EDITOR’S NOTE: We want to learn how other organizations approach sustainability, so we’ve published a series of posts featuring innovative companies and people who are doing their part to support our planet. See below to read a guest blog from Dawn James at the lauckgroup, an interior architecture firm that helped us become the first commercial interior to be awarded LEED Platinum certification in Austin.
What is the mission of lauckgroup and how does sustainability fit into it?
We are an interior architecture firm where creativity and strategic thinking converge to create innovative yet functional environments. Our employees and interns aim to preserve resources for the long term by promoting sustainable design and by implementing actions within and outside the office that reduces material consumption, waste and our carbon footprint.
Can you explain your sustainability efforts and goals?
Sustainability is incorporated into daily activities and choices in every aspect of our business, including our design specifications, facilities, business travel, and our interaction with our clients, consultants and contractors.
We have a formal sustainability policy that is reviewed annually by the officers and adjusted based on the company goals for the next year. Throughout the year, we re-evaluate our sustainable processes and procedures. By participating in continuing education courses geared towards LEED and innovations in sustainability, we learn new methods of implementing sustainable strategies that will better our firm, our clients, and the environment.
We strive to preserve resources and implement actions to reduce material consumption, waste and our carbon footprint. By design, our offices are conveniently located near public transportation and we have employee incentives for carpooling and public transit. Additionally, nearby basic services, such as restaurants, grocers and fitness centers, make it convenient for our employees to further minimize the use of vehicles during the day. Our offices are located in buildings that have policies and procedures to minimize their impact on the environment. This includes a building recycling program and ENERGY STAR® status.
We purchase supplies that contain recycled content or are produced from renewable resources, are printed with soy-based or equivalent ink, as well as offer less packaging to reduce waste. We seek to find catering services that support local and in-season food and when included, provide biodegradable paper products. We also installed water and ice dispensers in all offices, and invested in dishes and utensils to minimize waste from disposables.
Why is sustainability important to lauckgroup? How do your employees and/or customers participate?
Commitment to sustainable design, employee training and support of continuing education for our professionals are part of our core values. Education of staff and clients is viewed as key to successful projects. We regularly host continuing education programs that focus on sustainability. Over 85% of our professional staff are LEED Accredited Professionals.
Regardless of a client’s desire to seek LEED certification, our studio philosophy is to design to best practices using LEED standards as benchmarks. Sustainability is woven into the design process as a holistic approach across all disciplines. Our specifications are written to favor recycled content and local material sources. We encourage clients to engage in a renewable energy contract and non-toxic cleaning practices.
We also practice what we preach. Our most recent effort included overhauling our material resource library to remove all finishes with substances listed on the Living Building Challenge Red List (PDF, page 29). We challenge our product suppliers to provide greater transparency and take life cycle assessment into consideration when specifying materials.
In addition we challenge our consultants such as mechanical electrical and plumbing engineers to specify plumbing fixtures and HVAC equipment that exceed minimum code standards. We partner with lighting designers to ensure that daylight is maximized and artificial light provided has the least environmental impact while still producing the best aesthetic for the client. Our construction specifications are written to divert debris from the landfills.
What advice would you give other organizations that are trying to get their sustainability initiatives off the ground?
Engaging employees as stakeholders in sustainable efforts is key to successful implementation. Knowing the economic and social benefits of green initiatives will promote greater acceptance of such policies.
Small changes in habits and purchasing practices also can make a big difference. For example, simple gestures, such as implementing a recycling program and sourcing recycled paper products, will help reduce waste and create an environment of awareness.
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To read about more businesses and people focused on sustainability, visit our “Sustainability Stories” archive by clicking here.