Find Your Fit

We recently shared news of our Denver office reaching the Silver level of the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP), one component of which was committing to a fully functional Environmental Management System (EMS) within three years. Today, we dive in a bit more on why an ISO 14001 EMS program is best fit for Spirit and how we will continue to make a greater impact company-wide and how this in turn helps our client-partners. We will look more broadly at the concept of third-party certification and provide insight into how we are considering them for our own operations.

On Monday, we discussed ELP program details and the specific activities that qualified the Denver office, as well as our commitment to an ISO 14001 compliant EMS. Being well versed in ISO 14001, we know that our direct environmental impacts are relatively minimal, and that putting in place a formal ISO 14001 EMS would typically not be warranted for a company of our size. So, why did we make this commitment? The answer lies in part that an ISO system provides the type of structure that complements the larger sustainability efforts we are implementing as a company. The “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle of an EMS aligns perfectly with how we are approaching sustainability as a whole.

Following an international standard like ISO 14001 provides benefits in terms of consistent reporting, standardization, and establishing processes to identify and improve any performance areas that aren’t up to par. This concept of using a third-party standard can be taken further for additional assurance by getting it audited and verified once complete. This provides additional validation of the system and ensures that no critical components are missed. Third party standards, assurance, and ultimately certification are also critical components of our sustainability program. Whether it’s LEED certification, SASB alignment, or in this case, an Environmental Leadership award, having the validation and recognition of the third party provides a host of benefits. The Colorado Department of Health and the Environment (CDPHE) manages the ELP, performs site visits and audits to ensure accuracy, and generally ensures that membership and award level are meaningful metrics. For Spirit, joining this exclusive group of companies that have also taken verified steps to generate positive environmental actions, we are accomplishing our goals of demonstrating that our activities are in line with our values.

We are also actively looking at other certifications and award programs, and will be pursuing additional certifications strategically. As we advise our client-partners to do, we are evaluating a number of programs in terms of benefits, impacts, applicability, and resources required. This ensures selection of the best fit and not pursuing anything simply for certification’s sake. We have taken preliminary steps and are evaluating several opportunities and will present more in our inaugural Sustainability Management Plan later this year or early in 2021. Some of the programs we are exploring include Energy Star Charter Tenants, LEED, ARC Performance Scoring, Certifiably Green Denver, B Corp, and the Green Business Bureau, just to name a few. At the end of the day, we are trying to find the certifications that align with our culture and represent the right level of effort for where we are in our sustainability journey. Right now, we are celebrating our Silver award in the ELP, and feeling extremely proud as we leverage that to take our next step.

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