January 30, 2017 -- The City of Houston today announced the winners of the 2016 Houston Green Office Challenge: Tenant Category: 1st Place - Walter P Moore, 2nd Place - METRO, 3rd Place - Asakura Robinson Company; Non-Profit Category: Houston Zoo; and Property Management Category: NASA/Johnson Space Center.
“The Green Office Challenge is a great example of how the public and private sectors are working together to make Houston the greener, more sustainable community we see today,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Congratulations to the 2016 winners for their outstanding performance and to all participants for helping Houston set an example for other cities to follow.”
The 2016 Houston Green Office Challenge, sponsored by Shell and Central Houston, engaged corporations, local businesses, and non-profit organizations through a variety of workshops and networking opportunities to help increase their environmental and economic performance in the workplace. Workshop topics ranged from how to launch a food composting pilot to greening the supply chain, implementing sustainable procurement practices, and vanpooling options for employers.
Participants had 10 weeks to report their office’s sustainable activities that focused on energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, and cleaner transportation as well as property management and employee engagement. Businesses and non-profit organizations were encouraged to share best practices and experiences, highlighting the program’s focus on peer learning and peer exchange.
About the winners:
For the second year in a row, the top tenant prize went to Walter P Moore, demonstrating their commitment to greening their office operations.
“After pulling off a last-minute win in last year’s Green Office Challenge, we aimed to be more organized and plan ahead this year,” said Joe Fong, Senior Associate at Walter P Moore. “We were able to incorporate some of our initiatives from last year and were able to use our previous win to raise awareness about our Green Team, motivate more employees to get involved, and recruit more help in completing the challenges. The Challenge also motivated us to take a closer look at a lot of our current practices, such as water use, cleaning practices, and waste disposal, and brainstorm ways to make them more sustainable, which we otherwise may not have noticed. Because of our success last year, we got a lot of support from our upper management and administration this year, which has ultimately helped emphasize the importance of office sustainability in our company culture to all our employees.”
New to the challenge and winning the 2nd place tenant award was the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) the region's largest public transit provider. To address increased demand for electricity due to new facilities and new trains coming online, METRO offset 30 percent -- more than 19 million kWh/per year of its electricity consumption—with Green-e Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for a period of five years to 2020.
"As first-time competitors in the challenge, participation showed that METRO is moving to reduce its energy footprint and identifying areas for improvement which will become great opportunities for us to work on in coming years," said METRO President & CEO Tom Lambert. "The Houston Green Office Challenge provided us with a great opportunity to review our 1900 Main St. headquarters and compare it to other office buildings in the area. METRO is proud to have been part of this fall’s HGOC and looks forward to future challenges."
The Houston Zoo, also a first-time participant, claimed the non-profit organization winner in the program.
“Caring for over 6000 animals of all shapes and sizes, along with serving over 2.5 million human guests every year, the Houston Zoo by its very nature uses a lot of resources,” said Lee Ehmke, Houston Zoo’s Chief Executive Officer. “To advance our mission—connecting communities with animals, inspiring action to save wildlife -- we feel strongly that the Houston Zoo must practice and demonstrate sustainability in our daily operations.”
The top property manager winner was NASA/Johnson Space Center, which manages over 4.2 million square feet on their campus.
"The NASA/Johnson Space Center leads sustainability with teams such as the Green Team and various collaborations across the center,” said Stacy Shutts, NASA/Johnson Space Center’s Program Specialist for Sustainability. “NASA's sustainability policy is to execute NASA’s mission without compromising our planet’s resources so that future generations can meet their needs. The goal is to build a culture where sustainability becomes commonplace and accessible. The number of ‘free-range’ bikes grows each year, employees have vanpooled for years, and the fleet of electric vehicles continues to expand. We received points for these initiatives in the Houston Green Office Challenge and ideas for others, such as an employee transportation survey. Sustainable building policies will continue to be applied; an efficient office lighting retrofit is ongoing across the center and all new NASA construction is required to meet LEED Silver certification. The Houston Green Office Challenge offered ways to implement sustainable efforts to make the workplace a better environment for our employees. We are thrilled to be recognized and are proud to be a part of a more sustainable Houston."