The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties Nonprofits Going Green program aims to raise the awareness, capacity and motivation within nonprofits in Palm Beach and Martin Counties to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations. The following is a guide and list of tips and resources that we developed to help you advance your organization’s sustainability efforts. You may enter the steps at different points depending on where your organization is in its efforts. Do not be discouraged or intimidated by the length of this list. These suggestions are to be taken one step at a time, implementing those that are easiest and biggest cost savers first.
Steps to Going Green
STEP ONE: Seek Support from Leadership and Assemble a Green Team
The initial impetus to start green management practices can come from employees, clients, funders, board members, and/or CEOs.
However, to effectively carry out organization-wide changes, CEO and potentially, Board support is extremely helpful. Consider having the CEO appoint a green team to plan and lead the implementation of your organization’s greening process. Also consider asking the Board to formally endorse the environmental sustainability goals you establish. Make the business case to build support.
STEP TWO: Establish a Baseline
Measure current rates of consumption and waste generation.
Utility bills, purchase orders and waste audits can give you an understanding of your average annual and monthly energy, water, paper and other consumption and waste generation. Assembling this baseline will enable you to assess the impact of your efforts to reduce your organization’s environmental impact. Read more about the sample waste audit.
Determine staff support – involve the whole organization.
You know how best to motivate and remind staff to incorporate sustainable practices and identify opportunities for saving resources and reducing waste. Some methods include: staff meeting discussions or presentations, employee reference materials, emails, training programs, incorporating into job descriptions and performance appraisals, signage.
Your organization may have unique opportunities to change its practices and save money, attract positive attention, and/or raise money (e.g., building in need of repair, grant opportunities, fundraising event, program development)
STEP THREE: Set Goals and Develop an Action Plan
Set measurable and attainable goals.
Identify the steps for achieving those goals. Work on plan in stages; start with the low hanging fruit. The plan can be organized by a combination of physical spaces within your organization (e.g., offices, kitchen, meeting area), by departments (e.g., program, development, communications, operations), and by resource/waste (e.g., electricity, paper use, water, transportation). Refer to the following list of tips and resources and select those that you can implement within a month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 3 years.
STEP FOUR: Implement the Plan
STEP FIVE: Monitor and Evaluate Progress
Revisit plan on a regular basis to monitor progress on action steps and gather data to monitor results of those actions. (e.g., using utility bills, waste audits, purchase order summaries, employee surveys).
STEP SIX: Communicate success
To your employees, funders, professional networks and clients. Find the unique and innovative angle for the general media coverage.
2009 Green Contest Winner Tip:
Steps to Going Green: Tip from Planned Parenthood of the Treasure Coast
When Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast launched its greening initiative in February 2008, their Green Committee surveyed the entire staff to learn the ecological behaviors each person feels are most important and which behaviors they are presently doing either at work or home. The Green Committee presented a report for senior management highlighting staffs' recommendations to decrease energy and materials use as means to reduce Planned Parenthood's ecological footprint and spending. Most of the recommendations were implemented by management.
Most organizations can save 5-30% in electricity costs through no and low cost solutions. As costs rise, savings become more and more significant and essential.
- To get a two year baseline and conduct an initial on-line energy audit, go to www.fpl.com with your account number. Review recommendations annually.
- When using AC, close doors and windows.
- Set thermostat at 78 degrees or more, allow employees to dress casually as appropriate.
- Caulk and weather strip leaks around windows, doors, and other potential gap spaces.
- Place “turn it off” labels on appropriate switches facility wide.
- Implement an office wide policy that encourages staff members to turn off equipment and lights when not in use.
- Program computer monitors to sleep mode after 15 minutes or less.
- Use power strips to be able to turn off multiple electronics at once.
- Shut off peripherals when not in use e.g. scanners, fax machines, some printers.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Install motion sensors in low traffic areas (e.g., storage, bathrooms, meeting rooms).
- Clear all obstructions from vents and heaters.
- Replace magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts. Upgrade existing fluorescent lighting with T-8 or T-5 lamps with electronic balasts. Replace flickering fluorescent lights promptly.
- Clean light fixtures and diffusers regularly.
- Reduce the number of lamps and increase lighting efficiency by installing optical reflectors or diffusers in fluorescent fixtures.
