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Introducing the 2017 MPower Graduates

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Posted: 10:56AM April 10th, 2018 | Comments

Last month the 2017 MPower Cohort graduated with a celebration! It was a reflection on what the champions and their green teams accomplished in this past year. The cohort worked their way through the monthly Sustainability Sessions and learned about green strategies regarding Transportation, Waste, Energy, IT, Water, Food and more. The goal of the sessions is not only to learn, but also to inspire projects at the individual businesses that make an impact on their community, environmental footprint, and bottom line. Each graduate accomplished several notable projects, some of which I’ll share here.


The local, not-for-profit retirement organization Attic Angel Community focused primarily on sustainable energy with their projects. They installed a solar array for their north apartments, and replaced light bulbs. The solar array will save 110,000 kwh for first year and $256,000 in savings over the next 30 years. The light bulb replacements have garnered a 71% reduction in energy consumption. In addition they tackled waste in our community with their annual Attic Sale. You can participate in their waste reduction efforts by joining Attic Angel at the sale this coming June 1st & 2nd at Keva Sports Center in Middleton. By participating in the 2017 MPower cohort, Attic Angel discovered that “People of All Ages” are interested in sustainability.


Our next 2017 MPower graduate is HotelRED, the City of Madison’s first luxury boutique hotel and restaurant. Like Attic Angel, HotelRED also replaced light bulbs, transitioning from incandescent to LED lights around the entire property saving 1,091 kwh on average monthly. The hotel’s restaurant The Wise earned a perfect score in the Just Dining Guide, meaning they meet the guides requirements of offering a non-tipped wage of $9.00 or over, and a tipped wage $3.62 or over. It also means they offer health insurance, paid time off, retirement savings options, and sick day pay to full-time hourly employees. You can check out the restaurant yourself by bringing your old electronics to HotelRED’s Electronics Donation Drive next week Apr 15 - Apr 21 to earn a free drink ticket to The Wise.


The next graduate is one of the Midwest’s most trusted builders - J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. Over the past year, the green team at Findorff have worked on establishing company wide systems for tackling sustainability. They developed a framework for sustainability called “Findorff Footprint” which includes: Community, Responsibility, Efficiency, Environment and Impact. Under this framework they ran a recycling drive, and educated employees on proper waste disposal. In addition, they now have a top-down communication plan to make sure all parties are engaged around their sustainability goals. They also installed a bicycle maintenance stand to encourage employees to use alternative modes of transportation to get to the office. The team at Findorff found that sometimes just asking a question is all it takes to start getting organized – and by building in sustainability it will stay in the forefront of their minds going forward.


National Guardian Life Insurance Co. (NGL) is our next esteemed MPower graduate.  NGL worked to meet their goals of employee engagement and waste reduction. To begin, they donated 11 rain barrels to a local neighborhood. Next, they ventured to reduce paper cup use and waste aiming to avoid 280 lbs lumber, 4,000 gal water, 5.5 gal gas, and 1 ton GHG. Finally, they educated employees on best practices, and aim to host a Bike to Work Week event in 2018. Although they had a slow start in developing their Green Team, this allowed NGL the extra time to build a team with a broad knowledge base and reach their goals by starting small and building momentum.


The next MPower graduate, Planet Bike, was founded in Madison with the vision of how bicycles have the power to make people, communities and the planet healthier. Planet Bike has always had a sustainable mindset and used this year’s MPower participation to reinvigorate their full team effort. They reestablished the sustainability discussion within the company by working on reducing their products plastic packaging. They also aim to recycle their products for their customers at the end of its usable life. Lastly, they are organizing 12 company wide zero vehicle emission days per year. Planet Bike is truly living their motto of “Better products, better world.”


The professional services firm SVA is out next graduate, and they took a data-focused angle on the sustainability projects. For example, in their parking lot they replaced twelve 400-watt HID lamps with 120-watt LED lamps of the same brightness. This saves $1,545, 14,717 kwh, and 32,000 pounds of carbon annually. Another project requires all business tax returns to be e-delivered this upcoming tax season.  This saves 150,000 sheets of paper, $1,500 in purchasing, and approximately 10 trees. They also looked at their water consumption footprint and changed their outdoor sprinkler system to only be on when needed. This saved 90,000-125,000 gallons of water per year which equates to 5-6 backyard swimming pools worth of water, $240-$335 annual cost savings, and 396-550 lbs. of CO2 emission avoided. Their green team found success by looking at energy, waste, and water. And they are happy with these results, but excited to see how much further they can go.


By participating in MPower, our next graduate UW Credit Union made it their goal to build and nurture a culture of sustainability that supports their Social Mission, and benefits the greater community. They did this by joining the Adopt a Highway program and cleaning up debris while showing their commitment to a pollution free community. Another goal was to achieve Green Master status through the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. Through MPower they were able to double their previous score, which was 80 points below average, to now be in the top 1%! By broadening their scope and looking outside their walls, the Green Team at UW Credit Union was able to practice “Not just financial wellbeing, but your whole wellbeing.”


The final graduate from the 2017 MPower cohort is YMCA of Dane County. Their E-Waste Drive collected over 3,400 lbs of e-waste from their 3 locations. They also installed new Dual Flush Toilets to save water and placed proper recycling bins and signage throughout the locations to educate and aid in waste reduction. They encouraged YMCA members to ride their bikes to the gym by starting a monthly drawing for bikers. Finally, they also tackled energy by turning off devices not in use, and converting to LEDs at their East Branch. These projects have an annual savings of $4,500 and $30,000 respectively. This Green Team’s efforts reflect their social responsibility to ensure future YMCA members live in a healthy environment. This quote from the YMCA sums up the spirit of all of this year’s MPower graduates: “we believe that lasting personal and social change happens when we all work together.”


Congratulations to each graduate for their impressive work towards becoming a more sustainable company and creating a more sustainable Dane County. A big thank you to all the Green Teams for all their hard work! We can’t wait to see where their sustainability journey takes them next.


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