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In This Issue
How Do You Know Your E-Waste Is Being Properly Recycled?
Speak Green Inspires
Building Sustainability Through Tenants
Sustainable Nature
Improve Environmental Performance, Reduce Costs

With over 20 years of experience, Great Forest is a leader in sustainability consulting, providing project management expertise to clients nationwide. Services include:

Learn How to Cut Waste Removal Costs by 20% to 50% 

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Great Forest President Featured As UNEP Expert 


UNEP screenshot 


Great Forest President Richard Fuller was recently featured as a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) expert, answering questions on pollution. UNEP featured experts share their expertise on environmental issues and the sustainability of natural resources.  


Richard has worked with the UNEP on global pollution cleanup projects with the Blacksmith Institute, the nonprofit he founded, which Great Forest proudly supports.    


You can post questions for UNEP experts or see Richard's answers. If you have a question about sustainability at work, ask a Great Forest expert.  


 - The Great Forest Team 

How Do You Know That Your E-Waste Is Being Properly Recycled? 

NLR Truck With Lamps For RecyclingWhat happens to unwanted office computers and other electronics? While there are no federal regulations for electronic waste, there are many cities across the U.S. that have passed laws making it illegal to discard e-waste with regular trash. So how do you make sure that your e-waste is being properly recycled?  


The Great Forest team recently visited NLR (Next Level for Recycling) in Connecticut, one of a handful of facilities that specializes in recycling electronics (including computers, monitors, laptops, cell phones, MP3 players, digital cameras) and universal waste (including fluorescent bulbs, mercury containing devices and rechargeable batteries.)   


NLR is specially permitted to transport, store and process these materials, which contain toxic heavy metals. Everything they pick up is recorded and they issue certificates of recycling that show the chain of custody to their facility, where they ensure appropriate disposal. 


"The certificate of recycling is key," says Amy Marpman, Great Forest's director of recycling services. "Make sure the vendor you contract with for removal of universal and e-waste provides a manifest or certificate that includes the materials picked up, and specifies what facilities those materials go to." 

At NLR, Great Forest got to see the process first hand. Fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury, were fed into a giant machine that separated the metal end caps from the glass, and captured the mercury vapor.  Computers and other electronics were separated into their base components.  


The metals and electronic components are sold to manufacturers for reuse in new materials. Glass, however, is recycled in an innovative partnership NLR has with Connecticut's Department of Transportation. 


"It was great to learn that 100% of the glass from the light bulbs they process are used as filler for paving highways in Connecticut," says Great Forest consultant Caroline Chappell.  


So the next time you are in Connecticut, look down.  You may be driving on one of your old light bulbs. 


Speak Green Conference Inspires  


Anna Dengler, Great Forest's director of sustainability, recently attended the Speak Green conference on June 8, 2011. Below she shares a recap of what she learned from the four panel discussions and keynote presentations.




Speak Green, organized by Urban Green, was created in response to the energy that is behind the green building movement that doesn't always translate across all sectors and political opinions. This conference set out to answer the underlying issue of communicating outside the green community with success.

Here are some of the main ideas that inspired me from the presentations:  


1) Focus on solutions rather than hot button issues. Hot button issues - such as climate change - tends to turn off people rather than engage. By focusing on the solutions, like energy efficiency, people can come to the table and agree on things.  


2) Build green. Everyone profits. Make your message positive and persuasive by knowing your audience.  


3) "That's interesting. Tell me more."  Instead of dictating what you assume needs to be done, these words can help open up a discussion. Speaking green is not about lecturing but having a dialogue with all parties involved.  


When working in the field, I find that goals are attained much faster if everyone is engaged in the discussions. For example, with recycling initiatives, I speak with everyone from property managers, to waste haulers, to the cleaning staff and tenants. Sustainability is a group effort and not everyone in the group is part of the green community. So learning to translate and speak green to them is essential.  


Building Sustainability Through Tenants   

Promoting building-wide sustainability is often a two-pronged process.  


"In addition to pushing forward common area and building system initiatives, we also reach out to tenants and stakeholders at the same time," explains Anna Dengler, Great Forest's director of sustainability. " 


As part of Great Forest's sustainability management program at 650 Fifth Avenue, Great Forest is conducting sustainability reviews for tenants and providing recommendations in five categories related to sustainability: waste reduction, recycling, energy, purchasing, and water.  


The sustainability reviews take into account each tenants' internal sustainability initiatives and offers suggestions on improvements.  


For example, one tenant at 650 Fifth Avenue has a corporate policy that mandates double-sided printing, a good waste reduction technique. However, they used single serving coffee machines and bottled water was readily available in their offices. In this case, Great Forest recommended installing a water filtration machine to cut down on costs and waste associated with bottle use, and using "bean to cup" machines, which produce higher quality coffee in large batches.  


During one office tour, Great Forest noticed that if some of the tenant's lighting fixtures were changed, they would see immediate reductions in their energy use and costs.  Great Forest noted that if the tenant replaced their 17 halogen fixtures with LED lights, they would save an estimated  $450 in annual electricity costs. If they replaced their incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs, they would save over $1200 a year.  And if they changed their fluorescent fixtures from 3-bulbs to 2-bulbs and a reflector, they would see a 33% savings in energy costs.


Such individual tenant sustainability reviews add up to increased overall building efficiency, and that's a win-win for everyone working under the same roof.   


Bringing Nature Into the Office in a More Sustainable Way 

Flowers and plants are often used at businesses for events & conferences and in building entrances and reception areas. But how can we bring nature into the office in a more sustainable way?  Great Forest recently met with Irene Woodard of True Blooms to find out more.  


GF: Why are flower arrangements important for businesses concerned about sustainability? 

IW: Often flowers are a first greeting in a business, even before a receptionist. Flowers arranged simply and artfully make a statement that promotes care and attention to the earth. There is so much beauty in our backyard. 


GF:  What are some of the biggest mistakes businesses make in using live flowers and plants?
IW: One of the biggest mistakes is not thinking about where the plants and flowers are sourced from and then how they are disposed of. Many people are beginning to think locally about the food they eat, and it is a small step to think the same way about the plants and flowers they see. The other question people should always ask is what is in season? I love hydrangeas, but locally they are only available in summer and fall, so that is when I use them.


GF: Are there regulations that affect how you can use real plants and flowers in commercial buildings?
IW: Yes, there is building and commercial legislation about live plants and flowers. One has to get familiar with your local laws. In New York, live plants may be used for parties, unless the venue has a rule about plants. For the winter holidays, we have to follow the fire laws. For instance, holiday lights have to be on artificial wreaths and trees. However, a live wreath without lights has always been okay. 


GF: Is there a big opportunity to green up the floral industry? 

IW: I believe there is a huge opportunity here to evaluate how the industry can and should listen to the green consumer. Just like the food industry is responding to consumers wanting locally grown foods, the floral industry will begin to make shifts. By using local products instead of bringing plants in from far away, we reduce costs and energy consumption. So if businesses demand greener products, the floral industry will follow. And the choices for more sustainable greenery will widen, which is a good thing for everyone.