At EDC’s headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts, Bob Keagy is best known as the behind-the-scenes facilities manager—handing out parking stickers, responding to heating and air conditioning requests, alerting employees to fire drills, and all of the daily tasks needed to keep the building in good repair.
“The main goal is to supply a comfortable, safe environment so that EDC employees can do their jobs,” Keagy says. If there’s a stain on the carpet, a jammed window, or a cranky elevator, Keagy and his maintenance team are EDC’s go-to guys.
About a year ago, Keagy added another hat to his duty roster—a green one.
Keagy founded EDC’s Green Team to survey employees and communicate ways that EDC could “become a better corporate citizen.” EDC now recycles not only paper and cardboard but batteries, printer cartridges, and computer equipment; buys Fair Trade coffee and serves it in compostable cups; uses biodegradable cleaning products; and has switched to compact, fluorescent light bulbs that use less energy. That’s just the start.
How did you become interested in helping EDC go green?
Before I came to EDC, I was working for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority in Quincy as manager of the old shipyard. It was 180 acres of very old historic buildings. For a facilities manager, that was like being a kid in a candy store.
So when I came to EDC in 2001, I was familiar with working in historic buildings. EDC is housed in an older buildings that has plenty of quirks. It has been challenging but fun.
About a year ago I was at a meeting of MassRecycle—the Massachusetts Recycling Coalition. It got me thinking about ways that EDC could be greener.
Tell me about the EDC Green Team.
Initially, I sent around an e-mail to several staff members asking for volunteers, and six people agreed to join the team. Recently, we surveyed the entire organization and got a good response from people in all of the offices about things they would like to do to contribute to being green.
For example, based on EDC staff suggestions, we switched to Fair Trade coffee, which costs us less and still pays a fair wage to the people who harvest the coffee beans. These growers practice green growing techniques that are not harmful to the environment.
We switched to coffee cups that use a coating made from corn starch that will break down and decompose in landfills, which cups made with a petrochemical plastic coating won’t do. Styrofoam cups are even worse for the environment. We also encourage people to use their own coffee mugs.
What’s next for you and the Green Team?
We’re looking at ways of recycling that would be more economical than disposing of our trash. Ideally, I’d like to see us recycle 100 percent of it. But for that, you need to have a dedicated recycling center—an area of the building where you can bring all of your recyclables and have them picked up. We recycle most of our paper and cardboard, but I’d like us to find cost-conscious ways to recycle plastics, glass, and metal cans as well.
Recently, the team began looking into potential energy savings through shutting off computers at the end of each work day and will make a recommendation soon. I would also like to introduce more natural light into the buildings. This is now encouraged by most facilities management organizations as a way of reducing electric lighting loads—as long as you can diffuse the natural light to reduce glare.
What’s been most gratifying about your work?
Facilities work has always been involved with energy conservation and looking at ways to reduce costs. What’s changed in recent years is the concern about the environment, so recycling and reusing material has become even more important. It’s gratifying to work on that.
But I also enjoy working at EDC, which is a fantastic organization staffed by amazing people. EDC has a mission to develop programs to benefit humanity. It’s exciting to be a part of that.