Example, we reduce our consumption and waste through using the latest technologies in communications, our office furniture is reclaimed or reconstructed from our surrounding community, and we recycle everything possible including paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastic and glass in our offices.
3. The total set of green-house gas (GHG) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an organization is commonly called its ‘carbon footprint’. In order to best understand the extent to which our operations negatively impact the environment, we measure, analyze and manage our carbon footprint. Calculating our natural gas usage, electricity usage, vehicle usage and air travel enables us to identify not only our impact as a company but at the same time facilitates our process of developing methods of reducing our consumption.
In order to manage the process of understanding our environmental footprint we have incorporated elements from the ISO 14001 environmental management standards system to assist us in our assessment of our carbon footprint (the amount of green house gases our operations and activities are directly responsible for).
This process is summarized as: PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)
Plan: Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the organization's environmental policy.
Do: Implement the process.
Check: Monitor and measure processes against environmental policy, objectives, targets, legal and other requirements, and report the results.
Act: Take actions to continuously improve the performance of our environmental management strategy and systems.
4. Transparently measuring, verifying and systematically reducing our organizational carbon-footprint is a core principle to our Sustainable Enterprise Operations Strategy. In order to set a standard and baseline for our business, as well as an example to other organizations, we make our process and results open to the public.
5. Presenting to our shareholders ‘Annual Sustainability Reports’ that cover the financial, environmental and social progress the organization has achieved—the ‘triple bottom-line’ of our sustainable business strategy.
6. We purchase and utilize Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from carbon-free energy providers and sources such as wind farms and solar projects to offset 100% of the electricity used in all of our offices.
Each of us, by virtue of our daily activities – driving, flying, running our homes – is directly and indirectly responsible for pollution and the atmospheric accumulation of greenhouse gases. Quantifying these activities allows us to determine the number of carbon credits or Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to buy to offset our organizational carbon footprint.
Renewable energy is available in three ways: from the local utility company, through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs), or through direct purchasing by a renewable energy supplier.
Our Corporate Partner in this effort is the Bonneville Environmental Foundation whose mission is to encourage and fund activities and projects that lead to greater reliance on clean, environmentally preferred renewable power. Partnered with the BEF, Verdigris Group can achieve our goals through intelligent and environmentally sustainable sources of electricity.
The Bonneville Environmental Foundation is among the first Green-e Climate Certified greenhouse gas emission reduction products offered on the retail market.
Green-e Climate is the nation's first certification program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions (carbon offsets) sold to the retail market. This consumer-protection program strengthens the voluntary market by providing credible oversight of and transparency to retail offset products.
Organizations purchasing Green-e Climate Certified Carbon Offsets have clear information about the projects their GHG reductions are sourced from, and are guaranteed that offsets have not been double sold or double counted. The program verifies that a seller's supply of offsets equals their sales, that GHG reductions are independently certified and verified, and that consumer disclosures are accurate.
7. As our company grows, we supplement and reduce our wind and solar credit purchases with on-site, renewable energy generated by photovoltaic solar panels on the roofs of our company-owned offices. ‘PV’ solar energy production and government tax-credit subsidies will contribute to supporting Verdigris Group’s electricity consumption needs while reducing operating costs and contributing energy back to the municipal power-grid.
8. We strive to reduce our footprint further by using advanced communications technologies. This means we connect with people across town and around the globe by utilizing conference calls, web meetings, and video conferencing instead of driving or flying, and presenting virtually instead of printing.
9. Dramatically reducing our daily operating waste by using paperless contracts through Contracts Online (a Web-hosted application developed by IBM Research ), as well as utilizing in-house communications exclusively through non-consuming methods such as voice, email and text services.
We inevitably will find ourselves getting information printed. For all of Verdigris Group’s print materials using paper, we bulk purchase our office paper, making sure that it is either Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and/or 100% post-consumer recycled paper and processed without the use of chlorine or chlorine compounds. Any paper that comes into our office either leaves in a useful state or is recycled.
10. Verdigris Group is committed to searching for and utilizing printing services that effectively manage their environmental impacts as well as record our usage by providing a monthly total of all products used including reports, brochures, business cards, forms, checks, etc. Additionally, all of our business cards, brochures, and other marketing materials are printed on FSC-certified stock, with 100% post-consumer recycled content, using vegetable-based dyes, by a printer that uses a waterless printing process that eliminates emissions to both water and air. That’s smart design and we are committed to supporting it. Plus, we carefully evaluate the "right to exist" of every piece we print.
11. Mitigating the use and storage of paper, we have established a relationship with Green House Data who is assisting us in developing a comprehensive electronic document storage system by way of hard-drive file servers and/or online data storage/ archiving systems. This system encourages the use of electronic documents, contracts and communications, helping facilitate the minimization of paper use and waste, as well as providing for a secure back-up system for all of our corporate files, contracts, etc.
12. Our offices are equipped with Energy Star computers and monitors, occupant-sensor lighting systems with low-energy consuming compact fluorescent bulbs and/or LEDs throughout, and an Energy Star low energy consumption printer all of which dramatically reduce the company’s carbon dioxide emissions while reducing energy expense.
