Corporate Social Responsibility is built on a triple bottom line: people, prosperity, and planet. As a socially responsible company, Delta Dental of Colorado has excelled at supporting people from our team members, to providers, to communities. As a nonprofit, we support the health and prosperity of the local economy through our grant making in the foundation, corporate giving, and volunteerism. Planet was always a tough one. Do I encourage better recycling, ask team members to turn off the lights? The insurance industry doesn’t have a physical supply chain. We don’t make a product that uses materials, and we don’t transport goods consuming natural resources such as gas and oil. I wondered whether our small carbon footprint was enough to merit establishing a full-fledged sustainability program. That changed when Delta Dental of Colorado decided to move to its new headquarters after 25 years in the same office space.
Delta Dental of Colorado Getting Greener
Moving to a new office building taught me a lot about the role businesses can play in the fight against climate change, no matter the industry. During the build out of the new office, we used an integrative design process across architect, designer, sustainability consultant, and construction team to create a sustainable office environment for our team members and the planet. We selected a building that is LEED Silver, implemented green design and construction techniques, and developed a comprehensive sustainability plan.
The design for the new Delta Dental of Colorado headquarters is built on three themes: reduce, reuse, and recycle. We incorporated energy and water reduction, waste diversion, improved mobility through walking and public transportation, the use of local and small businesses for supply and production needs, and the elements of a robust green-education program. Design and construction elements that will impact team members’ health and the planet include:
We installed a daylight-harvesting system which uses daylight to offset the amount of artificial light needed to light up a space, thus reducing energy consumption. According to a Cornell University study, providing just the right amount of light to employees can help reduce eyestrain by 51%, drowsiness by 56%, and headaches by 63%.
We were able to reuse 30% of the conference tables, chairs, and other common area furniture from the old office for the new space, saving them from going into the landfill.
It’s estimated that 40% of the waste produced by the United States comes from the construction industry. Our general contractor recycled more than 54,100 pounds of carpet, metals, and other materials during the demolition process. That’s equivalent to the weight of four African elephants!
Healthier Work Environment, Healthier Planet
The office move and the opportunity to build a sustainability program from the ground up has been one of the highlights of my work at Delta Dental of Colorado. All the mindful green design, construction, and attention to detail does not end when the last contractor leaves the job site. Our journey in sustainability and wellness truly began as team members walked into our new office. Over the next three years, we’ll be adding the more programming, partnerships, and operational efficiencies to reach our goals of becoming a carbon neutral company and achieving LEED and fitwel certifications. I’m eager to watch this program take shape and look forward to sharing our progress. At Delta Dental of Colorado, we’re striving to create a work environment that’s healthy for our team members and the planet.