Last week at greenscreen®, we found out that the application for the International Parking Institute (IPI) Green Star Exhibitor program had been approved by the IPI Sustainability Committee! While this is great news as we prepare to head to Nashville for the world’s largest parking conference and expo, it got us thinking about how to really tell our sustainability story. Sustainability is a word that gets thrown around a lot by product manufacturers (and the design industry in general), but at greenscreen® it is something that we take seriously and incorporate every day into how we do business. Without going too far down the sustainability rabbit hole, here is our basic 5 step sustainability plan:
Step #1: Commitment
Sustainability isn’t just something that we do, it is something that we are! Whether it is something as simple as an office recycling program or a little more complex like an ISO 14040/44 compliant Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), we are committed to looking at the effects that we have in our little corner. In 2010, greenscreen® formalized this commitment by making publicly available our Environmental Statement. This statement is one side of our “green” coin and the other is transparency. Making sustainability information available, easy to find and understandable is incredibly important and we find this is a great way to keep our team and customers involved and up to date on the latest trends.
Step #2: Keep Up
Sustainability is like technology and once you have committed to making this a part of your business, it is important to keep up. Sustainability is also a moving target! There are always new benchmarks and keeping up to figure out what is important or where to spend resources can be a challenge. For example, in 2012 we had just finished completing the third party verified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) models and report as a component for completing an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). The design market shifted its sustainability requirements and started to require Health Product Declarations (HPDs) as a new product ingredient transparency standard. Yes Virginia, it is very much an alphabet soup! The Health Product Declaration® is a standard format for reporting product content and associated health information for building products and materials. In 2014, we decided to put the pursuit of a completed EPD on the back burner and pivoted towards completing the HPD®. The greenscreen® HPD was completed in 2015 and we make it available on our website. Bottom line is that sustainability isn’t something that you do and then put on your wall like a plaque. To greenscreen® it is something that requires commitment, knowledge, resources and maintenance.
Step #3: Third Parties
Partnering with third parties for verification of sustainability claims is essential. In this day and age of the World Wide Web, anybody can say just about anything and for the most part get away with it! We didn’t want this to be the case and are very aware of the potential for “greenwashing”. Every sustainability claim that greenscreen® makes or benchmark that we complete is always third party verified. Third party verification information is included on the Life Cycle Assessment and on our HPD, so that there is full disclosure and transparency. Need a picture break? Here is a project that greenscreen® was included on in Portland, OR called Gray’s Landing that is certified LEED Platinum. Designed by Ankrom Moisan Architects, Gray’s Landing is an affordable housing, mixed use development that does some pretty cool things with rainwater!
Ok, back to the list…
Step #4: Two Pronged Approach
Our sustainability efforts are focused on two things; our products and our company. It just didn’t make sense for us to do one without the other. We have already mentioned some of the things that we have done with the products, but one thing that we did for the company was to complete a third party corporate audit. The MindClick SGM 360° Corporate Audit is a comprehensive look at corporate sustainability benchmarks and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) performance. Completed in 2010, we took an in depth look at corporate energy use, water use, waste generation and carbon footprint. This led us to expand our in-house recycling program and to incorporate rainwater harvesting at our headquarters. Below is just one of the two 600 gallon rainwater harvesting tanks that we have to irrigate our planters out back. Most importantly, the corporate audit provided us with benchmarks that we can use in the future to ensure that as a company we are moving in the right direction!
Step #5: Community
Sustainability isn’t just about us! There is a component to sustainability called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that unfortunately seems to get lost in all of the sustainability mumbo jumbo. This part is really important and actually something that we have fun with. Whether members of the greenscreen® team are volunteering with professional organizations such as USGBC, ASLA and others or whether they are helping build a community garden like the one below in El Monte, we realize that this is a important part of being good stewards. Supporting like minded organizations and not-for-profits that do good work helps to bring communities together and we are always on the look out for ways to become involved. Our team is very excited to have Greenbuild in Los Angeles this year and they have been very busy volunteering to make sure that no one goes away disappointed!