Every Day is Earth Day at OWC
April 22, 2010, marks the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day environmental awareness observation in 1970. But at OWC, we like to think of every day as Earth Day in a very real way.
As OWC staff members arrive at work each day, we begin our “Green” day by driving into the OWC parking lot, over permeable pavers, and a multi-layer substrate that help keep surface pollutants out of the groundwater.
Anyone carpooling or driving an energy efficient car gets preferred parking, close to the building. While making our way to the building entrance, we walk past the high-insulation glass windows and exterior sunshade technology that reduce cooling costs, as well as bio-swale landscaping and native plants and prairie grasses that conserve water. We can’t see the eco-friendly building materials containing a high level of recycled content, but we know they’re in there. And OWC’s underground geo-thermal heat pump system is also not visible to the naked eye, but it’s hard at work 365 days a year greatly reducing both heating and cooling costs for the building.
On the way to our workstations, we walk past a staff shower facility for anyone wishing to ride a bike to work, and “smart room” sensors that track movement and automatically shut off lights in unused areas. All interior materials, from the carpeting on the floor to the paint on the wall, and even the cleaning products used every day were selected for low toxicity and planet-friendly components. There are recycling bins set out throughout the building for paper, glass and plastic, as well as smaller paper recycling bins in every cubicle. In the two years we have been in the new building, OWC has been steadily working toward a zero waste goal. Through company-wide re-use and recycling efforts, including paper, glass, metal and plastic, our records show that OWC has reduced what it could have otherwise added to the solid waste stream by approximately 96%.
And visible through the floor to ceiling glass windows is OWC’s own on-site Vestas V39-500kW, 3-blade wind turbine that cleanly generates more than 100% of the amount of power required by OWC’s operations. The turbine earned OWC recognition as a Green Power Partner in 2009 from the US Environmental Protection Agency.