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"Communication is the Key to Exceeding Expectations"

  
  
  

By Schuyler Stuart, Environmental Specialist II

The goal for any business operating in today’s market should be to not only meet client expectations but to exceed them.  Exceeding client expectations is what sets a business apart from other businesses that provide the same services and ensures not only customer loyalty but customer expansion and profitability.   This was the topic of conversation at John Cannon’s presentation on Exceeding Expectations.  John is the associate director of the physical plant for planning & operations at the College of the Holy Cross.   His article, to which this lecture focused, was published in the APPA magazine Facilities Manager September/October 2011 issue.

The presentation focused on the mysteries of expectation development and why we can find ourselves in situations where expectations have not been met.  Often enough, as Cannon explained, we create our own disappointments when we do not meet the expectations that we set for ourselves or others.  Cannon used the simple example of attending a baseball game.  Your friend offers you a free ticket to a baseball game of your favorite team.  You go to the game your team wins and you have a great time.  Now imagine that your friend told you that you would be meeting some of the players after the game.  You go to the same game, your team wins and you have a great time.  However when the game is over the players must leave unexpectedly and you do not get to meet them.  Now instead of being satisfied with your experience you are incredibly disappointed and feel as though you have been cheated.  By setting an expectation and not meeting it a wonderful experience has turned to a disappointment.

This same scenario holds true in the business world.  By being aware of your expectations and those you are setting for others you ensure that you are always meeting client needs and forging great business relationships.  The best way to be sure that your client is having his or her expectations met is by over communicating.  The most common situation where expectations are not met stem from a lack of communication one person simply misunderstands the expectations of the other.  A great example of this is explained when Cannon sets up the power outage scenario.  He gives the scenario to two groups of people with only one difference; communication.  A snow storm hits and One group receives a notification from the power company that the power will be out for X amount of hours because of backups.  The power is restored 2 hours before that time.  The second group looses power and it is restored at the same exact time.  However while group one is generally satisfied with their service, group two is highly dissatisfied.  How could this be?  Both groups received the same electrical work and the power was restored at the same time.  The difference is the service provided and the communication between the power company and its customers. 

More often than not clients will understand when things go wrong.  They do not expect absolute perfection.  However, they do expect a certain level communication and customer intimacy.  People in general are much more receptive to honest mistakes than covered lies and deception.  Take the following for example:  you are going to be late to a job or meeting.  It is best to call ahead and explain the situation honestly so plans can be made to re-schedule or adjust as needed.  The client will be much more receptive to the truth and appreciate your humility than if you just showed up late using whatever convenient excuse you could come up with.  These situations are usually transparent and only undermine the development of business and personal relationships.

Communication is the key to exceeding expectations.  The more honestly and openly you communicate with those around you, the more success you will have personally and professionally.  Expectations are only exceeded when you are aware of them.  If you take the time to understand the expectations you are creating you can effectively manage and use them to deliver the WOW to your client each and every day.

Triumvirate Reforestation in Costa Rica

  
  
  

Over two thousand miles from our Somerville, Massachusetts office, Triumvirate is helping to alleviate global warming by working with Reforest The Tropics, or RTT. RTT is an applied research organization working to reduce the carbon footprint of U.S. industries through sustainable forestry and long-term, verifiable carbon sequestration in Costa Rica.

Every individual and every corporation is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions just by functioning on a daily basis: driving, turning on a light, heating and cooling buildings, shipping packages and letters, etc. All of these tasks require energy, which, in the U.S., is most often derived from fossil fuels. The combustion of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gasses which are a powerful contributor to global warming. The total amount of carbon released by the activities of a person or corporation is called a carbon footprint.

By supporting reforestation projects, companies like Triumvirate are helping to offset their carbon footprints. As trees grow, they sequester (capture) carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, where it can no longer contribute to global warming. Reforestation projects also provide jobs, support the forest ecosystem, and bring back habitats for rare and endangered tropical species.

RTT is a partner of the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign and a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and has been working with Triumvirate on a reforestation site in Costa Rica since 2007 (see first image below). Triumvirate's forest is 7.5-acres in the Las Delicias Farm and will sequester an estimated 188 tonnes of CO2 annually during the twenty-five year contract. TEI recently added an additional 2.5-acre plot planted in 2010 (see second image below).

The Triumvirate forest produces fruit (see third image below) for wildlife and for the workers, including plantains, yucca, corn, papayas, pineapples, cilantro and bananas. Wildlife thriving in the forest includes deer, monkeys, squirrels, armadillos, toucans, and a variety of other tropical birds and organisms. In the tropical climate the local grasses must be controlled, which is a major expense especially during the beginning stages of a forest's growth. This management is necessary for the forest’s health and allows the seedlings to grow into trees. Over forty different tree species combinations are planted in order to increase the forest’s biological stability and improve hardiness against climate change.

