Home Back Issues June 2010 The green edge: Workplaces embrace sustainability

The green edge: Workplaces embrace sustainability

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Article Index
The green edge: Workplaces embrace sustainability
Green Edge, p.2

The 100 Best Green Companies to Work For are doing whatever it takes to
improve workplace sustainability: cutting waste, buying bikes, even Dumpster diving.

STORY BY AMANDA WALDROUPE // PHOTOS BY ANTHONY PIDGEON
0610_GreenCos01
0610_GreenCos02
0610_GreenCos03
Neil Kelly CEO Tom Kelly has been a longtime leader in Oregon’s green building sector.
Recycling is so passé. All of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon are doing it — making sure paper, plastic, metal and any other recyclable material ends up in the blue bin and not the trash can. Many employees are even willing to reprimand their co-workers over matters of waste disposal, and when necessary, Dumpster dive.

Suzie Atkin is one of those green knights. Atkin, a designer for Neil Kelly, which ranked No. 9 on this year’s list, readily admits to reaching into the compost bin to grab something recyclable. It comes down to awareness, she says. Atkin would know. She’s a member of Neil Kelly’s “green team,” a group of employees charged with making their workplace more sustainable. Two things stuck out to Atkin about making that a reality: the low-hanging fruit and getting people to follow through.

“It’s been a constant education and learning process for everyone,” she says.

Those low-hanging fruits have been picked at Neil Kelly, along with some high-hanging morsels as well. Half the lights are permanently off throughout company headquarters. Low-flow toilets conserve energy and water. Outside, a Zipcar sits in the parking lot. In the back, an old biodiesel tank used to fuel company cars harkens back to earlier green efforts.

Other winners from our 100 Best are switching to green cleaners, compact fluorescent bulbs, and programmable thermostats; they are investing in solar panels, upgrading their buildings to meet LEED standards, cutting down their waste streams, buying bikes for loyal commuters, giving allowances to employees who buy hybrid cars, and thinking of new ways to overcome challenges presented by equipment, costs and other constraints.

Over 26,000 employees from 503 Oregon companies and nonprofits completed the surveys on which the 2010 rankings are based, rating their satisfaction with and the importance of their company’s sustainable practices. Companies also provided a report detailing their green efforts.

Oregon’s entire business community, in terms of geography and industry sector, is represented. Newbie businesses energetically committed to green ideals join businesses with long traditions of incorporating sustainability in the workplace.

And they are going beyond the ordinary and expected, even though finding fresh ways to be sustainable can be just as difficult as cutting costs and finding a profit in this economy. To be a sustainable business in Oregon means thinking creatively, investing in your values, and above all, listening to the employees. For the most part, that’s where the ideas come from.


Central Point-based cheese making company Rogue Creamery (No. 22) used to generate two garbage bags full of wax every day. The wax is used to store aging cheese, and it can’t be cleaned or used again. Kristine DeMaria, a quality assurance manager at Rogue Creamery, spearheads the company’s sustainability efforts. She says finding a way to reuse the wax was an obvious goal. DeMaria and her colleagues started by looking for a candle maker. They never found one, but they did find a manufacturing company who has taken the wax and put it to use. That cut their waste stream by 30%.

Click through for page two!
Want to make a comment? Please go to the final page.

 



 

More Articles

Closing the gap: Community colleges and workforce training

News
Thursday, March 27, 2014
03.27.14 thumb collegeBY MARY SPILDE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Community college career, technical and workforce programs present an opportunity to bring business and education together as never before.


Read more...

Revolution in print, pixels and passion

News
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
RyanFrankNewsBY MARK BLAINE | OB BLOGGER

The publisher of the Emerald Media Group moves on, leaving a cutting edge media group that depends on business acumen for its survival.


Read more...

Video: Kickstarting Oregon business

News
Thursday, March 27, 2014
02.04.14 Thumbnail VideoBY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR

Watch this OB Original Video about three Oregon companies and how crowd-funding "kickstarted" their business ideas.


Read more...

Fuel's gold

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY SOPHIA BENNETT

The coastal town of Coos Bay appears poised to land every economic development director’s dream: a single employer that will bring hundreds of family-wage jobs and millions in tax revenue. 


Read more...

Eking out a living

News
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
04.08.14 thumb ourtable-coopfarmsBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 34 Medium Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...

The future of money

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JAKE THOMAS

An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS