At Bowman and Brooke a passion for sustainability runs deep within our stripes. All of our attorneys and professional staff embrace a shared commitment to a healthy environment. Our individual offices are empowered to find and implement as many local green initiatives as possible for their unique geographic locations.
Global Focus, Local Initiatives
The core of our sustainability efforts and programs revolves around our physical office locations and information technology.
Nationally, we developed architectural standards that include environmental goals and efficient use of space in all offices. Our administrative office leaders are further challenged with identifying opportunities to reduce the local carbon footprint in collaboration with building management. When we make office improvements, we install energy-efficient LED lights.
Of course, recycling bins for glass, plastic and aluminum are standard in each office, along with firmwide printer cartridge recycling—but at Bowman and Brooke, we never settle for the status quo. Each of our offices has implemented many paper-saving techniques, including recycled paper for copiers.
We replaced disposable glasses, cups, dishes, and flatware with permanent dishes, drinkware and flatware. The disposable supplies, when needed, are made from compostable recycled products. We have also installed water coolers to promote refillable containers and glassware instead of disposable water containers. We replaced our coffee systems with 100% recyclable single-cup coffee makers in several of our offices. In Austin, our office has eliminated disposable dining ware entirely.
We also seek locations where public transportation and ride-sharing options (bus, light rail, train, daily bicycles) are available to employees, thus reducing our carbon footprint through less automobile traffic, such as our downtown Minneapolis location.
LEEDing Fearlessly Forward
Five of our offices meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, putting our firm ahead of the national average of just under a third of Class A workspaces achieving LEED certification. Three additional office buildings are Energy Star certified. Sustainability features include advanced zoned and afterhours heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), light-harvesting technology, motion-activated lighting, energy-efficient light bulbs and fixtures, and dimmable lighting controls. When certification is not an option, we operate within the spirit of these standards. Our Strategic Plan states any new office must meet these standards and participate in all recycling programs.
Embracing long-term sustainability early on, in 2008, Bowman and Brooke’s Minneapolis headquarters office was the first law firm workplace outside of California, and the second nationwide, to meet the strict environmental criteria set by the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green commercial interiors rating system (LEED-CI). The LEED-CI certified Minneapolis office features abundant use of glass for maximum natural light infiltration, carpet made from nylon fibers created from recycled plastic bottles, doorframes composed of 75 percent recycled aluminum, adhesives low in volatile organic compounds, and motion-detecting lights, ensuring lights are out when rooms are not in use. A central staircase spanning three floors promotes camaraderie and serves as a replacement for elevators. The Fifth Street Towers complex, which houses the Minneapolis office, is LEED GOLD Certified, ENERGY STAR Rated, and WIREDSCORE GOLD Certified, which helps enable efficient digital communications and file transfers.
Similarly, in 2011 our Columbia office was the first law office in South Carolina to receive LEED - Gold certification with its highly energy-efficient design, utilizing energy star appliances, low consumption water fixtures, and light occupancy sensors with energy-efficient lighting. The office also uses a number of finishes and materials that have high recycle content or come from readily renewable resources, such as bamboo.
In the Southwest, The Phoenix Plaza, was awarded the LEED-EB Silver designation for Operations and Maintenance in September 2009. Most recently, in 2019, our Austin, Texas office building was certified LEED GOLD and is using 45% wind and solar renewable power.
Passionate Pollution Prevention
We adopted an electronic records retention policy which aims to preserve electronic files in place of paper whenever possible. We utilize a paperless pre-bill and invoicing program and remain committed to a firmwide electronic filing system. Certified local vendors recycle all obsolete printers, computers and network equipment. We have moved several systems and workloads to hosted and other cloud-based IT platforms.
An example toward reducing pollution is our usage of Iron Mountain to securely shred and recycle confidential documents, sending processed materials to paper mills for pulping. For example, in 2019, Iron Mountain reported we reduced 115,702.440 lbs. of CO2 emissions, conserved 399.525 cubic yards of landfill space, preserved 1,340.806 trees, saved 2,190,275.955 gallons of water and 180,585.300 kWh of electricity!
Our Minneapolis office has also participated in an Electronics Recycling Program in partnership with PCs for People, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable personal computers, computer repairs, internet service, and education to people with limited technological experience due to social, physical, or economic circumstances. Sixty-three old and unused computers and monitors were donated, refurbished, and distributed, providing computer access to more than 200 individuals.