At Acumium, we have sustainability in our DNA. While other companies may struggle to get executive buy-in and budget for their green initiatives, here all systems are a go from the top down. Dan Costello, our founder and CEO, grew up in a large family. He and his siblings were taught to turn off lights when leaving rooms, not waste food, treasure belongings, care for their surroundings and be considerate of others. These values are alive and well in Acumium’s culture and have paid off. A fledgling, one-man show just 15 years ago has grown up to serve hundreds of businesses worldwide with some 30 plus employees.
Over the years our green initiatives have been of the grassroots variety. That is until we became one of ten Sustain Dane’s 2016 MPower Business Champions. MPower businesses are at the forefront of Big S Sustainability, a wide-angle approach that supports the intertwined components of community, economy, and environment.
Our involvement led to the creation of an internal green team to add structure and accountability to our efforts. We’re learning how to get people engaged, vet proposed projects, fine-tune implementation and better track results. Networking with other like-minded companies and individuals through the program has been invaluable.
As 2016 draws to a close, we wanted to take a look back at what changes we made around the office.
1. Picked Low-hanging Fruit. Our office building was built in the mid-1980s and is not naturally energy efficient. One quick fix involved installing LED lighting, which is both more efficient and more pleasing.
2. Created Win-Wins. One area of our parking lot is brutally sunny in the summer. Employees avoided parking there because their cars would get too hot. The solution was to install a carport, which created an opportunity to add solar panels. Voilà, the win-win: make employees happy and generate efficient power.
3. Capitalized on Opportunity. Having a renewable energy source is like getting new toy—it opens your mind to possibilities. We now have an electric vehicle employees can drive for business needs. Using this vehicle for just 15,000 miles a year offsets its carbon footprint.
4. Practice Frugality. Unlike many digital companies, we’re fairly economical in technology spending and don’t have extra hardware sitting idle. We use low-power thin client computers instead of purchasing individual workstations. Also, we were early adopters of cloud computing and have moved a lot of our customers’ sites and software into the cloud. This frees us from reliance on a bank of servers and the cost of buying and maintaining them.
5. Gave Back. Last month we sponsored the Badger Bioneers Conference, a gathering of Sustain Dane members who share our commitment to Big S Sustainability. The event celebrated innovation, learning, and networking—three of our favorite things.
6. Went Hands On—Literally. One of the first projects from our green team was an effort to reduce paper waste. We now have cloth hand towels in all restrooms instead of paper towels. An added benefit is that the nicely rolled towels add a spa-like feel and the consensus is they dry better. Employees take turns laundering the towels at home.
7. Walked the Talk. Some of the successes we are most proud of come from sharing sustainability best practices with clients. For example, we helped one customer retool their business application workflow, which resulted in huge reductions in paper waste, improved turnaround times through automation, and reduced labor costs. Overall, they were able to provide more value to their customers as costs went down.
What’s on the horizon for 2017? In a word: more. More focus on what is right for our business to ensure its longevity. More projects from our green team as they hit their stride. More creative, cost-effective and resource-efficient uses of technology. More involvement in local sustainability efforts to connect with and learn from like-minded companies and individuals. More collaboration with clients to help them adopt Big S thinking.
Fortunately, we have the cultural underpinnings of sustainability in place to allow us to focus on long-term, big picture endeavors that yield continued success. Odds are there will be some stumbles along the way. For example, our early composting efforts resulted in a project-quashing fruit fly invasion. Kermit said it best: “It’s not easy being green.” But since we’re hardwired for sustainability, we wouldn’t have it any other way.