In 2008, Weidlinger launched a pilot program to apply its sustainability commitment to daily office life. The sustainability committee reviewed current practices and explored available options, implementing the most promising of them. Although the practices that were adopted are neither pioneering nor unique, as good engineers we took a critical approach and favored high benefit and low risk actions.
As a tenant of an Energy Star building, Weidlinger’s New York office is already part of a larger effort to reduce energy and carbon dioxide footprint. The building is one of seven New York recipients of a 2007 Energy Star federal government award, consuming 30% less energy and expending 33% less carbon dioxide than a typical similarly sized building.
Although documents are the end product of engineering services, and sets of drawings still crowd every desk, the firm has begun to reduce paper at all levels. Wherever possible, we have sought to increase cost efficiency and provide motivators for the adoption of new green habits, creating metrics to track results. As data are collected, we will continue to review the available options and explore new ways to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint.
Except for foodstuffs, recycling of all waste in several categories was encouraged.
A training session was held to encourage employees to learn the finer points of office recycling, which differs from more limited home recycling in NYC. Attractive reminder signs and extra recycling bins were provided to encourage participation.
To reduce plastics consumption, we researched alternatives and eventually switched without hardship to biodegradable products such as paper plates, wooden stirrers, and paper towels made from 100% post-consumer content.
The cleaning company agreed to adopt the eco-friendly products we suggested and for the most part were satisfied with the results.
Paper waste reduction
All duplex-capable printers were reset to print on both sides of the paper as default.
A friendly eco-message that prompts the receiver to think twice before printing is now appended to all emails.
Ceramic cups with the firm logo were distributed to all employees.
All employees were encouraged to return paycheck envelopes for reuse.
The volume of printer paper and paper cups purchased monthly is being tracked, as well as any change in the amount of recycled shredded paper.
Conversion to 100% recycled copy paper is currently being assessed.
Employees were encouraged to eliminate phantom power by turning off unused lights and electronics. (All computers and monitors were already Energy-Star compliant.)
We joined the recycling program established by Coffee Distribution Corporation and Covanta, which converts our single-cup coffee waste into energy by combustion.