13. Our offices will be outfitted with the Green Switch or similar power management system. This is essentially one wall-switch which controls the entire office’s electrical power outlet system, enabling one person closing the office to ensure that there is zero energy consumption at night or while no one is on the office.
Devices such as appliances, computers, cell phone chargers, etc. are proven to consume up to 15% of one’s energy usage while they are not in use. This Green Switch system will mitigate this unwarranted consumption, further reinforcing our energy conservation efforts.
14. As part of our carbon-reduction strategy, Verdigris Group pledged to institute a Carbon Sequestration tree-planting initiative each year from 2009 through 2013 by which our organization plants a designated number of trees per year to contribute to our own offsetting strategy.
This is achieved by purchasing land designated solely for tree growing. We will maximize our offsetting as the purchase of 1 acre of land (43,560 sq. ft.) allows for approximately 1089 trees to be planted with 400 sq. ft. per tree. (One tree offsets at least one ton of CO2 during its life.)
15. In order to further reduce our environmental impact we incentivize our employees and consultants to telework /telecommute as much as possible through virtual offices, in order to reduce travel-times and fuel-expenses thereby promoting greater efficiency and reducing our contribution to carbon emissions.
When local travel is necessary, we encourage utilizing alternative and public transportation, car-pools, and walking or bicycling among other methods of transportation thereby decreasing their own environmental impact as a result of their involvement with our organization.
16. Verdigris Group exclusively purchases alternative-fuel vehicles such as hybrid, bio-diesel and E85 (flex-fuel) for all company-owned transportation needs.
17. Our water conservation efforts will include Sloan Valve’s flush-less urinals and Uppercut Dual-Flush toilets in all office restrooms. Each flush-less urinal and water conserving toilet will save approximately 40,000 gallons of water per year (average use).
18. Utilizing Green Seal certified cleaning supplies and the use of environmentally friendly cleaning and maintenance products improves out internal air quality and reduces toxins released into our aquifers.
19. Utilizing locally reclaimed and recycled materials for all of our office furniture, such as remanufactured workstations.
20. Constructing a comprehensive database of green residential and commercial properties for the green-minded buyer, seller and investor, including LEED® certified, Green Points certified, and other local municipally-regulated green certification systems throughout the states in which we operate.
21. Offering incentives & bonuses for our employees to help them meet their own individual environmental goals. This could take the form of gift certificates for the purchase of a bicycle of their choice, carbon offset certificates to assist in their personal environmental goals, and/or subsidizing green-related educational opportunities, such as seeking USGBC LEED® Accreditation.
As an integral part of our corporate culture, we seek out the opinions and advice of our employees when developing incentive programs in order to maximize participation and encourage involvement.
22. Placing informational placards throughout our offices explaining individual elements of our sustainable business operations in order to educate our clients and guests with regard to exactly how we are accomplishing our goals in environmental stewardship.
23. Creating strategic alliances and creative partnerships with like-minded firms and specialists in land planning, architecture, urban design, economic development, research, marketing and consumer goods. In seeking out and developing these relationships, Verdigris Group is empowered to contribute to complex and cutting-edge projects on a global scale.
24. How do we achieve "Carbon Neutrality"? After having implemented each of these Sustainable Management Initiatives intended to reduce our environmental impact, we are committed to purchasing renewable energy certificates and carbon emissions reduction credits (or offsets) through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
Although Carbon Offsetting can help reduce the impact of our activities in the short term, offsetting is not a long-term solution to global climate change and is not a substitute for reducing our emissions at their source. It is our goal to achieve as minimal an organizational carbon footprint as possible before implementing offsets.
Carbon offsets work like this: whatever pollution we add to the atmosphere, we can “deduct” by purchasing carbon offsets. These are credits for emissions reductions achieved by contributing to the development of projects such as solar installations and wind farms. By purchasing carbon offsets we apply them against our own carbon-footprint and reduce our net impact on the environment with positive contribution toward the creation of new sources of sustainable energy.
Offsets are sound investments in our future. Our tree-planting verification protocol is ISO 14064-2 and our renewable energy credits are Green-e Certified.
The operational boundary of our environmental footprint assessment includes an analysis of premises' energy use, waste disposal, business travel and commuting habits. We strive to account for all of our environmental impacts, offsetting the ones we cannot yet eliminate.
The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) is the world’s first and North America’s only legally binding, rules-based greenhouse gas emissions allowance trading system, as well as the world’s only global system for emissions trading based on all six greenhouse gases. As a member of this organization, Verdigris Group will gain leadership recognition for taking early, credible and binding action to address climate change.
By helping to fund projects through the Carbon Capital Fund, Verdigris Group will be working to offset our carbon emissions while contributing to the health, diversity and productivity of our US National Forest lands. Every $6 contributed to the Fund equals 1 metric ton of CO2 emissions offset. And as we continue to assess our needs with regard to our Sustainability Management Initiative, we absolutely encourage input and feedback from all of our clients, associates, friends and supporters, and we thank all of those involved in our progress toward a greener future!
25. As we continually assess our efforts in developing a model sustainable enterprise, our knowledge-base and experience will persistently drive the progress of our Sustainable Management Initiative toward our goal of being a carbon-neutral business and a model for other organizations to emulate.
Thank you for your interest in our progressive sustainable enterprise!