Archive for January, 2012

In the professional world, sometimes driving is a necessity. But owning a car can be expensive and inconvenient, especially when the price of parking, insurance and gas is factored in. And let’s be honest, owning a car can translate into more miles driven, and a bigger carbon footprint.

Earlier this year The Sustainable Lawyer read an article in the Boston Globe about Boston Bar Foundation Society of Fellows Committee Co-Chair Jane Willis (Ropes & Gray) and her husband (MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey) who donated their car to use public transportation and the car sharing service, Zipcar. This got TSL wondering if any other lawyers in the Hub use Zipcar, and whether they believe it fosters sustainability. Fortunately for us, tracking down lawyers who use the service was pretty easy.

Before we get started, he’s a quick rundown on Zipcar:

Zipcar is a car sharing service founded in January 2000 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After signing up, (one time $25 fee) members pick the car of their choice (availability varies by location) online using a computer or smartphone, select the hourly rate or daily option, and off they go. Gas is included (and members are reimbursed for places that don’t accept the card) and there is a 180 mile maximum for 24 hours.

We caught up with three attorneys, Christopher Strang (Desmond Strang & Scott), Colin Van Dyke (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo) and Aaron Agulnek (Jewish Community Relations Council) and asked them the most simple question we could…why do you use Zipcar?

Colin: We’re a one-car household and Zipcar allows me to get to hearings and client meetings outside of Boston without inconveniencing my wife and kids. The process is simple and the cars are more conveniently located than rentals; for example, I can reserve a car near my house, in the garage beneath our office building, or near a meeting from which I need to leave to get (and drive) to another. Zipcar is typically far less expensive and, again, more convenient than using taxis. Plus, Mintz Levin now provides a Zipcar benefit that reduces the costs of my annual membership and the hourly rates. Still, it’s driving a car, the environmental impact of which is the same whether it’s my car or a Zipcar, but I suspect that if we had a second car I would drive more often, so Zipcar allows me to keep my time behind the wheel to a minimum.

Chris: The main reason I use Zipcar is to not have to deal with parking in the city. I use Zipcar for things like short court appearances outside of Boston, and for client meetings at their offices.  The added bonus is only using the car when absolutely necessary, and using more environmentally friendly transportation to and from work.

Aaron: “I work for a non-profit organization and we have a Zipcar that the staff can utilize for meetings that are outside of public transportation zones.  It clearly makes sense from an economic and convenience perspective, but we also come at it from an environmental perspective.  Our organization is committed to environmental justice and the Zipcar provides a tangible way for us to make a difference.”

Sometimes, the  impact (or the lack thereof) matters more than motivation.

And yes, they offer hybrids.

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The Sustainable Lawyer loves shining the spotlight on firms and organizations that have built or renovated green office space. TSL has especially fond memories of touring the Environmental Protection Agency’s new office space back in 2010 — providing numerous examples of sustainability at work. Earlier this week TSL reached out to BBA Environmental Sustainability Task Force member Cynthia A. Lewis, Senior Enforcement Counsel at US EPA, Region 1. She was only too glad to provide us with all the facts and figures on the John W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse (POCH) renovation, an effort of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the EPA.

The EPA is the primary tenant at the courthouse, and occupies about 329,000 rentable square feet of the approximately 700,000 gross square feet. The 23 story building, built in 1933, houses 840 EPA employees who reoccupied the space in August 2009 after a three year construction contract. The green features in the new building are extensive, and the results speak for themselves.

When building, the EPA and GSA:

  • Reused 99 percent of the historical structure.
  • Preserved interior features such as historical paneling, walnut wainscoting, terrazzo floors with marble inlay, and oak parquet floors.
  • Recycled and diverted from landfills 149.5 tons of construction debris, bringing the percentage of material recycled to 84.93%. This includes 6.17 tons of concrete, 8.59 tons of metal, and 19.26 tons of wood.
  • Used low-emitting construction materials such as paint, carpeting, and composite wood.
  • Used post-consumer recycled product used for many new installed finishes, steel and concrete

The results of the project are:

  • Approximately 70 percent of the occupied space receives natural light
  • To encourage alternative modes of transportation, the McCormack POCH offers 50 bike racks and 10 showers.
  • New plumbing fixtures reduce estimated water consumption by 642,000 gallons per year, which is 32% over code requirements.
  • Energy-efficiency components such as variable-speed drives for fans and pumps, motion sensors and daylight dimming for lighting, and new insulated double-pane, low-e windows.
  • The EPA offsets 100 percent of the electricity in the building with renewable energy certificates (REC’s) purchased through the Agency’s current blanket green power contract.

The project also included a special feature, a green roof, that:

  • Is the first of its kind in New England
  • Uses solar panels to power the irrigation pumps and cisterns collect rain water to irrigate the plantings
  • Encompasses more than 25% of the building footprint, providing an important open space for the building users.
  • The green roof is planted with native species and after establishment and requires little irrigation.

Though not everybody can commit to this level of sustainably while building or renovating, TSL tips its cap to the EPA and GSA for making sustainability its first priority.
To view photos from the BBA’s 2010 tour of the new EPA building, click here.

