Engineering Sustainable Change
By: Susan Blythe
It’s that time of year when time melts away quickly as we work on year-end deadlines, start thinking in earnest about the work ahead in 2016, and do our best to carve out time for our families and
the holidays. It’s also a time for reflection on what we’ve accomplished this year and those things that keep us feeling energized about what we do and how we do it. For me, one of these things is Brendle Group’s internal sustainability team called CAOS, which stands for Community and Operational Sustainability. Team CAOS is a voluntary endeavor that gives staff members an opportunity to practice what we preach in our own buildings and community. It also keeps us true to Brendle Group’s purpose – applying our engineering and consulting talents to create lasting impacts that sustain and inspire our communities and our world. It’s a lofty purpose that can seem a bit daunting. But what I’ve found is that the old saying is true: Taking care of the seemingly small things enables the big things to happen. At Brendle Group, being mindful of how we run our daily business, regularly caring for our staff, and engaging with our community are the catalysts for greater impact.
Through Team CAOS, we target energy, water, transportation, waste and materials, and health and social endeavors. In fact, Brendle Group installed an electric vehicle charging station for two vehicles this year, has achieved Net Zero Waste, is working toward Net Zero Energy, and is leading others with the initiative for Net Zero Water. These are not just empty mantras but targets that we aim to achieve and against which we measure and share our progress annually.
Not only are our buildings an example of our purpose, but through Team CAOS we are asking how we can support our staff members to do their best work through ergonomic analyses and workplace upgrades. These include standing work stations, larger monitors, raised foot rests, and other comfort elements that allow us to do our best work. This time of year we really start appreciating the work slippers each staff member is provided after a year at the company. The slippers signify our company roots as a basement start up and our desire to be grounded as a team.
Team CAOS is not all about buildings and internal work processes but also endeavors to build strong staff rapport and engage our communities beyond our walls. This year, we’ve taken breaks from project work to collect trash in our neighborhood, barbeque peaches, work on a Habitat for Humanity build, participate in an office-wide blood drive, financially support local non-profit organizations, provide gifts for local children during the holidays, and celebrate many personal and professional achievements.
Now is a great time to slow down, breathe deep, and acknowledge how many things we do to share our knowledge, abundance, and innovation. We have a large gong in our Fort Collins office and a smaller, but no less meaningful, gong in our Denver office. We sound both every time we get really good news. As I reflect, there have been so many gongs this year and unnoticed reasons to gong every single day!
About the Author — As a project manager and energy assessor for Brendle Group, Susan provides demand side management (DSM) program development and field services support for local governments and utilities. Susan is committed to program implementation and has a comprehensive set of skills to engage and support customers and showcase their successes. Susan also is involved in climate and sustainability planning and related strategy development grounded in 21 years of experience in the engineering and environmental arena. During this time, she has considered energy, water, and the environment from a variety of perspectives − private, public, commercial, and non-profit − giving her a unique perspective that is beneficial to each individual client.