- Replace all exit signs with LED or high-efficiency alternatives.
- When replacing or installing new fluorescents install those with dimmable ballasts.
- Set the Energy Save feature on photocopier to default.
- Close the blinds at windows that receive direct sunlight and after work and on weekends to prevent excess heating in the summertime.
- Install window film to reduce solar heat gain.
- Shade east, south and west facing windows and walls and HVAC equipment with awnings and/or native shade trees and/or shrubs.
- Use a ceiling fan or other fan. Fans use 98% less energy than A/C and make you feel up to 6 degrees cooler.
- Open the windows and turn off the air conditioning on nice days, if possible.
- Burn calories, not kilowatts, take the stairs.
- If you use batteries, buy rechargeable batteries and a charger.
- Perform regular maintenance on your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. IF leasing your facility, ask the building owner or property manager to do the following:
- Clean or change filters every 2-4 months.
- Check entire system for coolant and air leaks, clogs and obstructions of air intake.
- When replacing equipment and appliances ensure that they are EPEAT www.epeat.net or Energy Star rated www.energystar.gov and/or equipped with energy savings features.
- Insulate water heater, storage tanks and hot water pipes.
- Paint your roof reflective white.
- If your organization owns buildings, consider hiring professional energy audit firm or energy service company (ESCO) to assist in financing other improvements.
2009 Nonprofits Going Green Winner Tip
Electricity: Tip from the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
The Environmental Strikeforce Team at Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County has conserved electricity through the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, natural lighting, programmable thermostats, energy efficient appliances/printers/computers, and our energy conservation initiative. This initiative encourages staff to turn off lights and computers with posted signs and fun/friendly reminders from the anonymous environment_monkey at gmail.com. The environmental monkey is sent to staff inboxes to remind staff to turn off lights, recycle, etc. The initial sad monkey picture becomes angrier with lack of compliance and each additional reminder. "Why won't humans listen?..." They also posted "step up to a healthier lifestyle" posters in the elevator to remind people to use the stairs. All staff also have access to copiers that allow easy conversion into PDF documents.
Responsible Paper Use
- Ideally, purchase chlorine-free, high post-consumer recycled paper, envelopes, binders, etc. Use as much recycled content as your printers and photocopiers can handle and ask for Greenseal or FSC certified paper otherwise.
- Work with printers that use recycled and/or FSC or Greenseal certified papers and non petroleum based inks. Ask your printer for green paper, ink and conservation options. Refer to www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/techplan/page5675.cfm for more details.
- Design mailings that require no envelope (e.g., postcards or fold-and-mail) when possible and if not, use the smallest envelope possible.
- Move to more ON-LINE communication and fundraising strategies: it’s cheaper and often more effective.
- Keep mailing lists up-to-date and avoid duplicates.
- Use email for internal distribution and/or post notices on a central memo board in place of distributing multiple copies.
- Use electronic files with a strong backup systems.
- Eliminate use of fax cover sheets; write on the fax itself or attach a fax post-it.
- Reduce junk faxes by contacting number listed on bottom of fax and requesting permanent deletion of your number.
- Edit documents on-screen as much as possible to avoid printing multiple drafts.
- Conserve paper by printing and copying double-sided. Buy machines that have this feature and ensure that instructions on using it are clearly labeled.
- Use the reduction feature on a copier to fit more on a page.
- Print using lowest quality print setting when appropriate to conserve ink and cartridges.
- Save paper by design: use narrower margins and smaller fonts when acceptable.
- Keep a stack of previously used paper for fax machines, printers and copiers. Use when appropriate to make use of both sides of office paper.
- Use reusable inter-office envelopes.
- Cancel junk mail and notify senders if you are receiving more copies of a mailer than you require. See www.newdream.org/junkmail.
2009 Nonprofits Going Green Winner Tip
Responsible Paper Use:
Tip from Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA)
The paper reduction efforts at Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) were led by staff and approved by the board. They included the establishment of a new secured website for all information the Board may need, including meeting agendas, finance reports, audit and minutes to avoid unnecessary printing of documents. AVDA also replaced mailed newsletters and solicitations with electronic correspondence. Finally, an online client database was implemented, ALICE that has replaced previous paper case management files, which reduced paper consumption for this activity by 90% and minimizes usage of inks and toners. As a result of these efforts, AVDA’s office expense budget is nearly 44% lower than the same 7 months period a year ago, recognizing a savings of $2,200.