This endeavor is just one of Triumvirate’s efforts towards being a more sustainable and green environmental services firm. To calculate your own carbon footprint, visit the EPA webpage: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html

For pictures and information on Triumvirate’s work with Reforest The Tropics, visit:

http://reforestthetropics.org/

RTT Costa Rican Forest Page 3 resized 600

This is Arturo Pacheco, a Costa Rican farmer, visiting the 4-year old Triumvirate forests.

 

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This picture, taken on August 9th, 2011, shows a corn crop in the 13-month-old forest.

 

RTT Costa Rican Forest Page 1 resized 600

Insulating for Sustainability

  
  
  

by Greg Rosinski

Insulation’s purpose is to keep heat and cold separated within a home. This allows the area being heated to retain that heat rather than have it pass through the walls, and escape outdoors.

With Spring upon us, and heating bills in the mail it is noteco insulation uncommon for someone to think about ways to save on fuel consumption. The obvious reason for fuel consumption is through heating hot water or for heating the home. Excess fuel consumption increases the ecological debt that occurs with unnecessary use of resources to our environment. Considering the move of sustainability, and the benefits to everyone in the environment it is time people look deeper into their homes for areas to save on fuel consumption. Heat loss is the number one way to use more fuel than necessary. Most people simply think of their entry/exit doors or windows as the only offenders of heat loss; however, other areas to consider are electrical outlets, duct work, un-insulated heating pipes, holes in floors from piping, inside of walls, and in the attic. Investing in an energy audit will cost upfront, but the savings it will result is worth the investment. Decreasing the loss of heat in homes will help to limit the excess usage of fuel which helps the environment and saves on the costs of fuel. Decreasing the amount of fuel used helps to increase environmental awareness of conserving our natural resources. In addition fuel produces toxic emissions which are harmful to everyone, and the environment. Take the time to look through the house, business or other buildings to find ways to decrease on fuel usage.

As stated on the US Department of Energy’s web page, heating and cooling account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Insulation:

  • Saves money and our nation's limited energy resources
  • Makes your house more comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house, and
  • Makes walls, ceilings, and floors warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Visit the US Department of Energy’s web page for more information on proper insulation.

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_01.html

 

Costa Rica Sustainability Trip 2011: Our Carbon Sequestration Initiative

  
  
  

23c43bdby Alexa Kaubris, Life Sciences Account Manager

I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, it would be awesome to go to Costa Rica right now! It’s been so cold outside!” but I also understand that most people are also probably thinking “Carbon sequest-WHAT?”

Well, welcome to the blog that will help you understand it all.

The goal for this series of blogs is to bring you along with us as we embark on our second trip to Costa Rica to check on our carbon sequestration forests. Triumvirate has sponsored two forests on the Las Delicias Farm: one 7.5 acre plot that was planted in August, 2007, and one 2.5 acre plot planted in 2010. This fall of 2011, we will return to check on the fruits of our labor, literally, as we planted many species of trees including banana trees. 

Global warming is a real concern for all nations of the world, especially the United States, as evidenced by President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. Greenhouse gasses in the form of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons are trapping the sun’s radiation and drastically altering Costa Rica 2008 089temperatures and weather patterns around the world.   Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have significantly altered the global carbon cycle and have been found to increase plant productivity and ecosystem carbon storage in experimental settings.

My senior year of college, I was lucky enough to work on a project associated with the Duke Forest Free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiment. I helped process soil samples and analyze the carbon and nitrogen levels in the presence of elevated levels of CO2.

Stay tuned for chapters on the carbon cycle, more information and pictures from Costa Rica, and finally what Triumvirate is doing to be a sustainable and environmentally responsible company.

If you would like to learn more about the Duke FACE experiment go to: http://face.env.duke.edu/description.cfm

Painting and Sustainability

  
  
  

Greg Rosinskiby Greg Rosinski, Chemist

Technology has allowed multiple industries to move towards a higher level of sustainability. One specific industry is the painting industry, which has developed a paint and primer 2 in 1 paint. This new product moves painting towards sustainability b allowing time once spent priming walls to be completely moved past without impairing the quality. 2 in 1 paint eliminates to the amount of paint once needed to complete a job, and also boasts that it can be done in one coat. This helps to reduce the excess waste of metal/plastic for paint containers, and supplies used to create unnecessary paint. In addition these types of paints are low in volatile organic carbon (VOCs) which produce toxic fumes and residue that is hazardous to the environment. 

paint wasteVOCs are commonly found in paints, varnishes, cleaning products, markers, glue, and adhesives. All of the products if left untouched for a lengthy period of time will emit harmful gases that have adverse affects on health. Harmful effects of VOCs include asthma, cancer, and damage to the liver, central nervous system, and kidneys. Symptoms associated with exposure too high levels of VOCs are irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, allergic reactions, nausea, and dizziness.

An interesting study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resulted in findings that the indoor air is three times more polluted than outdoor air, and paint is among the leading causes. Comparing the costs of purchasing the primer for painting, and the overcoat paint versus the purchasing costs of a 2 in 1 paint primer resulted in the exact cost. What can’t be factored into the cost of goods comparison is the effect on the environment, excess materials used, or excess time spent painting. Additional ways to reduce VOCs in homes and at work are to remove unused products that have are associated with high levels of VOCS. Paint containers left untouched in the home can still emit VOCS simply sitting on a shelf. Products stating “Low VOCs” can be found at most retail stores, and should be considered as the first step in reducing household/commercials VOCs.