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The Boston Bar Association is a busy place. In Op Year 2011, the BBA held 385 Brown Bag programs and 50 CLE’s. Combined with meetings of leadership, steering committees, the Boston Bar Foundation and outside space use, the BBA held a total of 2,269 total meetings, with more than 17,000 people coming through the doors of its 16 Beacon Street headquarters. Early estimates point to higher rates for Op Year 2012.

As you may remember, The Sustainable Lawyer (TSL) recently highlighted some ways that the BBA is going green as far as saving money on electric and heating bills (thanks to an energy audit the BBA requested). Recently, the BBA has taken another step towards sustainability by participating in “Grounds to Grow On,” an initiative of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.

How did the BBA find out about the program? As part of the BBA’s ongoing effort to be more sustainable, Office Manager Patti Mazurkiewicz wrote to both Keurig and W.B. Mason to inquire if their K-Cups were recyclable. Both directed her to Green Mountain’s “Grounds to Grow On” program. Patti found out more when she checked out the W.B. Mason Trade Show, where she spoke to a representative about starting up the program at 16 Beacon.

Essentially, it works like this:

  • Used K-Cups are placed in Keurig “recovery bins” (which are made of 75% recyclable material, ship in packs of 5 and can be reused up to 15 times). Small recovery bins can fit 175 cups; large bins can fit 450. More information on purchasing recovery bins can be found here.
  • Once full, the recovery bins are sent back to Keurig’s disposal partner through UPS’s Carbon Neutral Program (the price of the recovery bins includes shipping). Each recovery bin arrives with UPS shipping label pre-affixed, so you can call UPS for a pickup, or give the used boxes to your UPS delivery person.
  • The recovered cups are separated into two parts, the coffee grounds and “everything else.” The grounds, which are 75% of the weight of the K-Cup, are converted to compost. The rest of the pack is burned to produce steam energy by Keurig partner Covanta energy. Creating energy from waste (EfW) is one of the cleanest forms of energy generation, is EPA approved, and is classified as renewable energy by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“We have estimated our annual usage of K-Cups at about 9,000 per year,” said Mazurkiewicz. “Grounds to Grow On permits the BBA to (1) prevent that amount of waste from end up in landfills, and (2) turn that waste into usable energy. The environmental benefit far outweighs the economic commitment, so we jumped at the opportunity. “

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Recently our friends at Nutter McClennen & Fish let The Sustainable Lawyer (TSL) know they recently finished renovating their 4 floors of office space at their 155 Seaport Boulevard HQ. Nutter was committed to keeping the entire renovation process (including the temporary move) as green as possible, and the results speak for themselves. Nutter set goals to create a greener space, worked with their architect to make sure he was aware of their goals at every turn, took advantage of available energy savings in computers, lighting and appliances and looked for opportunities to accomplish greener results for the same or similar pricing wherever possible. They also were committed to selecting used products and integrating them with new items purchased (that met their green parameters). Nutter sent along some impressive pre and post renovation statistics to TSL, and we are happy to share them with you.

Nutter’s move was pretty daunting. They had each floor move to a temporary swing space while the renovations were being completed. Prior to that temporary move, they had “purging” days where staff took time out of their busy schedules to return items to their proper place, identify items that could be reused, and recycle those that could not. It was worth it. In total:

  • 75 books were returned to their library
  • 70 (65 gallon) bins of shredded paper were recycled
  • 6,445 boxes were sent to offsite storage
  • 40,000 files were reorganized
  • 800 binders, 700 hanging files and 500 pens and pencils were recaptured

When the actual move took place, it’s not surprising that Nutter stayed committed to their green efforts. No cartons or cardboard boxes here, Nutter used 980 crates and 455 carts for all the entire move, saving an estimated 8,444 corrugated cartons.

Nutter’s goals for the renovations were fairly standard. They wanted to refresh their design, update cabling, add larger conference space, create a new kitchen and café, expand their gym (ok, so maybe not ALL of it was standard), create satellite libraries for practice group areas and introduce new technology such as teleconferencing.

All in all, it doesn’t seem like changes that would result in drastic savings, right? Wrong. Let’s take a look.


  • Chose to remain in their existing space which saved over 50% of their built environment and all of the attorney office furniture. This saved:
    1. 115,000 lbs of construction waste from landfills
    2. 67,700 lbs of furniture waste from landfills
    3. 60K square feet of drywall,  equal to 1.5 acres
    4. 35, 190 linear feet of metal studs, equal to 6.7 miles
    5. approximately 16.3 miles of electrical cable
  • Reduced the overall energy on two public floors by 23%, saving 16,875 watts/hr of energy, which totals  42,000 kilowatts savings annually
  • Reused over 180 doors and 160 frames, translating into almost 10K square feet of wood veneer and almost a mile of aluminum frame.
  • Reused over an acre of ceiling tile and grid
  • Reused almost 1000 lf of metal files and bookshelves
  • Reused and repurposed existing furniture
  • Used carpet tile (which contains 18%-44% recycled content and is CRI Green Label Plus Certified) to cut down on waste and make it easier to replace

One of TSL’s major objectives is to show that “going green” isn’t just about helping the environment, but demonstrating that it makes good business sense and can save a considerable amount of money. Thanks, Nutter McClennen & Fish. You’re making our job easier.

If your firm or office is in need of renovations, it’s a great time to see if “going green” can save you some cash. It worked for Nutter.

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