One of our signature activities at Clean Yield Asset Management is engaging with the companies we’re invested in to advance their sustainability practices. We therefore feel a strong obligation to “walk the walk” with equal commitment.
Our sustainability challenge is both easy and difficult. We’re a small firm (seven employees). We occupy one floor of a historic building in a small town in Vermont (except for two employees who work remotely). Our direct environmental impacts are therefore fairly small, and we’ve addressed much of the “low-hanging fruit,” for example, by installing efficient lighting and appliances and purchasing internal storm windows. The challenge is to identify additional steps we can take to lessen our environmental impacts, and to leverage our modest purchasing power for greater social benefit through our supply chain.
Clean Yield adopted a Sustainability Commitment in 2011. What follows are some of the measures we’re taking in accordance with that commitment to diminish our sustainability footprint.
Our biggest environmental impacts are made through our electricity usage, employee commuting and travel, and paper usage.
We have installed energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and use Energy Star-certified appliances with automatic shutdown or “sleep” features. We also installed programmable thermostats to reduce the electric usage from heating our space.
An abundance of windows in our Norwich office reduces our reliance on overhead lighting, and two sun tubes in the darker spaces reduce the need for electrical lighting on many days.
Our employee manual provides staff with additional guidance on energy conservation measures specific to our office.
In 2015, we used 15,600 kWh of electricity in our Norwich office.
Since December 2015, we’ve been paying an elective premium on our Green Mountain Power electricity bill toward Cow Power, a program that creates incentives for farmers to feed cow manure into an anaerobic digester on site at the farm. Methane produced from the digester is then used to produce electricity.
Since the program launched in 2005, Cow Power’s 14 partner farms have produced over 134,000,000 kWh through July of 2016. In 2015, these farms met the electrical energy needs of over 3,200 average homes.
Five of our seven employees drive to work and two work from home. The average commute for the five who drive is about 11 miles. We’ve calculated that our total commuting emissions for 2015 was about 15 tons of carbon equivalent, and our total emissions from business travel, 16 tons.
Our Sustainability Commitment issues specific guidance to employees on ways to reduce paper usage. We also offer clients the option of receiving their quarterly financial reports and newsletter electronically, which most have elected to do.
We purchase only unbleached and non-chlorinated FSC-certified paper, and use soy-based inks for our stationery and promotional materials.
Our water usage is de minimus. We have lessened it by installing low-flow plumbing equipment.
We recycle paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum and glass, and responsibly dispose of batteries, electronic equipment and other hazardous waste. We purchase environmentally friendly cleaning solutions for the office, soy-based or low-VOC inks, unbleached paper and organic food products when available.