Silver Star began its official journey to become a more sustainable company in April of 2008 by establishing a formal program. While the company’s leadership has always been extremely supportive of the communities it serves and held a sense of responsibility to its employees and customers to be mindful of its impact, there was not an official “sustainability program” in place.
Sustainability is a relatively new word, although the concept has always been around: be mindful of your environment, good to your people, and fiscally responsible. Silver Star has embraced the notion that in order to be truly successful, we must be strong in all three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environment.
As a company, we felt that in order to truly change our operations to focus on these three crucial areas, we would need to change our culture and create a sense of accountability in our team. We have incorporated community participation and support of our sustainability initiatives into our job responsibilities. This program is around for the long-term and will continue to evolve as the technology around us changes. This is now simply how we do business.
We currently conduct quarterly waste audits, which provide us a general measurement of the volume of our waste. We initially analyzed our waste by “dumpster diving” to identify areas where we could eliminate waste by reducing, reusing or recycling. From this effort, we expanded our recycling program company-wide and incorporated cell phones, electronics, packaging, copper, and more.
- Reduced the amount of disposable paper and plastic kitchen products we tossed by replacing them with reusable kitchenware.
- Created an awareness campaign replace print magazine and catalog subscriptions with digital versions when possible, utilize duplex printing, use the backsides of paper for printing if duplex is not an option, and to recycle.
- Replaced all loose paper towel holders in bathrooms with hard roll to reduce waste.
- Reduced the amount of purchased copy paper.
We are fortunate to have a Purchasing Agent on staff, who is dedicated to this program. We began by writing a preferred purchasing policy outlining that we should use environmentally-friendly products with the least shipping distance, whenever possible and reasonable.
- Replaced 100% virgin copy paper with 50% post-consumer waste paper.
- Replaced tri-fold 100% virgin paper towels with 40% post-consumer waste hard roll towels (in most locations).
- Purchase refurbished ink toners.
- Replaced toxic chemical cleaners with environmentally-friendly alternatives.
- Replaced 100% virgin toilet tissue with 60% post-consumer waste tissue.
This is one area where we had already started working to conserve. To date, with rebates from one electrical co-op, Lower Valley, we have replaced all of our florescent lighting with an energy-efficient equivalent. With recent upgrades in some of our telecommunications equipment, historically very energy intensive, we have been able to install more energy-efficient options. We also placed signs around all common area light switches encouraging employees and customers to turn off lights when not in use.
- Installed small windows in 18 garage doors in Driggs location, allowing for natural light.
- Replaced all florescent lights in all offices, warehouses, and equipment huts.
- Installed an energy management system called Control 4, offered by our Preferred Partner Prestige Media & Design, in our Executive offices.
This is an area where we have not been able to gather very useful data, as we are on wells in most locations. Without a well monitoring system, we are using the data we have from one of our larger locations that is on City water to find areas for improvement. We attribute the majority of our water usage to irrigating our landscaping around our buildings. While we have not had an opportunity to make any significant changes in this area, we are working on a water conservation initiative this summer.
By nature our company vehicles are driven extensively, either to commute between corporate locations or to visit our customers.
- Installed a video conference system, provided by our Preferred Partner Prestige Media & Design, eliminating much of the traveling between Star and Teton Valleys.
- Encouraged employee carpool with a personal incentive program.
Areas of Exploration:
- GPS units in our fleet to increase efficient use of our trucks.
- Purchasing fuel efficient vehicles as we replace our pool cars.
- Instituting a policy to require use of a fuel-efficient vehicle for non-technician travel.
- Creating a No or Minimal Idle policy.
Inner Social Investment
Silver Star has always taken pride in its rich benefit program and focus on developing its employees. Our sustainability program takes our investment in our team a step further by analyzing what is truly important to our employees and finding ways to improve in those areas.
- Created an annual survey for employees to help us identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.
- Create action items to improve in areas of weakness each year.
- Include an employee satisfaction goal as a part of our annual strategic planning process.
Silver Star is known in its serving areas for its strong community support. Strong, healthy communities have always been a focal point for the company. In addition to our continued support of local organizations through the Caring for Community donation program, we added company-wide community service teams, which had an even greater impact through tangible projects.
- Established an annual community service project programs where all employees participate in hands-on projects in Star Valley, Teton Valley, and Jackson