Northwest Earth Institute is excited to announce our nominees for The Change for Good Award, which will be given to an organization who in their own right has integrated sustainability principles into the core of their operations and, working in partnership with NWEI, has helped make our surrounding community a healthier, more sustainable place to live. The following five organizations have worked closely with NWEI over the years in engaging students, community members and employees in sustainability discussion and action.
Intel – As the number one purchaser of renewable energy credits in the US since 2008 (according to the EPA) and a strategic investor in renewable energy start-up companies, Intel is helping lead the development of the clean energy industry. Intel supports employee-initiated grassroots efforts, including the Intel Employee Sustainability Network (IESN), a chartered employee group. IESN, in place at Intel since 2004, provides employee networking, volunteering, and educational opportunities that align with Intel’s corporate environmental focus areas. The group’s activities have included Northwest Earth Institute discussion courses delivered at multiple Intel sites around the world, with more than 400 Intel employees having participated in NWEI discussion courses over the years.
The local (Oregon based) contingent of Intel employees are worthy of special recognition for their efforts, both internally and externally. In 2011, 35 Intel volunteers took the NWEI discussion course program into 20 local high schools, engaging over 400 high school students in the Greater Portland area. Using NWEI’s Just Below the Surface discussion course, Intel volunteers mentored high school students and facilitated dialog and critical thinking around the use of energy.
NW Natural – NW Natural is committed to reducing fossil fuel impact on local and global environments. Through promoting more efficient energy use and environmental stewardship, NW Natural is doing its part to limit carbon emissions and slow or stop the greenhouse effect—a proven factor in global climate change. Since at least 2007, NW Natural has been engaging employees in NWEI discussion courses. They have also been an active participant in and sponsor of NWEI’s EcoChallenge with employees committing to sustainability actions each Fall. Their paperless billing campaign donates significant funds to local nonprofits, including NWEI, and encourages customers to go paperless. NW Natural also funded an employee to serve as a consultant for NWEI in 2008. NW Natural is committed to offsetting 100 percent of the CO2 associated with natural gas heating use for the next five years.
Portland Community College – Since at least 2008, hundreds of students have participated in NWEI courses in a variety of classes. SPARC, which promotes sustainability throughout the curriculum, has actively connected faculty with NWEI resources and PCC faculty have organized ongoing NWEI discussion courses for faculty and staff. PCC Student Government has also hosted several NWEI courses on sustainability topics. From environmentally sound operating practices to a curriculum that supports sustainability, PCC demonstrates sustainability leadership. The Rock Creek Campus vermicomposting system creates a closed loop that takes pre-consumer cafeteria scrap, composts it and uses it in the garden to grow food to serve again in the cafeteria; the Sylvania Learning Garden is beginning to create a similar system. PCC has developed programs in renewable energy systems, alternative fuels, solar voltaic manufacturing and sustainable building. PCC Sylvania Campus President Linda Gerber is a member of NWEI’s Board of Directors, providing valuable input about NWEI’s ongoing collaboration with campuses.
The Standard – The story of sustainability at The Standard begins with a handful of employees who had a vision for the company’s future. They had participated in Northwest Earth Institute’s Choices for Sustainable Living discussion course, and it led them to form The Standard’s first Green Team with a few like-minded employees. Since then the Green Team has nearly 100 members, is guided by an executive-sponsored steering committee and is behind significant changes at The Standard, including powering the Tanasbourne Campus in Hillsboro, Oregon by Clean Wind renewable energy and solar panels, their newest building on the Tanasbourne Campus is LEED Gold-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council and is 34 percent more efficient than a conventional building, and the downtown Portland Standard Plaza building is also LEED Gold-certified and is Energy Star rated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The NWEI courses have been an integral part of The Standard’s ongoing Green Team activities, and The Standard has also been an active participant and sponsor of our EcoChallenge each Fall.
Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth – UUMFE has been connecting and inspiring Unitarian Universalist communities across North America to work for for environmental justice, spiritual renewal and shared reverence for Earth since 2005. Since building a partnership with Northwest Earth Institute in 2007, UUMFE has been able to engage over 1,000 members of UU fellowships throughout North America in NWEI discussion courses. In 2011 and 2012, Nancy King Smith, UUMFE Board Member, was able to organize over 20 NWEI discussion courses in Cleveland, Ohio, contributing to the creation of more local and sustainable food systems. In the past two years, UUMFE has brought Earth justice education and action campaigns to their members and congregations (NWEI serving as a primary delivery model) and created an advocacy coalition for environmental justice issues in collaboration with other Unitarian Universalist (UU) partners. UUMFE has been able to collect stories of success from their UU congregations, particularly around Earth Day.
Congrats to our nominees, and thanks to each organization for their continued partnership with NWEI as well as their work to create a more sustainable future! Stay tuned to find out which organization won the first ever Change for Good Award! We’ll announce the winner at our 20th Anniversary Celebration and then here on our blog.