Awards showcase innovative technology, conservation and sustainable practices
SPOKANE— The Association of Washington Business today honored 10 Washington state companies for their innovative and environmentally sustainable practices with its 2010 Environmental Excellence Awards. The honors were presented at a luncheon held today at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, in conjunction with the association’s annual Spring Board Meeting.
“Whether it’s raising Pacific coho salmon in freshwater or engineering the first hybrid tugboat, Washington state businesses are finding innovative solutions that are both economically and environmentally successful,” said AWB President Don Brunell. “The 10 companies we celebrate today represent some of the best examples of free enterprise and innovation our state has to offer. Their work is essential to helping jump-start our economy, preserving precious natural resources and moving Washington forward.”
AWB’s annual Environmental Excellence Awards recognize member companies of all sizes and types across the state for their initiative, innovation and outstanding achievements in environmental compliance, protection and conservation. The awards focus on: actions that create a better environment; products that help environmental quality; actions to prevent or reduce environmental problems and conserve resources; and processes, including education and business operations, that improve the environment.
This year, more than 30 companies were nominated for the awards. A panel of AWB members reviewed the applications based on:
· The extent to which companies exceed regulatory requirements;
· Unique and innovative environmental solutions;
· How transferable the practices are to other businesses;
· Changes the companies have made to achieve success;
· Informational outreach to internal and external audiences; and
· Tangible economic and environmental results of the changes.
"This year's winners embody the values necessary to move our state forward as a leader in the green economy, inspiring others to join the ‘movement,’” said David Allen, executive vice president of McKinstry Company, during keynote remarks at today’s awards luncheon. “AWB has stepped up and connected the notion of economic vitality in our state to the stewardship of our resources, a connection many have failed to understand.
“"The best solutions to our environmental challenges today will not be found in the ‘big ideas’ but rather, in the day-to-day focus on sustainability in all we do,” he added. “It is this message that AWB has so admirably woven into the spirit of their membership."
The 2010 AWB Environmental Excellence winners include:
AquaSeed Corporation, Seattle
AquaSeed Corp. didn’t set out to be part of a program raising fish for food, owner Per Heggelund told Scientific American magazine. The company was focused instead on the genetics — how to breed salmon for the normal traits of survival. In the process, it ended up developing the only method of farming Pacific coho salmon to receive the stamp of approval from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. The Seafood Watch distinction means these salmon, sold under the label SweetSpring, will receive a green “Best Choice” rating on the group’s website. The salmon also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, placing them on Seafood Watch’s new Super Green List. The list means the fish are good for human health without harming the ocean.
Green Enterprise & Technology
Foss Maritime Company, Seattle
In 2008, Foss Maritime set a corporate goal of leaving “zero trace.” That means the maritime service company aims to have no adverse impact on the environment, especially the water. It’s a lofty goal, and one that likely will not be achieved in the lifetime of current employees. It has, however, inspired tremendous progress. Steps include everything from converting its entire vessel fleet to Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel and building double-hulled barges to purchasing 100 percent recycled paper. It’s probably best exemplified, though, in the Carolyn Dorothy, the world’s first and only hybrid tugboat. Foss introduced the vessel in 2009, and it has exceeded expectations for emission reduction, cost savings and workplace health. Hybrid technology is particularly well-suited to harbor tugs, which are called upon to perform tasks across the entire power spectrum, but only operate at full power rarely and for short periods.
Mercer Wine Estates LLC, Prosser (fewer than 100 employees)
Mercer Wine Estates, a family-owned operation that produces wine through a partnership with the Mercer and Hogue families, has a keen understanding of the importance of protecting land for future generations. The farmland that it relies upon now for its livelihood was settled by the families in the late 1800s. Some steps the winery has taken to ensure the land remains protected for future generations include construction of an energy-efficient building made from 20-ton concrete tilt-up wall panels. They also use a sophisticated centralized computer program to control hot water, wine tank refrigeration, warehouse and barrel room cooling and heating and a juice heat exchanger. In addition, the winery has taken steps to reduce power consumption, and new water management practices have reduced water consumption up to 50 percent of the industry average per gallon of wine.
