Sustainability Initiatives for a Better Tomorrow
At SmartEvals, we create innovative technologies to improve the learning experience for college students and educators alike. And our commitment to a brighter future doesn’t end there. Through investments in sustainability, conservation and waste reduction, we’re setting the industry pace for environmental responsibility—and making the world a cleaner, greener place.
A Global Responsibility
As a technology company, SmartEvals’ success is predicated on forward-thinking innovation. Just as we are driven by our ability to make an impact in higher education, we understand our responsibility to inspire positive change in the broader global community as well. This spirit goes to the very heart of what we do, and it governs the way in which we interact with the world around us. “I have always had the belief that American companies need to put environmental sustainability first,” says SmartEvals president Larry Piegza, referring to the many sustainability initiatives undertaken since founding the company in 2001. Indeed, whether large, small, conventional, or innovative, SmartEvals’ green projects have created a culture that values our environment and seeks to make a difference through teamwork. By both effecting change directly and creating awareness for environmental issues, SmartEvals staff is motivated to make a positive impact in our local, national or global communities. Read on for a glimpse of the steps we’re taking to create a better world for all of us.
SmartEvals' bee garden project converted 500 sq ft of former asphalt parking area to a wildflower bed, providing habitat and a food source for endangered bee populations, as well as welcome green space to the suburban community.
Harnessing Green Energy
In the summer of 2016, SmartEvals completed installation of 80 solar panels to power its datacenter operations. Our switch to a solar strategy distinguishes us among the first in our community to do so. In fact, solar panels were so new to the town that at the start of the project, no building permit guidelines were yet in place to approve construction. When complete, the solar panels are expected to produce 150% of the average energy consumed by SmartEvals’ operations, while a net metering arrangement with a regional energy provider will allow SmartEvals to draw on the local grid for intermittent energy needs, reducing company dependence on wasteful battery backups. The excess solar energy will be diverted back to the local grid, further impacting our community by providing a source of green energy for our neighbors.
Large Steps, Small Footprint
There’s no doubt that our daily lives take a toll on our environment. From commuter traffic to energy usage, SmartEvals works to reduce its carbon footprint by adapting the work environment to keep staff comfortable and productive, while improving the overall efficiency of the office space. Understanding that maintenance of physical office space can pose significant cost to the environment, SmartEvals has instituted a partial reliance on remote work arrangements through the use of a virtual office. This minimizes the space needed for on-site staff, and reduces pollution generated by commuter traffic. To further address carbon emissions due to transportation demands, SmartEvals insists on the purchase and use of hybrid company vehicles, and has introduced programs to encourage and incentivize the use of greener transportation methods like bicycles, public transit, and carpools. Along with these measures, SmartEvals has converted 8% of a former parking area to green space large enough to fully offset carbon emissions generated by employee commuting needs.
SmartEvals continuously implements new strategies for minimizing energy consumption for its physical office space. One recent project saw SmartEvals engineer its duct work to redirect heat energy from its datacenter server room to help meet the heating needs of the office area. In warmer months, the company relies on natural ventilation as much as possible to minimize energy use for cooling purposes. Other familiar tactics such as taking advantage of natural light, installing task lighting and powering off non-critical electronics also aid in reducing energy consumption within the office.
“While SmartEvals has a long history of green initiatives—from distributing wildflower seeds, local produce and compact fluorescent bulbs to employees, to installing solar panels, to repurposing 8% of our asphalt lot for a bee garden—I didn’t realize how much of a contribution we were making. As it turns out, the day that SmartEvals applied for certification through the Green Business Bureau, I was thrilled to find out that we already met the highest level of certification offered. This achievement confirmed that we had already been as green as possible for years!”
LARRY PIEGZA, PRESIDENT, SMARTEVALS.COM
Environmental responsibility starts with cultivating an appreciation for the spaces in which we live and work. At SmartEvals, we’ve taken steps to conserve area wildlife and beautify our community by converting a 500 sq ft section of our asphalt lot to a wildflower garden. The garden provides habitat and a food source for endangered bees while also serving as a visual reminder of the impact our actions can have on the environment. To further extend the reach of the project and make the most of the environmental awareness that the garden generates, SmartEvals distributes free wildflower seeds to staff to encourage cultivation of bee gardens in other locations.
The best way to deal with waste is to not create it in the first place. That’s why the entire SmartEvals family works together to minimize consumption of resources and to repurpose and reuse materials whenever possible. To reduce waste resulting from typical operations, SmartEvals has been a longtime adopter of familiar best practices such as setting economy duplex modes as the default for office printers, supplying filtered water instead of bottled, utilizing reusable products such as rechargeable batteries and cleaning cloths or sponges, and sourcing office supplies from post-consumer recycled materials. To raise awareness about mindful consumption in the office, all trash receptacles are labeled as either “recycling” or “landfill.” SmartEvals staff is also actively engaged in area recycling programs for paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metals. When retired from use, assets, office equipment and other items are either recycled through appropriate electronics programs or donated for use by other organizations.
"It’s very reassuring to be part of a company making an active push towards being more green," says SmartEvals staff member Jonathan Cropp of the company’s culture of finding reward in the promise of a better tomorrow. Like so many others at SmartEvals, Cropp reflects a spirit of teamwork in pursuit of achieving net carbon neutrality. While such persistence has already led to a Platinum rating by the Green Business Bureau, SmartEvals continually looks for new steps—large and small—that we can take to positively impact our world.
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