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Eastside Firm Rolling with the Green Wave

Check out current sustainable trends in this global corporate company's, local office. Also spotlighting its LEED-certified building location.

The sustainable efforts of the Bellevue office of HDR is supported by both its global corporate company, HDR, Inc. and its building property managing group, Wright Runstad and Company.

HDR is a service company in many areas including, architecture, engineering and consulting with the modo "One Company Many Solutions." The local office occupies the entire 12th floor and parts of the 11th and fourth floor of the City Center Building in downtown Bellevue.

HDR has been a progressive green office for many years with an official green team starting in 2008. Since then, they have piloted green programs for Wright Runstad and the City of Bellevue. At the heart of these efforts is HDR Green Champion, Cil Pierce. When not wearing the hat for this role, she's in the team of her company that provides financial services and rate setting for public utilities.

Building manager support  

The view of being green has changed over the years for HDR. The efforts started small and from volunteer effort. Soon they were asking Wright Runstad for more recycling options, which were then provided. "We are so lucky to have them as building managers," Pierce said. "Initially, they had recycling centers for us in one central area, now they have them at each office's desk and each conference room." Next, they asked Wright Runstad, what about food scrap recycling?

Just before 2010, and in preparation for Wright Runstad to become LEED certified, the office became the "guinea pigs" to try out a food scrap recycling program.  It went well, and soon the program was being offered to all tenants in the building. Also about this time, light sensors, were going in all the offices, conference rooms and restrooms. In addition to the this being a LEED certification requirement, it was a "cost-saving measure," Pierce said.

During the interview, the property administrator Nicole Twohig, came down to show us where the output of the recycling goes. Along with regular recycling and food scrap recycling, through the 1 green planet company they recycle just about everything that is recyclable. Twohig also talked about their Green Fair coming up the Friday before Earthday. This is an annual fair for the tenants and public (non-advertised), where the vendors like Landscaping and Facility come and share what green practices and products they use. She said this is related to the LEED certification program.

Wright Runstad has joined HDR and so far 70 other Eastside businesses in the 2012 Eastside Green Business Challenge. Twohig and Pierce commented that their teams are both currently filling out the initial survey to create their baseline and starting tier level.

Before looking at what top-down support HDR, Inc. is providing for HDR Bellevue office, here are some of the Sustainable measures currently in operations.

  • Green Team—meets monthly
  • Paper—Since the 2008/2009 corporate policy changes, they have been using 30 percent post-consumer based paper as their standard. The default setting on printers is for double-sided printing.
  • Remodeling—From a recent remodel, sustainable building was kept in mind; for example, the partitions in the walls are from recycled content.
  • Computers—Screens are set to turn off after 5 minutes of being in stand-by.
  • Zero-Waste Stream—"Reduced waste stream to the point that everything that can be recycled is recycled and anything that can not be is just trash, things that can not be repurposed," Pierce said.

And most recently, HDR participated in the October 2011 City of Bellevue Waste Reduction Challenge. Pierce said this involved weighing trash and recyclables a week in advance to establish a baseline, and then periodically weighing them during the month of the challenge and again at the end.

They had a speaker come out for employee education and engagement prior to the challenge week. Even with some variables (somewhat to their disadvantage, i.e. more employees out of the office during baseline week than challenge week), HDR employees were able to reduce waste output. Pierce laughs at how she would come to the office early, to cart down the bags before other employees had shown up to work for the day and could see her.  

Top-down support

Where before the green team's projects were based on interests of each office and voluntary, it has recently become a recognized role by HDR, Inc.  Clients are now requesting green house gas reports for their requirements.  And thus, Pierce said "More resources are being focused into these green projects."

Pierce also pointed out that HDR's chief executive is renewing the company's focus on sustainability—both in the office and with client projects. For office operations: "They decided each office with 50 employees or more would have a green team. All offices would have a green champion."  Some of the local smaller companies green champions call into her green team meetings.  For more information on the sustainable element in projects, visit HDR, Inc.'s website here.

This is great for the environment, it is also great for HDR's bottom line, or any companies bottom line for that matter. From the recent launch of the Eastside Green Business Challenge, Pierce brought up part of guest speaker's Hunter Lovins' talk.  Paraphrasing Lovins from memory, Pierce said, "If a business reduces water and energy use and saves money, it only makes sense to save money. And at the same time that also is saving resources. The environment is a side-benefit."

Green Champion profile

Pierce said this idea of sustainability came early for her. The philosophy "Waste Not, Want Not" was engrained in her as a youth. Somewhere between the ages of 7 and 9, her mom would have her sibling and friends go around with a wagon, as the "clean-up club." She spent a ton of time in nature as a kid, too. There was a ravine close to her home, where the neighborhood kids would hang out and watch the frogs and salamanders. Now her office photo board is filled with kayaking and other outdoor pictures from her family's NW outings. She has been at sustainable initiatives for awhile now, and on her office shelf is a recycled glass plaque showing from 1989-1993, Pierce as a Commissioner for the King County Commission for Marketing Recyclable Materials.  

Also displayed in Pierces office is the 2010 Best Workplace for Recycling and Waste Reduction.  She said "This marks the 5th year for HDR to awarded this title. We are now on the honor roll!" 

For HDR Bellevue, the efforts started small with a only a monthly green team meeting in the beginning. Now that sustainability is becoming a big name in business, they already have the momentum (including corporate and building manager support) and awareness going to invite some of the most current trends into their office operations and projects. It may just be good environmental practices, it may just be good business sense, or it may just be what we heard growing up, "Waste not, want not." If we don't waste what we have, we will still have it in the future and thus will not lack it (to want it). It's a win-win-win situation.

For more pictures pertaining to this article, visit Darsi Fouillade's blog here.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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