The Sustainable Lawyer is always on the lookout for green initiatives and projects to highlight. So, when we heard about A Better City’s “Challenge for Sustainability,” we were intrigued. Once we saw the list of committed companies and organizations (including 4 BBA Sponsor Firms, Foley Hoag, Nixon Peabody, Nutter McClennen & Fish and WilmerHale), we were even more curious. What is the challenge? How does it work? What is the point? The Sustainable Lawyer touched based with A Better City’s Sustainability Coordinator Megan Ramey to see what they have up their sleeves.
In case you haven’t heard of A Better City (ABC), here’s some quick info: ABC is a nonprofit membership organization that provides business and institutional leadership on transportation, land development and public infrastructure investments vital to sustaining and improving the Boston area’s quality of life. ABC’s Board of Directors is made up of leaders from more than 100 major business and institutions in Greater Boston.
One way ABC accomplishes their goal is through the “Challenge for Sustainability,” a program designed for businesses to identify areas of improvement, benchmark their facilities, share best practices and implement strategic plans toward environmental sustainability. ABC works with organizations to meet a broad range of sustainability standards and practices, including increasing energy efficiency, reducing resource consumption, decreasing solid waste, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
That all sounds great, but how about a practical, real life example? One of the BBA’s Sponsor Firms, Nutter McClennen & Fish (who joined the Challenge in its 2010 pilot year), filled out a scorecard to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. They worked with ABC to implement a number of new projects including a food composting program; a “green” pledge for employees; distributing more “green” chairs and holding a fair to highlight alternative public transportation options. The results of their recycling efforts alone are impressive:
- Compostable Waste: 205,124 lbs of food waste, shredded paper and paper
- Recyclable Waste: 50,622 lbs of single stream (aluminum, paper, plastic) and cardboard.
- Solid Waste (Other): 5,627 lbs of lamps, ballasts, batteries, and construction waste.
- Miscellaneous: 388 pieces of obsolete electronics equipment
Our friends at Nixon Peabody, who joined the program in 2011 (stats will be out in early 2012) have worked with ABC to implement some progressive practices, including:
- Quarterly audits to track office-based compliance with its firm-wide commitments.
- Developing an on-line system to facilitate reporting and use of the data collected.
- Creating an on-line “Legally Green Pledge.” The Pledge is an interactive educational tool that helps Nixon to make simple, personal commitments. Office participation rates are at 68 percent.
- Organizing an outreach program to help personnel take advantage of free energy assessments and other savings available through the MassSave and Renew Boston programs.
- Working with Equity Office to coordinate an NSTAR energy assessment for its Boston space.
Want to share your firm or businesses ABC results? Sound off below!