Author Archive

GSA Makes Federal Case of E-Waste Recycling

posted by Andrew Cuneo

By Andy Cuneo, Account Supervisor, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Washington, D.C.

Since its inception in late 2008, the Hill+Knowlton Strategies Green Team has made a concerted effort to be responsible environmental citizens. From new silverware to new energy efficient light bulbs, we’ve placed a strong emphasis on recycling and energy conservation. This exercise culminated in an extremely successful e-waste campaign with our client, United Cerebral Palsy, where we collected nearly 1,000 lbs.

On Thursday, the General Services Administration made a very important declaration that all federal agencies are now banned from disposing used electronics in landfills or incinerators. Instead, a bulletin from the GSA offered agencies explicit instructions on where to send electronics for recycling. While some agencies have been doing this for years, the mandate is critical to ensure the rest follow suit. It’s a move that probably should have been made long ago, but I’m both pleased and proud to see action taking place.

Not all e-waste recycling is created equal. Recycling electronics in one place doesn’t always offer the environmental return you’re looking for. There are operations that offer e-waste recycling, only to dump and burn it later on down the line. But there ARE credible third party recycling organizations that take great care in both the materials, and their employees. Agencies, companies and consumers MUST do their due diligence in selecting the right company.

We all need to take a page out of the GSA’s book and look for ways to recycle our old phones, computers and TVs. In the weeks ahead, H+K plans to drive another e-waste recycling program with United Cerebral Palsy. We’ll be sharing information on how you can make a difference as well.

For now, congratulations to the GSA and the Federal Government. Great move. Let’s keep it rolling!

Not Just a “Pick-Up” Line

posted by Andrew Cuneo

I think many of us who listen to the evening news broadcasts expect to hear a lot of the same thing: Fighting here, budget cuts there, unemployment is “XX” high. But every so often, you come across a story that makes you feel good about where the human race is going. And this happened to me Wednesday evening. As my daughter and I sat on the couch watching NBC Nightly News, a story at the end of the telecast came on that both made us stop and listen.

A young group of individuals called “Pick up America” is driving across the country picking up roadside trash. Traveling in an old school bus running on recycled vegetable oil, the youth group started in March 2010 in Maryland and have since traveled 2/3rds of the way across our nation picking up close to 140,000 lbs of litter left by careless motorists. They get local volunteers involved, bring a sense of accomplishment to those who participate and leave lessons for future generations to live by. Why do it? Member Jeff Chen says: “We’re young people and need to take a hold of our future.”

It’s time we all shared the enthusiasm these “pick up artists” are exhibiting. Though too young to understand, my daughter watched. It’s a lesson I hope she (and for that matter we) learn – from activities in everyday life to what you do in the office.

What do you do to help the environment?

Talking Sustainability and Energy with One of the Best in the Business

posted by Andrew Cuneo

By Andy Cuneo, Senior Account Executive, Washington D.C.

In late March, I had the fortunate opportunity to join a few colleagues in meeting and talking energy and sustainability with one of the best minds on the topic, blogger and Fortune reporter Marc Gunther. As an avid reader of Marc’s, and a big fan of his work, knowledge and interest in sustainability, I spent the hour sharing thoughts and anecdotes about energy, sustainability, what companies are doing well as well as how Marc prepares for being an MC for panel discussions at top trade shows.

As a bonus, I joined fellow H&K DC Tech Team colleague Lauren Wilson for our regular video interview series on our sister blog, Tech & The District.  “Tech in Five” as it’s known brings some of the top reporters, thinkers and analysts in to our DC office to educate our readers on how they see technology, sustainability, issues on Capitol Hill and what it’s like to live in Washington D.C.

Last week, our team posted the latest in the “Tech in Five” series and sat down with Marc. What inspires Marc? Where will our next energy source come from?  And what does he think of the Nationals chances in 2011? You’ll be very interested and inspired (as we were) on what he had to say.

What Earth Day Means to Us

posted by Andrew Cuneo

Hill & Knowlton would like to extend a warm and happy Earth Day greeting to you all. This is a special day; one that pushes us to be better environmental citizens. It is also a reminder to take a moment to reflect and take part in one activity that will reduce your environmental footprint – whether it’s using fewer lights, running less water, or even walking to a destination instead of driving to one.

In the spirit of Earth Day, our Green Team (comprised of staff from across our U.S. offices) wanted to share a few thoughts on what Earth Day means to us.  We wish you a Happy Earth Day!

