Sustainability: A Foundation of the NRDC Facilities Team

“Through superior stewardship, our facilities foster a collaborative and inclusive workplace. By prioritizing the planet, we will continue to inspire our community to strive for the highest level of environmental standards and a sustainable future.”

-NRDC Facilities Team Mission Statement


The term ‘sustainability’ gained prevalence in the late 60’s and early 70’s. One example of an early source of the emerging term was within the Economist’s “A Blueprint for Survival”. Calling for the need for a sustainable paradigm, the journal raised issues of the depletion of natural resources and disruptions of natural systems of which all life depends, caused by a growing human population and rapid consumption. Today, ‘sustainability’ appears within all facets of our communities—in policy, on product labels, and within restaurants. The term is now so commonly used that its meaning is often left abated and reduced to something tied to saving the environment. Although sustainability is rooted in the environment, the term encompasses far more than the conservation of our natural resources.

Considering the reduction of the term ‘sustainability’ to a catch-all phrase for anything related to the planet, NRDC assures to clearly define what we are aiming to sustain and for whom. NRDC selectively uses the term, however does not eliminate it from our lexicon as it is still currently a relevant and relatable word to many of our stakeholders and those we aim to reach. The NRDC Facilities Team focuses on the triple bottom line of sustainability, which goes beyond the sustainability of the environment by also ensuring the sustainability of our people and fiscal resources. Sustainability for NRDC is based within meeting the needs of all things present without compromising the ability for future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability encompasses prudent practices that support ecological, human and economic health and vitality.

Sustainability is at the core of the Facilities team of NRDC. The term is embedded throughout all our work—from the architectural details in our buildings to the systems designs, as well as within our operational choices. It is an integral concept in maintaining the key foundation for NRDC’s work to continue to succeed in safeguarding the earth. NRDC Facilities team’s guiding values seek to deliver environmental, social, and economic sustainability within our organization.




Environmental Sustainability:


The Facilities team’s goal toward reducing the harm and increasing the good we do for the planet is carried throughout all decisions the team makes. From the physical infrastructures of the buildings we inhabit to the operational standards that guide our work, overall sustainability of the natural resources and systems of which life depends, is priority. We plan, design, and construct each of our offices with strategies and practices seeking to exceed the highest standards of water and energy conservation, source recycled and non-toxic materials, and reduce carbon emissions through purchasing local renewable energy where available. We focus on producing spaces that remain physical manifestations of NRDC’s environmental values, creating the most ecologically sophisticated offices in the world.


Social Sustainability:


The Facilities team’s goals are also targeted toward the sustainability of people, both NRDC staff and humanity at large. We aim to produce spaces that not only foster healthy work environments to enhance the mental and emotional well-being of our staff, and also to enhance the wellness of the community through decisions backed by social responsibility. Internally, we create a toxic-free workplace with locally sourced furniture and products. We design spaces that allow ample natural light and air flow to encourage a productive atmosphere for staff. We introduce biophilic design elements to serve staff’s innate connection to nature and to foster well-being. Externally, we advocate for social equity, inclusion, and diversity to ensure the health and resiliency of our communities through conscious purchases, effective communication, and continuous efforts to forge relationships with other socially responsible organizations.


Economic Sustainability:


Economic sustainability is intrinsically linked to the environmental and social sustainability achieved by the NRDC Facilities team. By prioritizing the environment and people, economic sustainability will be achieved. The implementation of innovative practices aimed at reducing impacts on the environment directly facilitates a reduction in consumption, garnering an overall financial savings. In addition, the development of a solid foundation through effective and efficient stewardship ensures the longevity of the organization. The Facilities team’s goal to produce a healthier and happier work environment promotes financial sustainability with boosts in productivity and increased employee retention. Focus on constant collaboration and inclusivity drive exchange of diverse ideas and solutions ensuring success and continuity of the organization. 


The NRDC Facilities team focuses on achieving the most comprehensive form of sustainability aimed at creating and maintaining environmental integrity, healthy communities, and economic resiliency. In our team’s mission statement and guiding goals are embedded values key to achieving this all-encompassing use of the term ‘sustainability’. It is integral in developing the foundation necessary to produce the successes achieved by NRDC as an organization and maintain NRDC's broader mission to safeguard the earth, its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems of which all life depends.  


Authored by Anthony Galura