We're doing more than just flashing "AVMA green" as the primary color in our palette. The American Veterinary Medical Association has a demonstrated commitment to fostering environmental awareness, protection, and stewardship. Our efforts include policies and guidelines for the profession as well as conservation and eco-friendly efforts made in our headquarters and Washington, D.C. offices.
CEI – champions of AVMA environmental policy
Among the various AVMA Councils and Committees providing guidance and leadership to the Association is the Committee on Environmental Issues (CEI). Comprised of AVMA members who are also subject matter experts on environmental issues relevant to the veterinary profession, this entity guides the AVMA in addressing the wide range of environmentally-related issues that impact or involve animal health, public health, and the veterinary profession as a whole. Waste disposal, livestock-wildlife interactions, invasive species, pesticides, One Health, and green practices are just a few of the topics tackled by the CEI.
The CEI has oversight of AVMA policies directly related to green practices, which include the following:
Greening the HQ
The efforts don't stop with making policies and guidelines. We strive to set an example – to "walk the walk," so to speak. Here's a list of some of the efforts we're making:
Inside our buildings:
- We've switched to electronic-based meeting materials instead of binders with printed materials for each member attending meetings of our various governing bodies, such as councils, committees, task forces and our Executive Board.
- We're using recycled paper for our copiers and printers, and everyone on staff is more thoughtful about whether they really need to print out an email or document.
- We use copiers that conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ink products that produce fewer consumables, which means less to throw away. Our color copiers use toxin-free, solid ink sticks instead of cartridges; there's minimal packaging, which means a nearly waste-free printing process.
- We use both sides of the paper as much as possible when printing or copying.
- We're committed recyclers. In our Schaumburg headquarters alone we recycle about 4.5 cubic yards of waste paper every week! We also recycle all of our old batteries and electrical ballast (control gear that stabilizes the amount of electrical current through a circuit), and in 2010 we recycled more than 1,000 four-foot fluorescent light bulbs.
- We've switched to multi-fold toilet paper, instead of rolls, so we no longer throw away partial rolls (or even the cardboard tubes).
- Both the toilet paper and the hand towels in our restrooms are made from 75% post-consumer recycled paper.
- We also are active recyclers when we undertake construction projects. During our 2009-2011 renovations of the bathrooms in our headquarters building, we recycled all of the old steel partitions, metal studs, copper pipes, brass valves and old wiring. We reused old light fixtures when possible and recycled those that could not be reused.
- Our bathroom renovations also brought all plumbing fixtures up to today's standard for low-flow toilets and sinks. We also have installed high-efficiency toilets in our Washington, D.C., office.
- We're in the middle of a lighting upgrade that is significantly reducing our energy usage, which helps the environment and saves money at the same time. Every time we upgrade a 2-foot X 4-foot light fixture. we cut our electrical usage by half! In addition to installing more efficient lights, we also are installing lighting occupancy switches, which turn off the lights when no one is around.
- We turn out overhead lights when we're not in our offices.
- When painting is done in our headquarters building, we use only low- or no-VOC paints.
- Our cleaning company has gone to a no-CFC cleaning product list.
Outside our buildings:
We're also environmentally conscious in our landscaping and groundskeeping for our headquarters site. Here are some of the efforts we've undertaken to be more green outdoors:
- When wear and tear forced us to resurface our headquarters parking lot in 2010, we sent 100% of the old asphalt out to be recycled into new asphalt.
- We converted the BIG American Veterinary Medical Association sign on the west face of our headquarters building from neon lighting to LED, cutting its electrical usage by 77%.
- We soil test every year, to make sure that we use only the right amounts of fertilizer, only where and when needed. We also have stopped conducting full-site weed control spraying; weed control now is done by hand spot spraying, only as needed.
- We have begun using more native and drought tolerant plants and reduced the number of annuals we plant, switching those out for perennials.
- We use an aerator/fountain in the pond outside our headquarters building. We also add fish to the pond as needed, and these efforts have combined to eliminate the need for chemicals to control algae.
- On Earth Day, the AVMA staff take part in a variety of earth-friendly activities, including biking to work, and picking up litter around the building and in the parking lot.