  •  “Earth Day is an important reminder that we need to do all we can to leave our world in good shape for our children, and theirs. An old Native American proverb sums it up best: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Happy Earth Day!” — Chad Tragakis, Senior Vice President, Washington D.C.
  • “When I think of Earth Day, I think of all the things I can do to help preserve our planet for my daughter’s generation, and every generation that follows. I think of an old Greek proverb that says ‘A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.’” Andy Cuneo, Senior Account Executive, Washington D.C.
  • “To be grateful for what you have, and to think of ways for you to constantly express that gratitude through the little things that matter. Reflecting and not being wasteful are good ways to show that you are aware of what you’ve been blessed with. It just goes to show that you are indeed thankful for it.” — Christopher Ward, Facility Supervisor, New York
  • “It’s an annual reminder that the world is bigger than all of us. A prompt to use today to start a new habit, and perhaps give up on an old. That we can make a difference, one small act at a time.” — Lena Davie, Vice President, Tampa
  • “Earth Day is the day that I will think more about what I can do for Mother Nature and make my Green resolutions for the year. It is also a year to review my Green efforts made last year. Earth Day should not only be the day for us to treat the planet better, but should be the day for us to show more energy and enthusiasm to plan for a Green future.” Theorina Li, Syracuse Fellow, Washington D.C.
  • “To me, Earth Day is a reminder to stop and appreciate our natural environment and to do my part to go green at home.” Austin Lamb, Senior Account Executive, Chicago
  • “A day to honor the energy and goodness of the Earth and to unite to help keep it beautiful, clean and healthy.” Melissa Penn, Senior Account Executive, Los Angeles
  • “Earth Day serves as a reminder and staple of what we should be cognizant everyday – ensuring that we are all doing our part to protect the environment, which is intrinsically linked to the safety and security of our communities. And it also gives us – as public relations professionals – an opportunity to stress the importance of corporate social responsibility to our clients – which now more than ever needs to be a cornerstone of reputation management. We all need to do our part to make our neighborhoods more green – and I’m thankful that Earth Day reinforces this point.” — Brett Broesder, Senior Account Executive, New York
  • “At a time when “being green” has become commercialized, it is heartening to remind ourselves though our green actions and in-office discussions how achievable it is to be green the other 364 days of the year.”  - Mallory Thompson, Account Executive and Sarah Shahrabani, Senior Account Executive, Seattle

With Earth Day Closing in, Here are some Tweets to Follow

posted by Andrew Cuneo

By Jennifer Hamilton, Account Executive, Hill & Knowlton in Tampa

Earth Day is right around the corner – Friday, April 22! Since this day is all about educating people about current environmental issues and getting them to actively do something “green”, the more you know, the more likely you will take part in addressing those issues.

Mashable has indicated that Twitter’s analysis of the 25 billion tweets sent in 2010 showed the Gulf Oil Spill as the top overall trend, demonstrating how environmental topics are becoming more mainstream.

So, to kick off conversation a little early for Earth Day, here’s a list of 10 green Twitter users, in no particular order, to follow for some great tips and info on sustainability.

  1. @EPAgov – The U.S. EPA has a total of 18 different Twitter handles, tailored to different green areas of interest, from their blog and green building to different regions of the U.S. Check out the entire list on their Twitter profile page.
  2. @nytimesgreen – The New York Times Green section links to current news discussed on their Green blog.
  3. @ESA_org – The Ecological Society of America tweets updates on the latest research and headlines regarding the health and safety of planet Earth.
  4. @CNNGreen – Another news-related Twitter user, CNNGreen tweets about the latest news and research related to the climate change.
  5. @the_daily_green – Described as the consumer’s guide to the green revolution, TheDailyGreen has a remarkable audience of 20,000-plus followers.
  6. @sustainablog – Jeff McIntire-Strasburg microblogs about how to live a sustainable lifestyle.
  7. @bestgreenblogs – They’re the source for tweets, retweets and follows on all things green, eco, organic and sustainable.
  8. @Earth911 – Check out Earth 911’s tweets for tips on recycling.
  9. @HuffPostGreen – This Internet newspaper posts about the latest environmental news.
  10. @seth_leitman – This Green Living Guy and Author and Series Editor of McGraw-Hill’s The Green Guru Guides delivers hard news along with some green humor.

Know of other great green users to follow? Comment below and share!

