Kermit the Frog says it’s not easy being green, but EBSCO Information Services would disagree. The largest division of EBSCO Industries, EBSCO has a variety of green initiatives at its Ipswich, Mass., headquarters, which are on display in EBSCO’s newsroom and in its YouTube video “Why Go Green?” All EBSCO employees are encouraged to be environmentally conscious.
Going green grew out of the desire to do the right thing and to “behave in a way that’s consistent with what our employees want,” EBSCO president Tim Collins explains in the video. About 8 years ago, the company formed a Green Team of about 40 employees who make recommendations for ways EBSCO could help the environment. The Green Team’s implementations include vending machines that power down until someone approaches them and recycled copy paper. The team also decided to provide employees with reusable water bottles and travel mugs to reduce waste. The newest initiative is the addition of recycling bins for yogurt cups, salad containers, and other food-related plastics to the kitchenettes on EBSCO’s campus.
A Green Cafe
Not only do employees have green options in their kitchenettes, but they also have an entire restaurant devoted to being environment-friendly. The Riverside Cafe, which serves 900-plus employees three meals a day, uses a solar-based hot water system and composts preconsumer waste. When employees come to the cafe for coffee, they use their company-issued mugs since the Riverside Cafe does not provide disposable coffee cups. Its utensils are made from natural starch, and its napkins are 100% recycled paper. “We decided to pursue certification with the Green Restaurant Association, which is a national, nonprofit organization, and they provide guidance,” restaurant manager Cheryl Montale says in the video. “[O]ur goal is to become even greener as we go along with their help.”
Employees who use public transportation such as the local commuter rail to travel to and from work have their rail costs reimbursed. Fewer cars being driven to work reduces EBSCO’s need for parking.
Those who do drive to work can still be green: EBSCO provides four free charging stations for the dozen or so employees who own electric cars. “[A]s we see more electric vehicles on the roads, it makes even more sense to offer the charging stations to our employees who can now easily consider an electric vehicle because they have easy access to free and fast charges,” says Collins. According to the video, EBSCO was the first company in Massachusetts to install electric car charging stations.
EBSCO doesn’t just help its employees arrive at work in a green manner—its company vehicles are also looking out for the environment. EBSCO chose to purchase Toyota Camry Hybrids when they debuted in 2007 as its corporate cars needed to be replaced. Now the entire fleet consists of Toyota Camry Hybrids or Ford Fusion Hybrids.
Lights On/Lights Off
EBSCO’s buildings have solar arrays of more than 400 panels that are designed to offset 20%–25% of the building’s energy needs. Energy management systems that monitor and adjust the heaters, air conditioners, and lights could potentially save more than 20% in costs and energy consumption each year. All of the buildings’ lights now contain high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs, and most rooms have timers or motion/sound sensors that shut off lights when not in use. Also, EBSCO’s data centers have energy-efficient servers that extend their service.
Raising Public Awareness
The GreenFILE library research database helps patrons understand the human impact on the environment. It covers topics such as global climate change, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and recycling. Libraries can add GreenFILE to their profiles so patrons can search it alongside other databases. GreenFILE is also publicly accessible at greeninfoonline.com.
Spreading the Message
This spring, EBSCO will install solar panels at its Topsfield, Mass., location. Collins is “particularly excited about this project because the solar panels will be visible from Route One, a main thoroughfare in the area. We believe such a large array will promote solar power and help it to become more mainstream.”
EBSCO Industries is also in on the green action—employee-led teams research and implement new programs, says Collins. In the video, he notes that large companies “can afford to be a little less profitable and do the right thing. … I think if people see a big company doing it and they realize, this company’s probably a pretty capable company, they’ve been successful, they probably make good decisions, … maybe I should look into that.”
When the Green Team researched the initiatives that would come to be everyday practices at the company, “we saw there’s a lot of great arguments for being green, but there really aren’t any arguments to not be green,” says Collins. “So it’s just kind of common sense.”