Sustainability at Nexant: Walking the Walk

Jun 28, 2017

Promoting sustainable practices for both our clients and ourselves

When I first joined Nexant 3 years ago, I was excited to work in a new industry and learn more about how we facilitate energy savings.  On day one, my colleagues at the office introduced themselves and asked if I’d like a coffee from the kitchen.  I opted for tea and took stock of the kitchen supplies.  I smiled when I saw only ceramic mugs. 

As an Environmental Studies major in college, and having led the “greening” of a restaurant and a few offices in my past, I had a test similar to Van Halen’s no brown M&Ms. (If they were present backstage, it was an indicator that their venue promoter did not take enough care in the band’s safety.) My brown M&Ms for a new employer was whether there were Styrofoam cups in the kitchen. This told me if the company had enough awareness, drive, and knowledge to have processes and culture around sustainability. I’m happy to say that Nexant passed with flying colors and is easily the greenest company I’ve worked for. This isn’t really a surprise considering what we do, but having sustainability policies and leaders, as well as metrics to measure and target our levels of emissions, is no small task.

To get more details on Nexant’s sustainability initiatives, I paired up with Nexant’s Sustainability Managers Wyley Hodgson and Cher Seruto. I learned that Nexant has a long history of incorporating environmentally-friendly practices. Not only does Nexant order from a green supplier that thoroughly researches and labels its products with a level of “green-ness”, but we also report specific emissions data through The Climate Registry, purchase carbon offsets, and conduct office-level activities related to waste, water, and energy efficiency.

Each of our North American offices has at least one Site Sustainability Coordinator that serves as their champion and documents activities to the corporate sustainability team. Coordinators collect building energy consumption data for emissions reporting, and report baseline office procurement, consumption, and waste production.

Nexant has been on the leading edge of corporate sustainability practices by reporting our greenhouse gas emissions since 2008.  As part of our membership to the Climate Registry, an independent verifier reviews our emissions data each year and the data becomes publicly accessible. Nexant has been purchasing carbon offsets since the 2011 emissions year to offset our verified emissions. We also use the emission reports to manage and reduce carbon in our operations.

As a company that offers measurement and verification of savings as a service to our clients, we know the importance of having a separate entity verify and confirm our progress toward a goal.  We walk the walk. Other members of The Climate Registry include other organizations in our field like The Cadmus Group, partners like MEEA (Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance), institutions like Harvard and Stanford Universities, U.S. State Departments and local governments, car manufacturers, hotels, airlines, and public utilities. There are over 300 organizations that participate.

Data collected by coordinators from each office is tracked by the corporate sustainability team so we can document how emissions and consumption patterns change over time.  The graph below shows our emissions history and trends per full time employee (FTE).

What’s next for our sustainability initiatives?  More brainstorming, sharing, and engagement.  As each office contributes, we will continuously improve and create common goals to work towards.  In July we will start using a Green Office Scorecard, which allows each office to document and track environmental activities for recognition at the corporate level. This will quantify some specific environmentally-friendly activities like composting, freecycling, and Meatless Monday.

The Green Office Scoring System will help offices compare results across the company, provide a baseline from which we can set goals, and inspire additional efforts through collaboration. By bringing more visibility and attention to savings—both from our implementation work for others and from our own carbon footprint—we can engage more staff and work to achieve new goals.

Integrity: our practices match our work

Nexant’s energy efficiency programs in the U.S. over the last calendar year have saved roughly 269 GWh and 360,500 therms for utility customers - combined, this is the equivalent of averting the greenhouse gas emissions of ~ 5 million vehicle miles traveled.