LEED certification may be the obvious path to help a nonprofit achieve an environmentally-friendly new building – many architects are now experienced in the process. But, what can you do with an existing building? Michael Jaffe has provided many of the tips listed below that he has compiled through his personal and professional experiences. Not every idea will be applicable to your situation, but all of them should jump start your thinking about how you can reduce your environmental footprint.
The First Steps:
Step 1: Evaluate recent years for electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and paper usage throughout your institution.
Step 2: Ensure detailed and systematic monitoring for the coming year.
Step 3: Set quantifiable, attainable goals. Goals could include:
* Aim towards decreasing use of electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and paper.
* Maximize email vs. printed materials.
* Encourage double-sided printing.
* Encourage energy efficiency with computers and printers including turning off and unplugging equipment at the end of the day when possible.
* Paint all roofs white to reduce air conditioning costs.
* Separate cooking oil to be picked up for use as biofuel.
* Recycle printer cartridges.
* Install energy-efficient light bulbs, sensors to turn off lights (motion detectors), and temperature controls.
* Consider whether current and future vendors are environmentally responsible- what are their practices when it comes to packaging, manufacturing practices, and distribution.
* Garbage: minimize output. Maximize recycling.
* Investigate whether pesticides and insecticides are currently being used as well as alternative solutions.
* Investigate composting in kitchens and outdoor areas.
Step 4: Create an environmental newsletter – delivered by email — highlighting one goal in each issue, the reasoning behind it, and its impact on the environment. This should then be sent out on a regular basis to all staff, volunteers and lay-leadership serving as a reminder of the organization’s goals as well as a statement on how each step does impact the environment.
These are only the first of many steps. We will keep you informed with new tips on a regular basis, but in the meantime – what can you do to improve your world?