In the Kitchen and Bathrooms
- Keep washable plates, mugs, glasses and silverware in the kitchen and avoid disposables.
- Install a water filter or a bulk bottled water cooler instead of individual bottles.
- Purchase recycled and non-chlorine bleached toilet paper, paper towels and napkins.
- Hang hand-towels in the kitchen (and bathroom) and use cloth napkins in place of paper ones. Establish a system for washing cloth items.
- In bathroom, consider replacing hand towels with energy efficient air dryers.
- Avoid antibacterial soaps for kitchen and bathroom, look for biodegradable, paraben-free soaps. Use phosphate free dishwashing liquid.
- Avoid individually packaged sugar and cream in the kitchen, buy in bulk.
- Purchase organic, shade grown and/or fair trade coffee.
- Bring lunches in reusable rather than disposable containers.
- Provide a dish washing area to support staff efforts to use reusables.
- Dine in as opposed to carrying out food. This will allow you to reduce your use of disposable packaging.
- Bring your own bags when shopping.
- Frequent restaurants that purchase from local producers.
2009 Nonprofits Going Green Contest Winner Tip
In the Kitchen and Bathrooms: Tip from Quantum House
Quantum House no longer purchases paper plates or plastic silverware for the suites they offer to families visiting while their children are here for medical treatment. Families now use regular dishes and flatware that can be reused. The House has additionally cut down on plastic waste by using a refillable water dispenser as opposed to bottled water. Families are also instructed to only wash dishes if the machines are full. All indoor cleaing products were switched to EPA approved OdoBan. A new partnership has been made with Localecopia who links organizations to locally grown produce and food.
Office Supplies, Products and Furniture
- Have a “used goods area” within the office and include binders, folders, padded envelopes, cardboard boxes, disks, etc. Use these before purchasing new supplies.
- Purchase remanufactured toner cartridges.
- Recycle toner and inkjet cartridges.
- www.recycle.org lists office equipment people are ready to donate.
- Buy ENERGYSTAR rated equipment for everything from computers to vending machines.
- Purchase laptops over desktops and if possible. When buying new computers and other electronics look for at their EPEAT ratings www.epeat.net and check out techsoup’s greentech blog: www.techsoup.org/greentech/index.cfm.
- Purchase printers that can print double sided and have ink saving options.
- Photocopiers that have energy and ink saving options and can copy double-sided.
- Purchase refurbished, used or remanufactured furniture and equipment.
- If replacing your carpet, look for refurbished and/or non-toxic recyclable carpeting. Many leading carpet manufacturers will recycle your old carpet.
- Purchase refurbished or remanufactured construction materials when building or remodeling. Contact ReStore at Habitat for Humanity: www.habitatpbc.org/restore.
- Request that deliveries come in returnable, reusable or recycled materials.
- Reuse packaging (bubble wrap, cardboard boxes and packing peanuts) or donate to a local nonprofit that ships or shipping company.
- Donate old equipment and furniture.
2009 Nonprofits Going Green Contest Winner Tip
Office Supplies, Products and Furniture: Tip from The Palm Beach Zoo
The Palm Beach Zoo starts by purchasing office paper, paper towels and toilet paper that are made of a percentage of recycled content and providing reusable coffee mugs for staff. They also ask vendors to refrain from using packing peanuts, preferring air pillows or paper. In addition the Zoo has evaluated and changed the product offerings in its gift shop, they now stock polycarbonate water bottles to encourage visitors to use refillable bottles rather than one time use water bottles; "green bags" to encourage the use of reusable bags; organic cotton t-shirts with earth-friendly messages; phalate-free animal replicas; puzzles crafted of sustainable plantation-grown rubber tree wood and Eco-friendly hardwood; earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from The Women of Cloud Forest, a Fair-trade Federation member; books with earth-friendly messages on habitat enrichment, ecology, composting, and gardening.
Recycling and Proper Disposal
- Conduct a Waste Audit. If you own or manage your building in Palm Beach County, you can request a waste audit from the Solid Waste Authority www.swa.org/site/recycling/recycling_at_work/recycling_at_work.htm - See attached for a do-it-yourself waste assessment. There is a fee associated with recycling haulers. However, these costs may be offset with waste reduction efforts.
