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Many of our loyal readers will fondly remember TSL’s first post: “Who Knew? The MA Trial Court has a Green Team – and It’s Saving Money.” Almost a full year later, TSL once again touched with Michal O’Loughlin to find out what green efforts are going on at the Massachusetts Trial Court, and as it turns out, the City of Boston.

When we spoke with Michael he let us know about an E-waste program (that the Trial Court has participated in since 2008) run by the City of Boston is only weeks away on Saturday, September 29th. The event, which will be held from 9am to 3pm (rain or shine), at the Bayside Expo Parking Lot at 200 Mt Vernon St, Dorchester, MA. Here you can recycle computers, monitors, televisions, cell phones, microwaves and much more. For more information and a list of what is and is not accepted as e-waste, click here.

TSL has talked about the benefits of recycling e-waste before, but for now, here is a quick refresher:

  • In many instances, computers, laptops, telephones, cell phones, TV’s, inkjet printers and other gadgets can often be refurbished to working condition and given to non-profits or local schools.
  • Everyday appliances are made from materials including plastic and precious metals such as gold and silver, tantalum, mercury, lead and more. Reusing these products rather than making more plastic or mining more metals can significantly impact the environment.
  • According to E-Steward.com, electronics include lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium and brominated flame retardants. If improperly decommissioned, these materials can potentially cause serious health risks to both workers and their communities including cancer, reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption, and many other health problems.

So for law firms and offices or anyone with old electronics lying around that they need to get rid of, save the date for September 29th to make sure you are disposing of your electronic waste properly. Take a hint from the Trial Court. Since participating in the City of Boston’s e-waste program in program 2009, the Court has collected more than 199,000 lbs. of e-wasteand saved more than $276,000 in disposal costs.

Saving the environment while saving money? Sounds like a win-win.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more on the Trial Court’s Green team.

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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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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.

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