Clean air, clean water, safe and healthy food and a sustainable environment are essential building blocks for healthy living. In 2018, we continued to embed sustainability and environmental health into the company’s everyday activities and advocacy, for the benefit of our employees, members, employer customers and the community.
Healthy eating, with less waste
With nearly 620,000 meals served annually in the cafeterias at our Boston, Quincy and Hingham offices, we have a prime opportunity to advance sustainability and environmental health in our own buildings. We have partnered with a food service management company, FLIK Hospitality, that shares our commitment to offering healthy, safe and sustainably produced food while reducing food waste, conserving energy, reducing packaging and conserving water. To limit the waste we send to landfills, we compost and offer reusable tableware whenever possible.
With FLIK, we support sustainable production methods and better access to healthy foods by purchasing from suppliers at CommonWealth Kitchen, a Boston-based collaborative that provides shared kitchens and business assistance to help entrepreneurs build food companies, create jobs and strengthen the regional food economy. We are also purchasing more meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics that can contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our food and the environment. In 2018, 26 percent of the ground beef we served was raised without therapeutic use of antibiotics.
We love getting our hands dirty
Our company garden program, developed in collaboration with The Trustees, continued to thrive in 2018 as more than 160 employees attended gardening workshops and tended the soil at our Hingham and Quincy offices. At the end of the harvest season, employee gardeners hosted farmers' markets with some of the produce grown in the two gardens (kale, chard, cucumbers, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, sweet peppers and beets) and also held farmers markets in conjunction with local organic suppliers. The money raised was donated to support food and nutrition programs at Father Bill’s & MainSpring in Brockton, and unsold produce was donated to Interfaith Social Services, which runs a food pantry serving thousands of South Shore families.
Our clean energy collaborations pay off
Last fall, we received our first 2.6 megawatts of solar renewable energy credits from our investment in five solar arrays that are located in the Worcester county towns of Hopedale and Mendon. The solar projects, owned by Ameresco and co-developed by BlueWave Solar, will reduce our corporate electricity bills, increase the amount of power generated by community solar in Massachusetts by about 13 percent, and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 6,300 metric tons, the equivalent of taking 1,300 cars off the road. The projects also will allow nearly 200 residents and small businesses in the Blackstone Valley to lower their electricity costs and reduce carbon emissions.
During 2018, we continued our support of the Environmental League of Massachusetts as members of the ELM Corporate Council. Last year, the council advocated for policies that improve the health of our environment and our residents, and drive both economic growth and sustainability. This resulted in an increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard and a commitment from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to work with nine other states to design a regional approach to reduce transportation emissions.
We also collaborated with the U.S. Green Building Council Massachusetts Chapter to host the first-ever Women in Green event. It provided an exciting opportunity for women in environmental, architectural, real estate and other professions to meet with industry peers and discuss ways to build a better world where all are involved in leadership and decision-making.