- Set up a comprehensive office recycling program for paper, cardboard, glass, metals and plastics and clearly label all recycling bins. If in Martin County, call Waste Management, 772-546-7700; City of Stuart 772-288-5337, or Indiantown 772-5973755 to set up a recycling program. If you are unable to set up a recycling program Palm Beach County has several drop off sites and Martin County landfill has areas set aside for corrugated cardboard, mixed paper and beverage containers.
- Educate your office about recycling and proper waste management. Designate a recycling coordinator(s) to monitor and maintain recycling program
- Collect rechargeable batteries. You can search for the nearest place to recycle here: www.rbrc.org.
- For other potentially hazardous materials, refer to Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority for disposal advice www.swa.org/site/hhw/haz_waste_business/hhw_business.htm
- Donate old cell phones for reuse. For drop-off information see: www.911cellphonebank.com
- Recycle packing peanuts. Call 1.800.828.2214 to find the nearest drop off location.
- Donate used computers and equipment to another nonprofit or a firm that can refurbish them
- Donate furniture and used construction materials to a resale store. Contact ReStore at Habitat for Humanity: www.habitatpbc.org/restore
- Educate your office about recycling and proper waste management.
- Audit your paper use by comparing your present and past paper usage. Set new paper reduction goals after each audit.
2009 Nonprofits Going Green Contest Winner Tip
Recycling and Proper Disposal: Tip from St. Peter Catholic Church
Two high school members of St. Peter Catholic Church, Lillian McBee and Nathalie McCrate, developed a business project plan to put sustainable green policies and measures into place at St. Peters. The project plan included green initiatives such as recycling and proper disposal. Through solid waste reduction initiatives and launching a recycling program that includes office paper, mixed paper, plastics, aluminum, glass, St. Peter’s cut its waste stream by 50%. It also removed toxics from its waste stream by instituting an ink cartridge and cell phone recycling program, disposing light bulbs at the Solid Waste Authority, reusing older electronics by by fixing them and donating to the poor. What’s also important is that they realize that their process takes perseverance and understanding and that there is always more they can still do. They’re now changing out styrofoam plates and cups with recyclable plates and cups.
Meetings and Events
- See Responsible Paper Use for invitation suggestions.
- Support environmentally responsible hotels and meeting spaces. See www.bluegreenmeetings.org for tips on selecting venues and www.greenhotels.com. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/greenlodging/lodges.htm#se for a list of green hotels.
- Ensure that meetings and trainings are held at locations served by public transportation. Include train or bus directions on the invitation.
- Buy locally grown food, and support caterers who do too.
- Label foods at events if they are local.
- Ask the venue to use reusable cups, flatware, silverware, and linens when feasible. Otherwise use disposable products that are biodegradable, with post consumer recycled content or items that are recyclable. If using, recyclable beverage containers, cups, etc. arrange for recycling pickup and provide clearly marked recycling bins.
- Serve water in pitchers with glasses over bottled water when possible.
- Ask that beverages, condiments and other food be provided in bulk rather than individual containers.
- Ask if venue is able to donate leftover food trays to staff or homeless shelters. To further reduce waste, ask if venue can compost food scraps.
- Provide paper and pens upon request rather than setting them out on all tables.
- Collect name badges for reuse.
- Minimize paper handouts. Post handouts and/or presentations on a website, send by email or provide on a USB flash drive.
- Make sure your attendees know that this meeting or event is “green” and what they can do to support that e.g., minimize handouts and recycling.
- Solicit environmentally friendly items for auctions, door prizes and/or awards.
- If event is outdoors request biodiesel fueled generators and use energy efficient auxiliary lighting(e.g. LED with reflectors).
- In evaluations of meetings and events, ask how the event could reduce its carbon footprint in the future.
2009 Nonprofits Going Green Contest Winner Tip
Meetings and Events: Tip from The American Heart Association
The American Heart Association now uses Kintera for on-line fundraising for Start! Heart Walk & Jump Rope for Heart causes and are now moving in a more on-line direction for their three Heart Ball events. Thirty five percent of their fundraising was done on-line last year and they expect to see a further increase this year. They also ask their photographers for events to send 'proofs' electronically, for review and purchase. They are also placing a priority on choosing venues and vendors who are implementing green ideas.