Early last month, Air Alliance Houston signed up for the Houston Green Office Challenge. An initiative of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the friendly competition for commercial office tenants acknowledges participants for their achievements in greening their operations through Mayoral and media recognition.
Here at AAH, we’re green not for any special recognition, but for our own internal motivation. Surely, as the producers of the Earth Day Houston festival, it would be hypocritical of us to NOT try and be as green as possible. But many of us have been espousing sustainability our whole lives, and bringing those habits with us to the workplace was natural.
With much encouragement from our friends at the Office of Sustainability, we decided to go ahead and sign up for the challenge to see what suggestions they had for greening our office. After an initial assessment of our green initiatives – recycling paper, plastic, metal, glass, and electronics; composting kitchen waste; utilizing reusable dishes and cloth hand towels; taking advantage of natural light from windows to curb energy consumption; using remanufactured ink and toner; only having one printer in the office; printing in duplex; NOT PRINTING whenever possible; hosting a sustainability-related event; identifying ways to reduce toxic chemicals in the office; adopting a flexible-hours policy; etc. – we were already ranked number one in the challenge.
But for Air Alliance Houston, this was not enough! We really wanted to take the mission of the challenge to heart and increase the greenness of our office in order to fully embrace the intention set forth by the Mayor. So far, we’ve purchased low-flow water filters for all of our faucets; downloaded the GreenHouston app; and have made more sustainable food choices wherever possible.
We still have measures to take (like tracking water and electricity usage to decrease consumption, removing trash bins from each workstation, discontinuing junk mail, setting transportation goals) from the plethora of great suggestions listed on the challenge.
Though we have slipped from first place to second (great work to EDP Renewables!), we will continue to implement suggestions in order to make our office – and our planet – more green. I’m convinced that we can still pull ahead and win the Houston Green Office Challenge; but win or lose, there’s nothing quite like a bit of competition in honor of a GREAT cause to help improve everyone’s situation.