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EPA Data Show Firm's Sustainability Efforts Paying Off

Neal Gerber Eisenberg’s waste reduction efforts in 2011 saved the equivalent of the annual emissions from 71 cars – or two acres of forest – according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sustainability

Recognizing that all human activity—including operating a law office—impacts the environment and natural world around us, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP is committed to promoting environmentally sustainable business operations. We strive to meet our current resource needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The firm embraces sustainability through firmwide policies and initiatives that reduce our overall environmental footprint. Firm management promotes, encourages and adopts sustainable office practices that are consistent with our overall commitment to provide excellent legal services to our clients. Specifically, sustainability is considered in the purchase of supplies and equipment, the use of recycling and disposal services and the development of electronic policies that minimize paper use.

We believe that all of our employees hold an important role in reducing the firm’s environmental footprint. Therefore, it is the firm’s policy that all employees adopt reasonable practices that minimize and reduce the environmental impact of their daily office activities wherever possible. These practices can include, among other things, the reduction of paper and printer usage, the recycling of office waste and the conservation of energy.

The firm understands that achieving sustainability is a mission that is never truly completed, which is why we formed a Green Committee in 2008. Composed of partners, associates, paralegals and staff, the Green Committee regularly evaluates and monitors current practices, sets priorities in carrying out sustainability policies and educates and motivates all employees on sustainable and cost-effective practices for the most efficient use of natural resources.

Sustainability initiatives undertaken by the firm and its Green Committee include:

  • conducting an onsite audit of our firm’s recycling practices (via an independent outside party) to better understand what we have accomplished and where we can better marshal our resources to further improve our sustainability efforts;
  • promoting “print only when necessary” and training our administrative personnel on the use and benefits of double-sided printing and copying;
  • advocating a “lights & energy” program (e.g., turn off the lights when leaving an empty room, shutting down the computer at day’s end);
  • promoting the use of water bottles/coffee mugs;
  • increasing our use of shredding bins to recycle old records and files (in 2010 alone the firm shredded and recycled more than 40 tons of paper);
  • encouraging bicycling to and from work by arranging for secure inside bicycle storage space at our office building;
  • promoting the use of public transportation through financial incentives;
  • using recycling bins by each workspace/desk to recycle paper items;
  • using recycling bins in the firm’s kitchen/coffee areas and in every conference room at the firm for the recycling of glass, plastic and metal;
  • incorporating LEED guidelines in new office space construction;
  • replacing hard-copy inter-office mailings with electronic online communications where possible;
  • promoting the paperless exchange between the firm and clients via enhanced use of secure “e-rooms;”
  • switching to copy paper made with post-consumer recycled content; and
  • replacing plastic and Styrofoam kitchen supplies (e.g., plates, hot and cold cups, napkins) with products made from recycled and compostable recyclable materials.

In addition to the actions listed above, the firm has teamed up with external organizations to further our sustainability mission and achieve measurable results on our efforts. A summary of those relationships follows.

ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge

Our firm is recognized by the ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge as a Law Office Climate Challenge partner for adopting best practices of office paper management. The Climate Challenge is designed to encourage law offices to take specific steps to conserve energy and resources, as well as reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

EPA WasteWise Program

For the fourth consecutive year, the firm is participating in the Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise Program, a program that encourages organizations to reduce waste, including paper waste. Since registering with WasteWise and submitting a plan for office paper management, our firm has been recognized as a WasteWise partner for the past three years. As part of the EPA’s approval, we received the agency’s individualized climate profile for the firm, which translates our annual waste prevention and recycling data into greenhouse gas emission reductions and equivalency statements. In 2011, our firm’s paper recycling efforts conserved the equivalent of:

  • annual emissions from 71 cars;
  • two acres of forest;
  • annual emissions from 35 households;
  • more than 44,000 gallons of gas;
  • more than 16,000 propane cylinders used for home barbeques; or
  • 134 tons of waste from being landfilled

Law Firm Sustainability Network

In 2013, the firm joined forces with the Law Firm Sustainability Network (LFSN) to promote environmental sustainability across the legal industry. The LFSN is a nonprofit organization of law firms and committed to promoting the benefits of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility throughout the legal industry. By partnering with LFSN, the firm continues to expand and enhance its sustainability programs and is participating in developing the American Legal Industry Sustainability Standards.