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NRDC Releases its First Global Reporting Initiative Report (GRI)

Anthony Guerrero

Posted July 25, 2014

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Two years ago, NRDC looked inward to ensure that the sustainability of our internal operations continued along the cutting edge of sustainability management. Our Sustainable Operations Plan is now in its third year, and we’ve accomplished another substantial milestone: we have released our first Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) report.  We always envisioned publishing a sustainability report as one of the cornerstones of the Sustainable Operations Plan – it’s the key benchmark to demonstrate how NRDC is continually improving its internal operations.  We knew it would be a large undertaking to examine what we were doing, how we were doing it, and how we could improve upon those practices in order to continue being leaders in sustainability management.  And now, it is published!  

Publishing an accurate report required new measurement and reporting infrastructure across the organization to set up our operations for future reporting and - equally important - management tools to help push our consumption downward.  

Through this report and all that it embodies we are holding ourselves accountable, creating a better work environment, being a leader in transparency, and demonstrating business practices that others can follow.

In case you didn’t know what the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is, (not everyone knows about sustainability reporting, but spread the word), the GRI is a standardized comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that allows organizations to report on their economic, environmental and social impacts. We selected the GRI report framework over other frameworks after an independent and in-depth investigation from a Columbia University Sustainability Management Capstone team revealed their findings, indicating that it was our best option as it is a widely recognized and thorough reporting tool.  

NRDC chose to complete a comprehensive “GRI Level A” report because it is important to us to excel both in our advocacy work and with how we operate internally, transparent to our stakeholders. NRDC is the first U.S. environmental non-profit to publish a GRI report at Level A. 

To quote our president, Frances Beinecke, from the introduction to the report,

“Even as NRDC advocates for broad policy changes, we remain committed to the power of individual action. We believe we can tackle the environmental challenges of our time—from climate change to toxins in everyday products—not only by passing laws but also by embracing environmental solutions in our own homes, businesses, and communities. We put the policy into practice right here at NRDC. Through analyzing the impact of our actions, we demonstrate how individual efforts add up, and by doing it first ourselves, we hold to a promise, a shared commitment, to ethical stewardship of the planet and its resources.”

One eye-opening finding from completing the report was that around half of our electricity coming from the grid was derived from fossil fuels.  While we do have solar panels on the roof of the two buildings we own, this was a sobering finding.  However, digging this deep allowed us to create a reduction plan attacking our energy consumption from multiple angles; first by reducing electricity use even more aggressively through smart plugs, reduced plug load, and air sealing, then by switching to renewable energy.  We now heat our New York office with used cooking oil in the form of B100 biofuel and plan to make the switch to local renewable energy providers in all our offices over the coming year.  Thanks to these efforts, we are well on our way to bringing that fossil fuel percentage down to zero.

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Furthermore, we are currently working to set ambitious 5 year goals with yearly checkpoints to see our initiatives to fruition. We hope the transparency we display will encourage others to do the same and inspire everyone, including ourselves, to do better!

Thanks to the foresight of the senior leadership at NRDC and the efforts of our Facilities and Administration Team in collaboration with our sustainability consultants, Closed Loop Advisors, we have produced a report we are proud of.

Written in collaboration with Marisa Kaminski, NRDC Administration & Facilities team

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