Walking Our Talk

NCS is serious about sustainability. We don’t just educate around it, everyone, including our board, staff, and affiliates seek to cut their and the organization’s negative footprint.

Transportation
Focus Areas: Office Location, Carpooling, Alternative Transportation, Telecommuting, Carbon Offsetting

Transportation to work and business meetings makes up a large part of the impact of any service organization. NCS tackles its transportation related impact in a variety of ways. In 2009 we relocated our office to a central location for our staff. The portion of our people who live in, or pass through, Boulder meet at a designated location each morning to carpool to work. Biking (or roller skiing) to work is encouraged. Some staff regularly take two wheels to get to work, some take the bus. Everyone is encouraged to participate in our annual bike to work day. We ride through Boulder picking up the yummy breakfasts provided by local establishments then make the 15 mile bike ride to the office. On the summer Bike to Work day it is usually pretty hot but everyone is a trooper, whether they bike regularly or had to dust their bike off or borrow a friend’s. The ride is beautiful surrounded by hay and horse fields, ponds, and the Colorado Foothills.

On Fridays the whole office works remotely to further reduce our impact.

Finally, when air travel is required, we have always offset 100% of our emissions.

Waste
Focus Areas: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Compost

Trash is waste and waste means lost money and resources. NCS strives to reduce the amount of waste we generate. We send documents electronically and limit our printing. Paper could be the largest form of waste, instead, it is a small fraction of what we generate. All of the paper we purchase is 100% recycled with at least 30% post consumer content. All of our office furniture was reused and repurposed from other organizations. Similarly all of our kitchenware is re-useable. Our internal waste audit in 2010 revealed an 80% diversion rate for the waste that we do generate, with the bulk of the volume being recycled. In the same year we started our own compost bin outside our office.

Climate
Focus Areas: Carbon Offsetting, Everything We Do

Climate change is a driving force behind the work of our organization.We help other organizations reduce their impact on the climate and our in house sustainability initiatives have the same goal. In 2003 we were one of the first organizations to join the Chicago Climate Exchange to offset our emissions.

Energy and Water
Focus Areas: Energy Efficiency, Lighting, Water Use

Buildings account for 41% of energy use and 14% of potable water use in the US. We reduce the impact of our office as much as possible. In 2010 we upgraded our heating system to an ENERGY STAR certified furnace that was 45% more efficient than the average furnace on the market. During the winter, we keep the temperature slightly below 70 degrees and break out the sweaters. During the summer we use natural and ceiling fan ventilation to cool the office and have chosen not to install an A/C unit. NCS staff use laptops, which consume significantly less power than desktops. Rather than hosting our own internal data storage server, we use cloud storage services, preventing underutilization of unnecessary in house technology and energy waste. Our office has is day-lit so we rarely turn on any lights. When we do, we use task lighting with CFL bulbs. Finally, water is a vital resource here in Colorado so we installed faucet aerators and dual flush toilet technology to reduce our water waste.

In 2012 we replaced the old carpet with repurposed Interface carpet tiles, placed sustainable bamboo flooring in our kitchen and restroom, and installed new energy and water efficient fixtures and appliances, including an even more water efficient kitchen faucet and refrigerator. As with any remodel a few surprises caught us along the way, including some amazing art deco linoleum under two layers of old carpet. Most exciting, we uncovered the original log house foundation that dates our building at well over the 100 years we knew about.

Health and Wellness
Focus Areas: Flex Time, Health and Wellness, Education, Toxics, Dog Friendly Office

NCS cultivates a pleasant working environment that encourages productivity and wellness. In addition to the staff who bike to work, through our flex time program we encourage staff to break for an hour of afternoon exercise which usually involves Frisbee. NCS also encourages employees to seek educational opportunities outside the organization and financially supports those efforts. Cleaning products are essential to any office and we make sure ours do more good than harm by choosing the least toxic and most sustainable option. When we repainted the office in 2009 we took special care to find low VOC paint. Further brightening up the office, on many days our staff is joined by four legged friends including Lola the coon hound, Georgia the boxer, Wrangler the bull terrier and Sheriden the rescue dog.