Since fall of 2014, PEC’s Southwest office has been competing in the Green Workplace Challenge, a friendly competition among employers of all sizes and sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through sustainability efforts. The Challenge was established in 2012 by Sustainable Pittsburgh.
We are thrilled to announce that we are in third place in the micro non-profit division. Woo-hoo!
So what are we doing to earn points? We are tracking our utility bills in EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. This is an incredibly useful, and free, tool for measuring and tracking energy use.
We’ve also earned points for reducing waste in the office by limiting the use of disposable items. For example, all PEC employees have received reusable coffee mugs and we also use ceramic mugs for guests to the office. We’ve replaced our water cooler with a reusable water filtration pitcher. In the kitchen and restroom, we’ve replaced our paper towels with hand towels that employees take home and wash each week. By making this easy change, we’ve drastically reduced our use of paper towels. Before the change, our restroom used 2-3 rolls (100 sheets each) per week. Now, one roll lasts two-three weeks. This equates to a savings of more than 3,000 sheets per month, in addition to necessitating fewer orders and deliveries from our office supply provider.
Switching to an electronic format for our newsletter has also earned us points, while simultaneously giving us an easier way to keep our members, volunteers, and partners up-to-date on our work. (If you aren’t already receiving it, sign up here.)
As you might have noticed, most of these changes also save money, meaning more of our resources are able to go towards programs that enhance and restore Pennsylvania’s environment.
While we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, we’re focused on what we can do next.
In the summer of 2014, we began purchasing our electricity from 100 percent renewable energy and we anticipate receiving points for this action later in the summer. This is an especially significant change, as the City’s greenhouse gas inventory has shown that electricity use in this region is the most significant contributor to climate change.
Please consider making the switch to renewable energy for your home or business. Compare providers at www.papowerswitch.com, and feel free to contact me if you have questions. (I may not know the answer, but I bet I can find someone does!)
Stay tuned for updates on our progress, check out the Green Workplace Challenge leaderboard to see how we rank against our competitors, and feel free to contact us if you’re interested in learning more about what you can do to go green at your business, school, church, or home.