Incorporating sustainability into our operations strengthens our culture and allows us to walk our talk. While our operational impacts are less than those of our products, any impact matters. So we're working to reduce them.

Our physical environment encompasses approximately 17,600 square feet of office space in a building that we currently lease. We do not own any manufacturing assets at this time. One of the drawbacks of leasing is that we are limited in how we can optimize our space to make it more efficient, but we are doing what we can.

Here's what we're doing to embed sustainability into our culture:

Diverting Materials from Landfills
Given how much we talk about waste diversion, it makes sense for us to use our headquarters as a model for what a Zero Waste operation should look like. Our goal is to divert 90 percent of office materials (paper, glass, plastic, aluminum cans) in 2017 to earn certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council.

To achieve this, we installed landfill, compost and recycling bins and trained staff on how to sort the materials they dispose. This is important, because if a recyclable can or a compostable apple core ends up in the landfill bin, guess what? It ends up in a landfill.

Each year, we audit the percentage of materials that we send to landfills, recycle and compost with Eco-Cycle, a local nonprofit recycler. We involve employees in the auditing process so that we can hammer home the importance of minimizing waste.

As our company has grown, achieving our diversion goal has proven difficult because we are disposing of more materials overall. In 2016, we diverted 80 percent of our materials, which was 5 percent more than the year before. Of this amount, we composted 51 percent and recycled 29 percent.

Good? Yes. Good enough? No. Had we put everything in the right bin, we could have diverted 88 percent (recycled 35 percent and composted 53 percent) of our material. We will continue to educate employees and promote the importance of diversion – just like we do with our customers – until we reach our 90 percent diversion goal.

Reducing Water Consumption
We use the water we consume – about 153,000 gallons in 2016 – for drinking and landscaping, and in bathrooms and our kitchenette. To reduce water consumption, we installed a high-efficiency dishwasher and reminded employees to conserve using signs and posters. We set a goal in 2014 to reduce water use 10 percent by 2017; to date, we have reduced consumption by 19 percent. We have one more year to measure to ensure that we are maintaining our reduction in water consumption, but so far, so good!

To offset consumption, we purchase gallon-for-gallon Water Restoration Certificates, which support the Bonneville Environmental Foundation's (BEF) water restoration projects. BEF has amazing and impactful projects around the country, and we are proud to be continual supporters of the great work that they do. Some of the projects include restoring sections of the Conejos, Fraser, Cimarron, and Roaring Fork rivers here in Colorado.

Curtailing Energy Use
Getting an office to consume net zero electricity is no small task, but that's what we're striving to achieve. We want to reduce both the cost of and greenhouse gas emissions associated with powering, heating and cooling our workspace.

We've spent several years enhancing efficiency where we can, such as installing efficient lighting and motion sensors. We've estimated costs for our landlord to install efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment as well as low-flow toilets, and what it would take to improve our building envelope. We even chased down a solar company that was willing to put a few more panels on our already solar-powered roof.

We're now at the point where we would have to make significant improvements to make a difference – and these come at a high cost. This is tough to justify with little time left on our lease. Rest assured, building efficiency is a high priority and we continue to discuss this issue with our landlord.

Limiting Miles Traveled
Air and vehicle travel are necessary evils for building relationships and growing our customer base, but it also expands our carbon footprint.

By measuring our impact, we learned that air travel was the largest contributor to our operational carbon footprint. To address this, we created a “No Fly Zone” and asked sales reps to attend at least one meeting virtually each year. We also set a goal to reduce total miles flown by 5 percent for every $1,000 of sales closed. By setting a goal normalized to sales, we can show improvements in travel efficiency despite business growth.

Thanks to web meetings, conference calls and broker representatives when appropriate, our sales reps are spending a little less time with TSA and our carbon footprint is shrinking. We reduced normalized carbon emissions by 11 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016 – something we're proud of!

We recognize that our decrease was not as great in 2016 compared to 2015, one of the struggles as we grow in big ways. We have maintained a 5% reduction as a goal for 2017, which we will continue to push to meet.

We set a similar goal to reduce emissions from the vehicles that we drive. We set a goal to reduce reimbursable miles driven in 2016 by 5 percent. We were pleased to exceed this goal during the year, with a total reduction of 14.5 percent. This is a larger decrease than we expected (which is awesome!), although we think changes in personnel could have been a factor. Looking forward, we plan to maintain this progress by keeping our reimbursed vehicle mileage steady amidst anticipated growth.

Carbon Offsets
We work with a neighboring company, Renewable Choice Energy, to buy carbon offsets to balance the greenhouse gas emissions from our headquarters' electricity and natural gas consumption, business travel, employee commuting, paper consumption, and landfill disposal/recycling/composting.

Since our first report in 2014, we purchased 1,445 metric tons of offset credits to support Larimer County Landfills' capture of methane gas and electricity generation. This is equivalent to taking nearly 305 passenger vehicles off the roads or powering 153 homes for a year!

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2017 Operations Carbon Footprint

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Materials vs. Waste
Just a quick note about our word choice. “Waste” implies “worthless,” which is inaccurate when talking about recyclable or compostable materials.

Those materials have a lot of worth and if everyone keeps calling it “waste,” we will keep treating it like waste. Waste is what goes to landfills. So we use the word “materials.” Will you join us?