Burgerville, Vancouver (more than 100 employees)
Burgerville’s belief in sustainable practices permeates everything it does, starting with its most important ingredient: beef. Since 2004, the Vancouver-based restaurant chain has used Country Natural Beef, a 100 percent natural product with no added antibiotics or hormones. The cattle are raised for most of their lives on open rangeland and pasture by a co-op that Burgerville helped to grow large enough to meet its volume needs. Last year, Burgerville took another important step by partnering with Food Alliance Certified sustainable growers, ranchers and processors. Food Alliance is the most credible and comprehensive third-party certification for sustainable food in North America. Since 2007, the company has used an employee-led composting and recycling program, and it fuels its restaurants and corporate office with renewable energy. Last year marked the fourth straight year that Burgerville purchased wind credits equal to 100 percent of its energy use and the fourth year in a row of recycling all of its used trans-fat free canola oil into biofuel.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle (more than 100 employees)
In 1975, when the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center began, it was spread out among many buildings in Seattle. Since consolidating in the 1980s on a 14.3-acre campus on Lake Union, its leaders have made environmental excellence and sustainable practices a top priority. The center now includes six buildings, the most recent of which received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or “LEED” certification. LEED is an industry recognition that a construction project or building can attain by utilizing environmentally friendly building practices during construction or remodeling. During the campus development, 75 percent of construction waste was recycled and 20 percent of materials used in the construction were recycled materials. Existing buildings are continually retrofitted to keep up with changing technology, as well. Since 1990, the research center has reduced its overall carbon footprint by 47 percent. The commitment extends to water conservation. By harvesting groundwater, it conserves 540,000 gallons of domestic water annually. In addition, many chemicals used in research are salvaged and reused, and employees are encouraged to avoid using single-occupant vehicles to get to work. More than 200 employees bike to work each day, and the center offers biking workshops and financial incentives for bike tune-ups. Another 1,750 use the center’s subsidized Hutch Pass incentive to ride public transportation, 423 participate in carpools and 74 use vanpools.
Port Blakely Tree Farms, L.P., Tumwater (fewer than 100 employees)
Port Blakely Tree Farms implemented the first voluntary safe harbor agreement in Washington state last year, demonstrating once again its long-held and firm belief in responsible forest stewardship. The agreement calls on the company to voluntarily create thousands of acres of habitat for the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, two federally listed wildlife species. In exchange, the company receives assurances against future regulatory restrictions. The project covers the “Morton Block,” a 45,000-acre section of the company’s forest land southwest of Mount Rainier near the town of Morton. The collaborative spirit in which the 60-year agreement was reached is an example of Port Blakely’s innovative approach to managing forestland, both for wildlife and habitat enhancement and profitable and sustainable timber production.
Sterile Surgical Systems, Tumwater (more than 100 employees)
Thanks to a pair of major initiatives, Sterile Surgical Systems — a small, family-owned company that specializes in medical linens and sterile, reusable textiles for hospital operating rooms — is making huge progress toward resource conservation. Last December, the company implemented a water recycling system that will reduce water and sewer usage by 70 percent. So far, it is on track to save 7.2 million gallons of water per year, reduce carbon emissions by 400,000 pounds and stop 660 gallons of sodium hydroxide from entering the wastewater treatment plant. A month later, the company implemented a plastic recycling program and partnered with Valley Medical Center, one of its major clients. Now, instead of going to a landfill, plastic waste is used to form new material for the construction of synthetic decks. It expects to recycle more than 25,000 pounds of plastic each year. But the company’s not done yet. This summer, Sterile Surgical Systems will install a gravity-fed rainwater recovery system that will collect 25,000 gallons of rainwater per year from its roof.
PAML, Spokane (more than 100 employees)
Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories or PAML, a Spokane-based medical laboratory that performs specialized testing for hospitals, has a fleet of 162 vehicles that make more than 1 million stops per year. The fleet is the public face of the laboratory, and the vehicles are polished and well maintained. Older vehicles are regularly replaced with newer, more efficient vehicles. Five years ago, PAML embarked on a quest to do more for the environment than maintain and replace its vehicles. It wanted to find a solution to make daily courier runs — that total 5 million miles per year — as efficient as possible. It started experimenting with route-mapping software and handheld devices for couriers that provided real-time access to route information. By scheduling routes more efficiently, avoiding peak congestion hours, coordinating pickups and other changes, PAML has decreased annual mileage by an unbelievable 1.5 million miles — a 30 percent reduction. The company has found the benefits far outweigh the cost of the new technology, and has begun presenting its solution to audiences around the country.
Stewardship Partners, Seattle (fewer than 100 employees)
Stewardship Partners is a non-profit conservation organization that helps homeowners and businesses access technical, financial and marketing resources available from the government and other sources to help steward the environment. Current programs include Salmon-Safe Certification, an eco-label and marketing program that recognize local farms and vineyards that protect water quality and habitat for the benefit of salmon and other wildlife. In just four years, more than 60 farms and 25 vineyards have been certified and the program has been featured in numerous local and national media sources. Another program, the Rain Garden Challenge, educates homeowners, institutional property managers, landscape managers and others on how to install rain gardens in urban landscapes. More than 1,000 people have attended rain garden classes, and 30 rain gardens have been installed at schools, libraries and parks.
Valley Medical Center, Renton (more than 100 employees)
Each day, more than 8,000 people visit the main campus of Valley Medical Center, making it the equivalent of a small city. That’s why the medical center made resource conservation and pollution prevention a priority. Initiatives include numerous changes to the central utility plant, including installing new features that allow for the use of outside air to cool water. Additional efforts touch on nearly every aspect of the campus, including the use of more efficient lighting, reusing existing facilities rather than building new when possible, installing light-colored roofing material for maximum energy efficiency, and replacing courier cars with hybrid vehicles. The medical center even switched to a new flexible approach to patient meal delivery that has improved patient satisfaction, reduced costs and decreased food waste. As a result, Valley Medical is on track this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its food waste by more than 70 metric tons.
About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 7,000 members representing 650,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit http://www.awb.org