A big Green Thumbs Up this month to Sprint. At the Sprint headquarters campus in Overland Park, Kan., the company has been committed to green efforts for a number of years. When the headquarters was constructed about 12 years ago, it turned a water recapture system into a duck pond that houses a variety of wildlife and captures water runoff from the 225-acre campus. The company does composting on site (pictured below), and 75 percent of the HQ energy use comes from wind power.
But that’s just some of the many ways Sprint is green. The Green Office Blog talked with Alicia R. Martin, sustainability manager, real estate for Sprint, and Alex Hahn, Sprint community and public relations manager, about the company’s green efforts. Martin shared a long list of green initiatives, including green parking, composting, an energy management program, waterless urinal trials, LED garage lighting trials, a bicycle commuter incentive program, prairie grass restoration, natural pesticides, green cleaning and discounted refills for drinks in reusable cups.
An important part of Sprint’s green office program is executive-level support. Even though the company has been focused on the environment for more than a decade, CEO Dan Hesse – who joined Sprint in December 2008 – has made it a top priority. “He made it clear to all that the environment is and will be a key priority for Sprint and he published it as one of the pillars of his corporate scorecard,” Martin explained. This kind of executive support, she added, is one of the best ways Sprint has been able to maintain its focus on green efforts.
Show them the money
In this down economy, businesses may be tempted to cut “unnecessary” items, such as recycling programs or switching to energy-efficient light bulbs. But Sprint has shown green efforts can save companies a sizable amount of money.
• In January 2008, Sprint removed all foam cups from break rooms across the nation and offered reusable cups to interested employees. The savings: $135,000 a year. And this effort kept 5 million cups a year out of the trash.
• Last year, the company implemented Sprint Mobile Workforce, which allows employees the opportunity to work from home. Not only does it foster work/life balance and give employees greater flexibility, it saved Sprint $20 million annually.
As Martin pointed out, it’s tough to argue with policies and practices that save millions of dollars.
Think before you print
Most offices use plenty of paper, and Sprint was no exception. Martin said printing less was one of the easiest ways to make the office greener.
• Think about which documents are really needed in hard copy form.
• Use virtual or online tools. Sprint’s iDigitize program encourages employees to use PDF printing to desktop or eCopy Desktop as well as scanning or e-mailing documents.
• Fax from the desktop, using WebFax or other software.
• Eliminate cover pages.
• Use laptops. Hahn said Sprint likes to use PowerPoint presentations, but instead of printing a copy of the presentation for everyone, employees simply bring their laptops to the meeting and follow along on the computer.
In 2007, Sprint purchased 59 million fewer sheets of 8 ½ x 11 paper. The savings: $295,000 annually, not to mention saving about 7,000 trees.
Good-bye, trash cans
Hahn works in the company’s Reston, Va., office where desk trash cans have been replaced with recycling bins. The goal is to change employees’ habits, he said. It gets them consciously thinking about whether they should throw something away or recycle it.
Martin said the Sprint HQ will be eliminating a similar trial program on a smaller scale. The short-term goal is to recycle more, she said, but the ultimate end goal is to see recycling numbers go down because the company is simply using less.
It can be easy to get wrapped up in the green movement and think you have to take on the biggest project, but Martin advises to start small.
“Do not get caught up in trying to have every initiative and every program perfect before rolling it out. Take small steps when and where you can, track your metrics from the very beginning and add new programs as opportunities arise. Eventually, the small steps and new efforts will evolve into a robust program that you and your company can be proud of. “
Want more info on Sprint? Follow the company on Twitter @SprintGreenNews.
If your company would like to be featured as a Green Office Profile, send an e-mail to holly (at) hollyannfisher.com.
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