Sustainability Efforts

 

UniGroup continues to put emphasis on sustainability, particularly green initiatives at UniGroup . In 2013, UniGroup formed the UniGreen Team, a committee of volunteers from business units throughout the company who regularly meet to identify and advance projects that support the sustainability focus – our people, our planet and our future.

In addition to the UniGreen Team, UniGroup continues to look at other opportunities to create a more sustainable environment. Information on completed projects can be found below.

For more information regarding UniGroup green initiatives, email UniGreen_Team@unigroup.com.

ISO 14001 CERTIFICATION
UniGroup achieved the ISO 14001:2004 environmental systems (EMS) certification awarded following a comprehensive audit completed in April 2015. The development of UniGroup’s EMS enabled the company to document how it has improved its environmental performance, cut waste and reduced costs while improving service.

“We are very proud of achieving the ISO 14001 certification. We feel it is an important step we can take as an organization to show customers and the community UniGroup’s continued commitment to providing quality services in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Rebecca Peterson, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

In 2017, UniGroup was certified to the ISO 14001:2015 standard.

ENERGY STAR CERTIFICATION
The UniGroup building in Fenton is now an EPAENERGYSTAR certified building. UniGroup reached this milestone by improving energy efficiency to achieve a score greater than 75 in its initial year ofusing the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Tool. This means that the UniGroup building performs better than 75 percent of all similar buildings nationwide. UniGroup achieved this accomplishment through its continued focus on reducing utility usage by installing solar panels, induction lights and energy efficient lighting, and by also better controlling its HVAC systems.

INDUCTION LIGHTING
The parking lot on UniGroup’s Fenton campus was enhanced with induction lighting in June 2014. Replacement of 110 of the 400 watt lights with 250 watts (40 percent reduction) and 16 of the 1000 watt lights to 400 watts (60 percent reduction) is projected to result in a $20,000 per year savings. In addition to saving in electricity costs, the parking lots are significantly brighter and will be dimmed during the late night hours. Motion sensors were installed to brighten lights when applicable for security reasons.

Induction lighting is a viable option for commercial markets because of recent technology advancements and it is virtually maintenance free. There are no parts to burn out and its rated life is approximately five to seven times more than alternatives.

SOLAR PANEL INSTALLATION
In early 2014, installation was completed for a 100 kW grid of solar panels on UniGroup’s southern-facing roof. We partnered with StraightUp Solar, a St. Louis-based solar energy integration company, for the installation of one of the most significant arrays in Missouri.

View UniGroup’s real-time and cumulative energy generation here.

VARIABLE FREQUENCY DRIVES
In the past, HVAC systems were designed with the most efficient components available, sized for the worst-case scenario for operation or to accommodate future growth. However, now the best practice to minimize energy use is to select components that will be most efficient at the level they run the majority of the time. To help reduce energy usage by up to 30 percent, UniGroup installed chiller optimization packages on two main chillers. The chillers will now control compressor capacity through adjusting the speed of the compressor versus the prior method of closing the pre-rotation vanes, thus reducing electrical usage and wear and tear on the pre-rotation vanes. The optimization package also controls start-up of the chiller motor to improve efficiency and reduce risk of motor damage.  

SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING INFORMATION
UniGroup  utilizes a system called single stream recycling to reduce the amount of waste our office sends to the landfill. Participation in this initiative by our associates helps reduce our costs associated with waste removal.

Each work station is equipped with a blue recycle container. All recyclable waste can be disposed of in this bin, including papers, magazines, cardboard, cans, plastic, glass. Any food waste or non-recyclable items such as chip and candy bags must be disposed of in the centralized trash containers with dark liners. A yellow compost bin has been provided in the UniGrille to capture all food waste. The gray locked bins are also provided within centralized locations for confidential paperwork that will be shredded.

HIGH EFFICIENCY HEATING SYSTEMS
In 2016 UniGroup installed four small energy efficient boilers to replace two large inefficient boilers which were requiring significant maintenance costs to maintain their operations.


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