Today marks the 52nd celebration of Earth Day, commemorating the anniversary of the environmental movement that emerged in 1970. It’s a day that holds special significance for American Builders Quarterly, because we regularly explore how building methods can become more sustainable and invite executives to exchange ideas on how to neutralize their companies’ carbon outputs.
This year, we teamed up with the Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s largest environmental organization dedicated to addressing the climate crisis and preserving the land and water on which all life depends. TNC recently relocated its Chicago office to the historic Wrigley Building in a sunlit space teeming with amenities made from natural materials. We took an exclusive tour of the 9,325-square-foot space while learning tips for going green.
The Great Indoors
- The lobby’s lighting is a physical representation of the bird migration taking place in spring and fall.
- The reception desk is made from reclaimed ash trees lost to the emerald ash borer, an invasive species that wreaked havoc in North America forests and in neighborhoods.
- The display wall features glass vials that hold various prairie plants and flowers that are native to Illinois. (TNC is collecting seeds from its other sites to diversify the display!)
- The carpet in the open office area is made from recycled fish netting.
- The kitchen uses only Energy Star appliances and has a reclaimed barn wood dining table. In fact, most furniture is recycled, upcycled, or refurbished.
Relocating to the Wrigley Building gave TNC the opportunity to experiment with a new space configuration and tap into its greatest strengths: teamwork and collaboration. Commercial real estate firm JLL and design firm Whitney helped bring the new office to life.
Tips for Going Green
- Leave that all or nothing mindset behind: Too often, people get tripped up by feeling like getting a little greener requires lots of drastic changes, but the truth is that it’s easier to achieve than one might think. Pick just one specific initiative that excites you and stick to it.
- Reduce your food waste: Our food and eating habits offer some of the best opportunities for reducing our environmental impact. Roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption gets wasted. You can help combat this by tossing leftover veggies into stir-fry, salads, sauces, or freezing them for later.
- Choose vacations closer to home: You can get away without going far by opting for a “staycation” in your neighborhood or exploring a nearby nature reserve to hike.
- Shut down hidden power hogs: Many “smart” electrical outlets make shutting down passive energy a breeze! Choose a greener power outlet based on your price point, how many you’ll need, and opting for simplicity over sophistication.
- Eat more plant-based foods: Start by opting for one or two plant-based meals each week to replace ones with meat, as these tend to have a much lower carbon and water footprint. Good sources of plant-based protein include beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, and meat alternatives like tofu and seitan.
- Seal up energy stealers: Save energy in your home by insulating and caulking it! Did you know that basic home insulating has the same impact on reducing your carbon footprint as replacing old single pane windows with new energy efficient windows?
- When in doubt, leave it out: Learn what can and can’t be recycled in your area, then avoid trying to recycle what should be left out. Typically these include #5 and #6 plastic, plastic wrappers and bags, oily and dirty containers, pizza boxes, and compostable “plastic.”
Want to learn more about decarbonizing practices and apply them to your business? Hear from the experts.