In October 2011 we become Ecova and initiated our companywide sustainability program called Ecova Impact. The goal of the program is to use our energy and sustainability experts for our own benefit—and follow the same recommendations around social and environmental responsibility we give our clients. Ecova Impact’s mission is to educate, empower, and motivate employees to improve the environmental and social sustainability of our business operations. We work together with colleagues throughout the organization to increase community involvement and improve Ecova’s environmental impact across all of our locations—essentially, to make sure that we’re ‘walking our talk.’
2012 was a big year for Ecova Impact—a year full of growing and learning, certainly, but a huge amount of progress. To demonstrate our commitment to our communities, we launched a new Community Service Day benefit, giving all Ecova employees a full day to volunteer at a nonprofit or educational organization of their choice. To help get over the logistical hurdles, the Ecova Impact team organized company- and office-wide volunteer opportunities for anyone interested—or staff chose to get their own groups together. We finished out the year with an astounding 73% involvement―890 employees took advantage of the benefit, which equates to nearly 3 ½ FTE giving back to their communities for an entire year!
While there is always more to do, we have also made good progress on reducing our environmental impact. Following the mantra, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” we spent time baselining our environmental footprint, particularly our energy and water consumption, and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Based on the results, we implemented a number of energy- and water-saving capital improvements in several offices, including occupancy sensors, daylight controls, efficient water fixtures and dual-flush toilets. These efforts have already reduced our annual consumption by 43,000 kWh and 213,500 gallons of water.
Now, we’re looking forward to another action-packed year for the Ecova Impact team—and it’s exciting to see Ecova taking advantage of the opportunities available to us when we look at our business through the ‘sustainability’ lens. As an example, we recently had our annual Sales Summit, bringing 130 employees together to discuss our sales strategy for 2013. This year, we ‘virtualized’ the entire event, utilizing videoconference technology instead of an in-person venue. This not only saved us over $50,000 in avoided travel costs, but reduced our environmental footprint by roughly 65 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2e) of GHG emissions—equivalent to powering 8 homes for an entire year! What’s more, 100% of the attendees said that their experience was ‘good’ or ‘exceptional’ in a post-summit survey, and 97% said they would recommend a virtual summit in the future.
Given this success, we’re in the process of developing corporate guidelines on videoconferencing and business travel—and have a lot of other plans in the works as we continue to hone our operations. As we know all too well, there’s always more progress to make, and a lot to learn along the way.