Making Sense of Sustainability 2011 / 2012 Report

8 ACROSS
an individual or group potentially affected by the activities of a company or organization; in sustainable business models the term includes financial shareholders as well as those affected by environmental or social factors such as suppliers, consumers, employees, the local community and the natural environment

For Our Business

Planet

Our conviction to improve our environmental sustainability is stronger than ever. As a small, professional services business, our environmental footprint is modest, but we believe everything we can do to use energy and resources efficiently, reduce waste and use less water counts. We strive to make a difference through our internal operations and through our influence as leading practitioners of sustainability. We are committed to complying with all applicable legal environmental requirements and we use industry standards and best practices to guide our operations. We have voluntarily pursued a robust environmental management policy to address our most significant and material impacts—energy, waste and transportation.

An accurate measure of our environmental performance has been impeded partly by access to reliable data, as well as our own resource limitations. In 2013, we will undertake an office-wide audit to measure our energy consumption, waste output and recycling rate and then set absolute and normalized intensity targets over a five year timeframe, and continue to make improvements to realize these goals.

Energy and GHG Emissions

Our carbon footprint is derived primarily from waste consumables and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electricity and gas heat used at our office and from the consumption of transport fuel. We engage in energy conservation by shutting down computers and phantom power sources at the end of each workday, lowering the thermostat in the winter, turning off lights every time we leave a room, and maximizing the use of natural light and passive solar heat whenever possible. We also exchanged office lighting and computer hardware for more efficient units and plan to implement additional solutions to reduce our consumption of energy and fossil fuels.


Figure 1: Annual Electricity Consumption, kWh (kilowatt hours), 2010–2012




Figure 2: Annual Gas Consumption, MCF (thousand cubic feet), 2010–2012




Our year on year consumption trend has been consistent. This is largely a result of maintaining the same office building and having a relatively flat staff headcount over the past three years. The challenge to adapt to climate change and to use lower carbon energy sources presents opportunities to reduce our costs and risks associated with the dependence on fossil fuels, especially coal. BrownFlynn participates in the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) Natural Gas Discount Program through which the natural gas we purchase is partly offset through a blend of renewable gas procurement and carbon offset options. We will consider, in 2013, to use a COSE free energy efficiency assessment (up to a $6,000 value) of our building.

An area of opportunity to reduce our electricity consumption is through plug loads. Plug loads are synonymous with personal electronic devices and office machines drawing power through ordinary electricity plugs. Studies show that plug load demand during unoccupied periods can be as much as 50 percent of that during the period when an office is open for business.

Another goal is to reduce our greenhouse gasses and to mitigate the emissions associated with travel that cannot be avoided. In our business, we accept that travel is necessary, such as trips to meet with clients, attend conferences, or engage with our community leaders and other stakeholders. When feasible, we use teleconferencing and web-enabled presentation options. Not only does this help to reduce our carbon footprint, it provides an opportunity for our employees to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

Waste and Recycling

Minimizing office waste represents an opportunity to make positive environmental impacts. Raising awareness with our employees has encouraged all of us to be more conscious about what gets thrown away. We launched an on-site composting system and we recycle a wide array of materials such as paper, paperboard, plastic, aluminum, glass, batteries and electronic waste. We’ve reduced the amount of waste we produce in the office by switching from paper towels to cloth hand towels and by using silverware and ceramic dinnerware instead of plastic and paper plates.

Water

Water is a more complex issue. While our consumption has been benign relative to our costs and maintaining high sanitary standards, we are conscious of how much water we consume as citizens and the abundant opportunities to conserve and re-use water in our daily lives. Water management is an area we intend to improve over the coming years through heightened awareness, efficiency of use and reporting.

Procurement and Sustainable Supply Chain

In 2012, we made modest progress with our Sustainable Purchasing Policy. We believe our policy provides a clear process for evaluating and selecting products, and will allow us to be more effective in tracking and improving our environmental impact and creating a healthier workplace. We also believe that part of bringing the highest value possible to clients includes choosing local suppliers who understand and respond to environmental and social concerns. We currently select our vendors based on location, cost, and environmental and social performance. We purchase cleaning and landscaping materials with minimal environmental impacts. We also try to buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging that goes to the landfill. With regard to procurement decisions, we prioritize products with the most environmental benefits such as high-recycled content and energy efficiency, and prefer suppliers who share our principles and priorities. We are patronizing hotel franchises and travel companies that actively manage their own impacts and publicly disclose/report (using GRI) their footprint, as well as serve as role models for their customers and industry peers.

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