by Cindy Pantea
Wow — read the sustainability efforts of these three nonprofits, which include two residential communities! What are you and your neighbors doing for the environment? Are you cleaning up your dog’s waste, realizing the importance of not littering and participating in recycling efforts? Maybe these folks will inspire you to do that and more:
Habitat for Humanity (nonprofit) – Because they care about the environment, this nonprofit is continually working with its partners to improve the quality of the building process and the homes they build. Their sustainability accomplishments include:
- Building all ENERGY STAR® rated homes (and since 2010, the affiliate has been designated a Green Builder for complying with Northeastern Ohio Green Building Institute Standard)
- Building healthy buildings with good indoor air quality by using natural and non-toxic building products, installing energy efficient windows that reduce condensation and thereby reduce moisture and mold, sealing holes to prevent air leakage, ensuring proper ventilation for HVAC systems, and designing energy efficient plumbing that makes water conservation a priority.
- Using materials with recycled content and applying building methods that minimize waste.
- Opening a ReStore in 2007, which has recently been expanded, that sells building materials and home furnishings at 50% to 90% off retail prices – this not only diverts an estimated 300 tons of perfectly good materials from landfills each year but also has generated $2 million in income that was then reinvested into the organization.
- Recycling a perfectly useful building across from Rolling Acres mall, which enabled them to also consolidate building operations, the Restore and administrative offices into one building.
- Increasing efforts to help sustain local communities; for example, Habitat’s Deconstruction Program helps divert demolition debris from landfills and “A Brush with Kindness” helps low-income homeowners spruce up the look of their existing homes.
Laurel Lake Retirement Center (nonprofit) – This retirement community has been educating their 450 residents (average age of 82) in the concept of Sustainability and the practice of Recycling. Their efforts include:
- Working with Summit /Akron Solid Waste Management Authority on plastic and paper recycling.
- Collecting and re-using building materials salvaged from an abundance of re-modeling projects.
- Using only energy-saving plumbing and electrical fixtures (including wall switches with motion/infrared sensors, where appropriate, CFSs in the common areas, fluorescent fixtures with electronic ballasts, LED exit signs).
- Using only Energy-Star rated appliances.
- Upgrade all air filters in all HVAC units withMerv-8 filters.
- Instituting a CFL conversion program for residents’ lighting fixtures.
- Involving Hudson area Eagle Scouts in the building of bridges and walk-ways on Laurel Lake’s 5 miles of nature trails.
- Introducing a composting program for food refuse.
- Introducing dog waste stations to avert ground water contamination.
- Running a year-around Garage Sale open to the whole Hudson area to aid in the re-use of household furniture and equipment.
- Completing an analysis of both gas and electricity bills over a 12 month period to aid in the establishment of the Laurel Lake Retirement Community Carbon Footprint.
- Shared their activities with “Good Day in Hudson” cable television program to educate others.
- Installed walk-off mats at each entrance to catch air contaminants.
- Purchase supplies in all areas in bulk to reduce container trash.
- Reduce lawn area with low maintenance plantings.
Hampton Wood Condominium Inc. (nonprofit) – Consisting of 304 units on approximately 70 hilly acres that contain 16-17 acres of grass, it is the largest complex in Summit County. Environmental efforts at Hampton Wood began with one resident and grew into a team effort. Keeping residents and park neighbors in mind, the association’s board of directors included an environmental policy in the 2010 revision of their rules and regulations and is the only known complex in Ohio to have such a formally stated environmental policy. As a result, improvements in sustainability over the past two years are:
- Reducing pollution and fuel consumption for lawn maintenance.
- Switching to organic pond treatments in lieu of chemicals.
- Incorporating native species and wildlife friendly species in landscaping projects.
- Initiating paper and aluminum recycling measures where there were none.
- Recycling trimmings and storm damage to flora for mulch, then purchasing that mulch.
- Reducing electricity usage for outdoor lighting.
On behalf of Keep Akron Beautiful – Greenprint for Akron, thank you to Habitat for Humanity, Laurel Lake Community Center, and Hampton Wood Condominum for participating in the 2012 Summit of Sustainability Awards.
We’ll be soon launching the beginning of the 2013 Summit of Sustainability Awards and will have two new categories: Businesses with less than 10 employees or less and a Governmental and/or Neighborhood Association. Visit http://www.summitofsustainability.org/ homepage for more info. Is your business ready to share sustainability efforts?