Smartphones making us more efficient

posted by Andrew Cuneo

Over the weekend, I read a piece on how smartphone mobile applications are helping to guide us towards sustainability. As a member of Hill & Knowlton’s tech practice, and a leader on our internal green team, I’m hopeful that these applications will shape our sustainability across the country.  I wrote a piece for our sister blog, Tech & The District that identifies these applications. One of the biggest roadblocks to being more sustainable is convenience.  “It’s too hard to be sustainable.”  These applications give me hope those complaints will die down soon.

Capitol Energy Rating for Washington D.C.

posted by Andrew Cuneo

I’m a Bostonian by heart, but having lived in Washington D.C. for the last 7 ½ years, I’ve grown to really take pride in this city. So, when the EPA announced the top 10 cities with Energy Star certified buildings, and knowing DC was in the top 10, my chest puffed out a bit. And, looking deeper into the rankings, I found that the very building our H&K DC offices are located in, The Westory, was one of an astounding 114 certified buildings in D.C.

Throughout the United States, there are 6,200 commercial buildings that earned Energy Star certification in 2010. According to the EPA, that’s an increase of 60 percent over 2009 totals. For those of you wondering why that’s an important statistic, it comes down to impact and money. The EPA reports that 20 percent of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions come from commercial buildings and energy used in those buildings costs a staggering $100 billion each year.

Having an Energy Star rating associated with your building is a major honor. Certified buildings use 35 percent less energy and emit 35 percent less carbon dioxide than average buildings. I know firsthand how hard our building  managers in Washington have worked to achieve this certification (as well as LEED Silver Certification). Our offices have installed new energy efficient lighting and new flush valves on all the toilets to reduce water consumption, among many other adjustments.

This is a great day for Washington, D.C. and perhaps, a bit selfishly, a great day for H&K here in D.C. as well. We take tremendous pride in our own Green Team and are proud to work with our building management to achieve reduction in our carbon and environmental footprint. 

For a complete list of the top Energy Star cities in the U.S., please visit this site.

Life-Saving Technology Innovation

posted by Andrew Cuneo

Technology innovation has changed the way we conduct our daily lives. And much of that technology, whether it’s an e-reader,  mobile devices or GPS, is intended to make every day life easier. But my Washington D.C. colleague, Ben Breit, wrote a piece recently for our sister blog, “Tech & The District” that shows how technology innovation can also be life saving. 

The piece shows how a not-for-profit technology company has developed a software that is helping Kenyans deviate from danger. Definitely worth the read.

A Cool Idea to Heat Buildings in Sweden

posted by Andrew Cuneo

All around the world, we’re seeing innovation that can turn back the clock on our climate change dilemma. Companies are making strides never before seen that illustrate ways to conserve energy and water, while cleaning our air.

But this story out of Stockholm, Sweden makes the grade as the most innovative, and perhaps most unusual, means to generate heat and electricity – the human body.

That’s right, as reported by the BBC last Sunday, Stockholm’s Central subway station is harvesting the body heat of the 250,000 passengers that ride each day.  So how is this being done?  Well, “Heat exchangers” in the station’s ventilation system are converting all excess body heat into hot water which is then pumped into a nearby building to keep it warm. And it’s saving that building a tremendous amount of energy.  In fact, the 250,000 daily passengers in Stockholm are actually saving that building 25 percent of its normal energy bill.

The human body is providing a new source of heat for Stockholm buildings – and that’s pretty cool.

Let’s Make This Holiday Season Better for All – Together

posted by Andrew Cuneo

At ResponsAbility, our goal is to share and celebrate best practices and new ideas in corporate responsibility.

We share highlighted news items, offer our expertise and provide insight into ways corporations can improve their social standing. It’s also important for our readers to know we also practice what we preach.  Every year, Hill & Knowlton’s DC office hosts a toy drive for needy families around the holiday season. We do it not because it improves our reputation, but because it feels good.

I’m one of the fortunate individuals who looked forward to this holiday season every year. Food would always be on the table, a fire in the fireplace, and a Christmas tree with presents underneath every year.  As a new parent, I can truly appreciate what my parents did to make my holiday a bit brighter.  My daughter, just four months old, will hopefully look back years from now and remember with fondness the family holidays.

But as a new parent, it also breaks my heart to know some kids might wake up and not have a gift to open, a large dinner on the table or even a warm fire to sit next to. That’s exactly why I’m so proud of our agency for making a real difference.  We’re proud to be working with Martha’s Table to collect food and toys for families in need.

There are so many ways you can help kids smile this holiday season. Just by donating canned goods, toys or even clothing, you can bring a smile to a child’s face and relief to a parent’s heart. This holiday season, let’s make a difference together.  Forget bottom lines, smiles are worth millions.