Most people now agree that climate change is real and that we must address the problem. But it’s frustrating that many of the proposed legislative solutions to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions will take time to implement. Audubon strongly advocates for public policy changes to address climate change, but we are also trying to be a leader in reducing our own carbon footprint and emissions now. Here’s some of what we’re doing.
We recently moved our national headquarters in New York City to a new location, renting about 25,000 square feet of space in an older Manhattan building that was being converted from printing presses to offices. Our build-out followed guidelines set by the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification. We had to make many important decisions, including the careful selection of environmentally friendly building materials; the choice of a location near mass transit; the use of furniture that minimizes environmental impact from “cradle to cradle”; and the installation of systems that maximize water conservation, heating and cooling efficiency, and the use of natural light.
As a result, we were awarded the highest LEED certification, Platinum, and our space received the highest point score of any commercial office ever rated. Plus we did it on budget. We estimate that our additional build-out cost was only about 10 percent more than it would have been without the green features—and we expect to recoup the financial cost in a few years. The boost to the environment and employee morale was both immediate and lasting. Maybe best of all, we followed a model any organization can replicate. The expertise and the materials we used are easily available to anyone.
We are also going green with other facilities nationwide. Nearly all of our new Audubon Centers are LEED-certified. The Audubon Center at Debs Park in Los Angeles is one of only a few commercial buildings in the country to operate off the grid. And most recently, the Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas received Gold LEED certification.
We also looked at the carbon footprint of Audubon magazine. Beginning later this year, 90 percent of the magazine’s body stock will consist of post-consumer recycled paper. A new Columbia University study estimates this will reduce Audubon’s greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 615 tons annually, which is 7 percent of the organization’s total emissions. Plus the switch significantly cuts our paper costs, which makes it a true win-win. We are particularly proud that Audubon will be one of the first magazines in the country to use this level of recycled content, and we hope it sets a new standard for other publications.
Individuals and businesses can make similar energy improvements of their own. To learn what you can do, go to Audubon.org, pull down the Issues & Action menu to Global Warming, and click on Be Part of the Solution. You can also help combat global warming by becoming part of Audubon’s activist network by clicking on Take Action Now in the same drop-down menu. And look for more conservation action ideas at TogetherGreen.org. The time to act to address global warming is now. Let’s make sure we’re all doing our part.
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