You’ve probably heard about the Massachusetts Trial Courts funding woes. Court closings, shortened hours and lack of staff sparks angst among lawyers across Commonwealth. But you probably haven’t heard about the Trial Court’s EPA honored “Green Team,” a group of trial court staffers dedicated to greening the court system. If you asked “how can the courts afford that?” you’re in for a surprise — the “Green Team” operates on a $0 budget — and it gets even better.
The Sustainable Lawyer spoke with “Green Team” leaders Michael C. O’Loughlin and Linda Rowe. You won’t believe what we found out.
The Trial Court, led by the “Green Team,” is:
- Participating in an e-waste recycling program (e-waste is an informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their useful life) with the City of Boston to recycle computers, televisions, VCRs, copiers, fax machines and the like, all of which can be reused, refurbished or recycled (did you know that?). From FY 2008-2012, the Trial Court collected over 124,000 lbs. of e-waste, saving $174,000 in disposal costs.
- Making recycling easier by ensuring there is a recycling bin next to every trash can. Sounds expensive, right? Wrong. When the “Green Team” told their supplier the purchase was part of a green initiative, they knocked the price down by 75%. Every Trial Court participates in single-stream recycling (that means paper, bottles, tin cans, glass, and everything else that is recyclable all goes into one bin). Eighty tons of material was recycled in 6 months — saving an estimated 1,425 trees, 587,088 gallons of water and 419 cubic yards of waste diverted from landfills.
- Completing energy audits in 17 state owned courthouses, which will improve energy efficiency. Wondering what an energy audit is? Find out here.
- Launching a paper reduction effort. Each day, 115,832 pages are printed across the Trial Court. Now, all documents are printed double sided, and reminders are issued for documents of more than forty pages. If your document is more than 500 pages, you’ll need approval from IT before you can print. Early estimates have the paper reduction effort saving over $500,000.
- Turning off equipment when it’s not being used. Seems obvious, right? Did you know it reduces energy usage 25%? When you factor in turning off computers at the end of the day, that number jumps to 50%.
Still not impressed? Check out this bottom line:
The Trial Court saved $2.9 million in FY 2009. That’s $2,136,143 in electricity, $362,327 in steam, $210,382 in natural gas, $99,122 in heating oil and $96,026.
They followed that up with an additional $2.5 million saved in FY 2010.
“This isn’t groundbreaking stuff,” Michael told The Sustainable Lawyer. “Our commitment to green initiatives lessens our impact on the environment, and saves money. By doing a few small things every day we were able to make a big impact on our bottom line.”
After all, Linda said, “green business is good business.”
…You got that right.