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Scripps Florida’s Small Green Steps Go Far



Scripps Florida’s Small Green Steps Go Far

By Cindy Brauer

Shrinking an institution’s environmental footprint is a step-by-step process believes the new Scripps Florida Green Team chair.

“Sustainability isn’t just one thing,” says Peter Norris, director of the Environmental Health & Safety group at Scripps Florida. “It’s the accumulation of a great many small things that, in total, have an impact.”

Accelerating the effort are new Green Team goals for 2013 that address a wide range of environmental issues—from green chemistry to eco-responsible vendors—and an expanded team membership.

Broadening Efforts

The team’s 2013 agenda includes broadening the campus’s recycling program. In addition to the longstanding mixed-paper recycling program, the team aims to improve the metals, glass, plastic and e-waste disposal habits on the Florida campus through an awareness- and participation-building program. Norris has also collaborated with a local landscaping company to recycle clean wooden pallets; the landscapers grind the pallets into wooden chips to use in planting ground coverage.

Florida’s recycling efforts now extend to the cafeteria, where leftover food is packaged weekly in aluminum trays and delivered to El Sol, a local community resource center providing support services to the area’s immigrant and day labor populations.

“Laura Niedernhofer and Andi Cleveland organized this new project in February, working with the El Sol and Scripps Food Service staff Christina Dixon and Craig Patterson,” said Norris. “Every Thursday morning, we deliver six to 10 trays of leftovers, ranging from pasta and meat preparations to rice and desserts.”

In another new project, the Green Team has joined forces with the Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority. The “Adopt-a-Spot” clean-up campaign calls for a group of campus volunteers to collect trash and litter twice annually along a section of road, including two large storm-water ponds, adjacent to the campus. The three-hour effort is not only good for Mother Nature, but also helps foster good community relations, according to Norris, who was previously involved in a similar clean-up program for the Charles River in Cambridge, MA.

This year’s Earth Day celebration with continue with a Bike-to-Work Day, inaugurating a long-term Bike-to-Work program on the Florida campus expected to begin May 1.

Promoting Sustainability Measures

Other 2013 Green Team goals include:

  • Promoting green chemistry practices; color-coded fume hood labels have been distributed that list preferred, usable and undesirable solvents, with suggested alternatives.
  • Encouraging use of energy-efficient products and equipment to cut costs and energy consumption; replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED fixtures reduces lifetime fixture energy use by as much as 75 percent
  • Identifying and encouraging use of ecologically responsible vendors, particularly those with recyclable and minimal packaging, to cut waste collection costs.

The team continues to develop additional sustainability workplace measures, which build on campus structures’ ecology-minded features, such as ample use of natural lighting, north-south site orientation for Buildings A and C, reflective roofing, native plant landscaping, motion-triggered office and lab lighting and high-performance, shaded and tinted windows. Green Team-promoted practices include recycling oils and plastic waste containers, covering bike racks and using “green” cleaning products and pest control methods.

Raising Awareness

A final ongoing team initiative is maintaining a metrics-rich and informative sustainability web page. The site offers updated energy, water, recycling and carbon footprint statistics, plus details on Green Team activities and projects.

“It’s all about sharing the information and making people aware,” said Norris. “A team priority is to educate the employees to try to change the culture. Once they have the information, people can begin to understand its relevance.”

In addition to Norris, Florida members of the Green Team include original members Colin Easson and Mark Van Hoy, former Green Team chair Carol Swete, Eddy Batiste Tom Carroll, John Croft, Margaret Davis, Richard Hawkins, Tim Jackson, Jeremy Lohman, Laura Michaels, Laura Niedernhofer, Adrian Orozco, Hajeung Park, Sheri Resnick, Marisa Sanchez and Diane Wildman. 

Green Team members on the Scripps California campus, who are engaged in related but separate initiatives, fully support their Florida colleagues’ efforts. “As an institution we do what we can to be a good corporate citizen,” said Vice President of Facilities Pete Herold. “It’s good for the environment, but also has other important benefits, including cost savings.”

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The Scripps Florida Green Team now recycles leftover food from the cafeteria each week. Here, Craig Patterson, food service director, prepares aluminum trays for delivery to El Sol, a local community center.


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As part of the local “Adopt-a-Spot” program, Scripps Florida has committed to collect litter along public site adjacent to the campus twice a year. Shown picking up trash at the site’s storm-water pools are
Qingzhang Zhu, Marsha D’Souza, and Peter Norris (left to right).