May 21, 2007:
At Conservation International headquarters, we do our best to practice what we preach.
Every day, we make improvements to our building and lifestyles that exemplify our mission to conserve Earth's living heritage and to demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature.
At the office, we take the old reduce, reuse, and recycle adage above and beyond. Our Greening CI program establishes environmentally sensitive goals and parameters for paper use, energy consumption, travel, purchasing, and meetings and events.
A spring 2006 report from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sustainable Construction and Building Initiative found that even the small steps we take to reduce energy use in buildings go a long way in curbing climate change.
Here are just a few of the steps we took while relocating CI headquarters to Arlington, Virginia earlier this year:
Sustainability was an immediate priority, and renovating an existing building rather than building a new one was the first step in that direction. CIs contractors diverted 75 percent of demolition and construction waste away from landfills for reuse or recycling. Our floors, walls, and countertops reveal a commitment to recycled materials; some 35 percent of materials used to finish our space contain recycled elements, with 9 percent coming from post-consumer material. We also reused 80 percent of the furnishings from our previous building. Most employers reuse only a third of their furnishings when they move.
||Choose low and no-emitting materials|
CI sets the bar high when it comes to indoor environmental quality. All paints, coatings, carpets, adhesives, and furniture in our new office are low- or no-emitting materials.
||Use water efficiently|
To reduce water consumption by 80 percent, we requested that our building management install aerators on restroom faucets a recommendation they eventually employed in restrooms throughout its five-building office park.
We installed daylight-responsive controls on all ceiling light fixtures within 15 feet of a window. The controls automatically adjust the light level and energy consumption to complement the level of daylight available.
Beginning in July 2006, CI also decided to procure green power certificates for our annual electricity consumption through an e-certified green power provider. We continue to offset the rest of our carbon footprint through land-based conservation carbon projects. The previous year, we offset greenhouse gas emissions of roughly 16,400 tons of CO2 by investing in the Makira Forest project in Madagascar.
In working to protect the worlds most threatened places, the simple things we do to conserve resources make a difference. CI continues to "green" our office environment and is in the process of obtaining LEED certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This is the U.S. Green Building Councils voluntary national standard for developing high-performance sustainable buildings.