United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has made a commitment to reduce our environmental impact as an organization. We also want to make sure that we can keep our overhead low and use funds wisely and efficiently.
We've now achieved Sustainability at Work's gold certification. Here are a few things that we did to accomplish this:
- We use reusable kitchenware everyday and at internal meetings and events.
- Composting and recycling, including rigid plastics and plastic bags, is easy for staff thanks to a kitchen remodel designed and donated by Neil Kelly.
- We volunteer in the community throughout the year. The Green Team coordinates an Earth Day volunteer project with staff to highlight different aspects of being sustainable, such as repurposing household materials at the ReBuilding Center, electronics recycling, and removing invasive plants in Forest Park.
- We reduced our gas use by 40% through the replacement of an older boiler with a high efficiency one. Energy Trust of Oregon provided financial incentives for the upgrade.
- We saved 310,000 kWh of electricity and $24,000 in two years since HVAC went through a control upgrade.
- Our black and white copier use went down 20% in two years since setting copiers to default double-sided printing, and intentionally using technology in place of printed copies.
- We installed a “cool roof” on one of our buildings which needed a roof replacement. The cool roof helps mitigate the urban heat island effect by reflecting solar energy, thereby creating lower surface temperatures. We also installed instullation under the cool roof which should result in less energy needed to heat and cool the building.
- Carpooling is common. Staff members take the initiative to set up carpools to volunteer projects and events. The last staff retreat had a goal of 100% participation in carpooling and achieved 90% participation.