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Making the “Ultimate Reuse” Sustainable

A gravitational assist from building to practice at CORE

Posted by Steve Hockley

Do you recycle regularly?
Do you reuse things whenever possible instead of throwing them away?

I’m betting that for the majority of people reading this, the answer to at least one of these questions is yes. This is because in our consumer-driven culture where everything is disposable, the need for resource reuse and recycling have gotten widespread attention.

So, if you answered yes to either of the previous questions, I have one more… Does your driver’s license say ORGAN DONOR?

Just as its name implies, the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE), located just north of Pittsburgh, is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) that coordinates the surgical recovery of organs and matches them with those who need them most.  In essence, they recycle the most valuable resource we have—life.

evolveEA first began working with CORE in January 2010, when the organization decided to pursue green building practices through the LEED for New Construction rating system for the expansion and renovation of its building.  Now, as the construction activity wraps up over two years later, CORE has decided to leverage its new green facility into something just as meaningful; a Culture of Sustainability.

 

Gravitational Assist

With its mission firmly rooted in the triple bottom line, CORE is the latest in a trend among our clients whereby the pursuit of green building leads to a deeper understanding of, and commitment to, sustainability. We call this “Gravitational Assist.”

Gravitational AssistAs outlined in “Constructing Green” (MIT Press, forthcoming 2013), we have found that green buildings serve as tactile representations of sustainability principles (i.e. waste reduction, efficiency, etc), and by “housing” an organization in a green building, the opportunity exists for these principles to permeate into other areas. Simply put, the sheer weight or gravity of a green building (place) can lead to further adoption of organizational sustainability practices, value-chain improvement (processes), and sustainability-related policies and communications (people)— see diagram.

Though the energy generated by Gravitational Assist can serve as a potent launching point for further action, we find that organizations are typically unsure where to begin, and can lose this energy without a strategic approach. In response to this we have developed an engagement process that focuses on understanding how sustainability fits into an organization’s mission and critical factors of success. Once this is established, we work with the organization to develop key performance metrics, measure baseline performance, identify stakeholder perceptions, develop short- and long-term sustainability goals, and build a strategic plan for achieving them.

Progressive organizations understand that organizational sustainability is not an end goal; instead it is continuous process of improvement. As such, the main intention of this engagement is to start the organization on a continuous sustainability improvement cycle with measurable performance indicators, and to leave it with the internal capacity to keep it going perpetuitously.

Right now, 18 people die each day waiting for an organ and over 100,000 people are on a waiting list. With passion and integrity, CORE is dedicated to saving and enhancing lives, and advocates for the transplant candidates who depend on them. We are excited and humbled to support them as they pursue this mission. Is there anything more sustainable than recycling life?

If you’re not already, please consider becoming an organ donor. You can register here.