Sustainability at EDF
Walking the talk
At Environmental Defense Fund, we don’t just advocate for strong environmental values—we live them ourselves. We strive to integrate sustainable practices into our operations and are constantly evaluating our performance in an ongoing effort to minimize our environmental impact.
An internal Sustainability Council (the Council) was established in 2011 to assess and address the sustainability practices of our offices, operations and travel. Comprised of Executive Team members and staff members representing our offices, departments and programs, the Council reviews Environmental Defense Fund’s practices and works to implement enhanced programs that minimize the impacts of our efforts on the environment. Also, members of the Council regularly collaborate and share best practices with representatives from other environmental NGOs including through the Sustainability Managers’ Round Table.
The Council created the Environmental Defense Fund Sustainability Handbook to make it easier to implement best practices in our day-to-day efforts on both an individual and collective level. It provides guidance regarding transportation, energy, purchasing, paper, water, dining, waste and recycling choices.
Greenhouse gas emissions inventory
Environmental Defense Fund conducts a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory every calendar year. These reports help identify opportunities for decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions. Examples:
- In an effort to reduce emissions from travel, a sizeable portion of our footprint, we offer transit benefits to reduce commuting pollution and prioritize videoconferencing over plane travel wherever possible. If travel between East Coast cities is necessary, we try to do so via train.
- We’re experimenting with ways to dramatically reduce paper used in membership materials and have already made easy, but important, changes such as using only 100% postconsumer recycled paper and setting all printers and copiers to default double-sided printing.
In our fifth comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory [PDF], we found that EDF emitted 3,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide (equivalents) in calendar year 2012.
All of our offices work to apply the best practices outlined in the Environmental Defense Fund Sustainability Handbook, and some of our newer facilities are recognized by the Green Business Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Both our Washington, D.C and San Francisco offices are certified LEED Gold.
Green features of Environmental Defense Fund’s new facilities include:
- Extensive use of natural light with floor to ceiling glass office fronts
- Equipment and furniture high in recycled content
- D.C. office chairs use 100% recycled seating fabric
- Countertops in the San Francisco office consist of 100% postconsumer recycled paper
- The San Francisco office renovations recycled 95% of its construction waste
- Concrete countertops in the Austin office contain between 10% and 50% recycled content and contain no resins
- Workspaces in the Austin office feature textiles containing 100% recycled content; metal finishes electrostatically applied powder coating emits no VOC’s; wood substrates are 100% recycled industrial by product; certified wood fibers from FSC certified suppliers; legs are cold rolled steel and 100% recyclable, 59% of steel made from post-consumer scrap and 33% comprised of post-industrial materials
- Non-toxic interior paint
- Location within a few blocks of mass transit
- Learn more about our Washington D.C. green office features in a two part feature in Workspace Design Magazine (part 1 and part 2), and find out how we transformed our San Francisco space into a green office [PDF]
At our national headquarters in New York, the Sustainability Council led the charge to convert the entire building from “dirty” fuel oil to cleaner burning natural gas.
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