Green Office Chair: David Selden
Native American Rights Fund’s Statement on Environmental Sustainability
It is clear that our natural world is undergoing severe, catastrophic climate change that adversely impacts the lives of people and ecosystems worldwide. Native Americans and Alaska Natives are especially vulnerable and are experiencing disproportionate negative impacts on their cultures, health, and food systems. In response, NARF is committed to environmental sustainability through our mission, work, and organizational values. Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and other Indigenous peoples have a long tradition of living sustainably with the natural world by understanding the importance of preserving natural resources and respecting the interdependence of all living things. NARF embraces this tradition through its work and by instituting sustainable office practices that reduce our negative impact on our climate and environment. NARF is engaged in environmental work and has established a Green Office Committee whose responsibility is to lead and coordinate staff participation in establishing and implementing policies and procedures to minimize waste, reduce energy consumption and pollution, and create a healthful work environment.
Environmental Sustainability Accomplishments
Each year, the NARF Green Office Committee looks for new ways to lower impacts on the environment and promote a healthful work environment. In 2017, the committee focused on the health of the employees and tested the buildings at the Boulder office for radon gas. Radon gas is an often overlooked hazard in buildings in Colorado. Close to 50% of all Colorado homes are above the safe EPA limit for this odorless, invisible gas which can cause lung cancer. Test results showed that both NARF buildings were above the safe limit, so we quickly arranged for mitigation and a re-test. After the ventilation systems were designed and installed, the re-test showed that levels of radon gas were lowered to a safe level.
Awards and Recognitions
NARF was awarded EPA’s ENERGY STAR certificate for the main NARF building at 1506 Broadway with a score of 93 out of 100. Buildings that earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR use 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings across the nation.
The Boulder office is a PACE Certified Partner for reducing waste with a 79% landfill diversion rate. (PACE stands for Partners for a Clean Environment and serves Boulder County, Colorado.)
What we measure
The Native American Rights Fund is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, (thirty-one employees) and has regional offices in Anchorage, Alaska, (five employees) and Washington, D.C. (three employees). While sustainability is important in all offices, to date, most projects have been associated with the main office in Boulder where the property is owned. Offices in Anchorage and D.C. are leased. We currently monitor and report on our impacts in four major areas:
- Energy Consumption (electricity and natural gas for main office)
- Paper Consumption (for main office)
- Air Travel (all three offices)
- Waste reduction
For the past six years, NARF has partnered with Trees, Water & People, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, to offset its global warming emissions for the major sources of consumption listed above. This partnership includes a donation to the Native American solar furnace project to offset 647.5 tons of carbon dioxide, which matches NARF’s 2016 emissions. In addition to environmental benefits, the solar heater project helps Native American families in need by providing clean, free heat from the sun, as well as jobs. To learn more about this project, read the Indian Country Today article “Henry Red Cloud Leads the Renewable-Energy Charge at Pine Ridge.”
See our data and impacts since 2010 below (offsets have not yet been purchased for 2017).
Notes about the air travel data:
Starting in 2015, air travel includes all three offices. After 2014, air travel also included business travel not booked through the firm’s travel agent.
Note that in 2015 NARF switched from using 30% recycled content paper to 100% recycled content paper. The higher recycled content is valued at 5.3 tons of CO2 consumed per ton of paper versus the 9 tons of CO2 consumed per ton of non-recycled paper.
NARF’s Green Purchasing Policy
Green purchasing is the practice of procuring goods and services that cause less harm to the environment and the living beings that depend upon it for survival. Green products are those manufactured with more environmentally-friendly materials or which are produced with minimal impact on the environment.
NARF’s Green Purchasing Policy demonstrates NARF’s commitment to environmental sustainability in accordance with our Sustainability Statement. The goal of this policy is to reduce the adverse environmental impact of our purchasing decisions by buying goods and services from manufacturers and vendors who share our commitment to the environment and the health of our employees. This policy will be used consistently with the NARF accounting department’s policies and purchasing procedures.
In keeping with a commitment to green purchasing, NARF purchases office paper that is 100% recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)® certified. The FSC certification includes third-party certification of the recycled content and “requires that the legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories, and resources shall be recognized and respected.” Through this purchasing choice and by shrinking per capita paper consumption, NARF is producing less air pollution and greenhouse gases, as well as reducing the consumption of wood, energy, and water.
NARF strives and will continue to strive to balance environmental and fiscal responsibilities in making green purchasing decisions. General purchasing decisions will be made with the advice of the Green Office Committee and high-cost items will be approved by the NARF Corporate Officers. NARF will strive to purchase materials that:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions or are made with renewable energy (i.e. Energy Star® computers and copier/printers).
- Are manufactured in an environmentally friendly way.
- Decrease the use of toxins detrimental to human health and to the environment.
- Contain the highest possible percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
- Are reusable, recyclable, compostable, or contain reusable parts (rechargeable batteries, reusable printer cartridges, etc.).
- Reduce air, water, and/or land pollution.
- Are multifunctional (i.e. copier/printer/scanner, etc.) and serve to decrease the total number of products purchased.
- Are made from raw materials obtained in an environmentally sound, sustainable manner.
Preference is given to suppliers that offer environmentally-friendly products, work to exceed their environmental performance expectations, and document their supply-chain impacts.
Environmentally-friendly products and services of similar quality and price to conventional counterparts are preferred. When the greenest option is not available, too costly, or impractical, NARF will consider how the products are produced, as well as the environmentally and socially responsible management practices of those suppliers and producers.
The NARF purchasing policy is one element in our continuing, long-range commitment to the environment. By adopting this policy, we hope to likewise engage the producers and suppliers of NARF’s office products and services to adopt business practices that reduce their impact on the environment.