Radon’s Affect

  
  
  

By Greg Rosinski, Chemist II

The process of buying residential real estate includes steps to protect the potential buyer. This involves a home inspection to make sure that there are limited amounts of changes needed on the home, and if there is anything of concern an inspector will make the buyer aware of that. One test that is frequently ignored is the testing of Radon. Radon occurs as a result of the breakdown of Uranium in soil, rock, and water. As it breaks down it becomes a dense gas that if exposed to over long periods of time is known to cause cancer. Radon according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the world only second to smoking.

To help protect people from the harmful exposure of radon it is important to pay a professional for the proper testing. The test results need to be less than 4 picocuries per liter according to the EPA to be within be within a livable range. If the test comes back higher than 4 picocuries then it is necessary to install a radon mitigating machine. The cost of a radon mitigation machine is minimal compared to the risks of developing cancer.

Where are we with Recycling, Reusing, and Reducing?

  
  
  

By Danielle Flagg, Marketing Intern

Personally I try to recycle, reduce, and reuse every chance I get.  I recycle my plastic and glass bottles, cardboard and paper, etc.  I also try to reduce my plastic bottle use by carrying around a reusable eco- friendly BPA free, stainless steel water bottle.  

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When I grocery shop I remember to bring my canvas 

tote bags so I won’t have to waste plastic or paper bags.  These are just a few simple acts of greening that I have been able to proactively implement in my daily routine. I am sure 

many of you are familiar with this green movement, and how you can participate in helping to preserve our planet, but is it really that easy?  

During my last visit to Europe I was constantly reminded to recycle because everywhere I went there were 3-purpose trashcans designed specifically for paper, bottles, and trash.  This differs from the Boston area where those recycle trashcans are sparse. I have found that when there is not a convenient reminder to recycle in front of you, it is hard to develop these good habits.  Unfortunately, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” comes into play.  Most people will not bother to carry around extra “trash”, or rather “recyclable trash,” just because there is a lack of convenience of the proper disposal of these items.  So when it comes to cultivating the “green” culture, when does “going green” transform from a personal decision to mainstream culture? 

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Recycle your old cell phone

  
  
  

By Amanda Mendonza, Technical Services Representative

So my cell phone of 3 years finally blew up and I had to replace it. I will admit that I am not hip to the technology boom. All this iPhone, iPod, i…don’t really care. These materials are designed to have a shelf life so you have to keep the technology current, but beyond that is all the tech companies are competing against each other for the hot new product. Before you even get your new iPad 3000 home the newer iPad 3001 has already been released and you’re instantly obsolete. Where are all these products going when they are deemed useless or uncool? Businesses who utilize chemical waste companies to manage their electronic scrap can sit confidently that their materials are being recycled, especially under new stringent disposal requirements. But what about the municipal folk like myself, to whom do we turn? Sure, there’s the quarterly household hazardous waste day, but who wants all this junk sitting around their house collecting dust? And let’s be honest here, most electronics are chock full of heavy metals including lead and mercury. Well I learned the hard way that the techno companies aren’t doing their due diligence to put in place a product recycling program. Take what happened during my new cell phone purchase. The representative promptly handed me my shiny new phone as well as gave me back my fried former phone. I looked at him a little surprised, thinking he should have offered to take it and recycle it, instead he handed it back to me and I then had to ask “can you please recycle this for me?” He looked at me like I was kidding then said “yeah, I’ll get rid of this for you” and threw it under the counter.  It could be the simplest green movement a manufacturer can make; offer to recycle the products you sell whenever possible. It is the responsibility of the modern consumer to make sure they are pushing and utilizing these types of green initiatives by their favorite manufacturers. 

Sherlock your way into reducing your carbon footprint

  
  
  

By Amanda Mendonza, Technical Services Representative

We all want to know how we can reduce our carbon footprint, and some of us are tasked with actually doing it. If you are responsible for attacking your company’s carbon footprint, there are ways to go about it without looking like the green police. Send out a survey to a small group of people, maybe the head of each department, and ask questions regarding their department’s environmental behavior. This will set the base line for where waste originates. Ask about complaints their department has about waste, be it paper, equipment, etc., and ask them to list suggestions for improvement. More importantly, ask them why they haven’t implemented any of these waste minimization suggestions yet. You’ll find that sometimes a group just has tunnel vision about a waste-producing process. They know where they are with waste, they know where they want to be, but they are too busy to start implementing changes. You may want to take a leap of faith and ask them to point a finger at surrounding offending departments and get a sense for what they see beyond their own tunnel vision. Environmental detective work isn’t for the faint of heart, sometimes you have to be sneaky!  As you continue your investigation about waste problems, you will find disconnects in the reasons people produce waste. Offer your new found insights and wait for the accolades and criticisms. Weigh them out and take action quickly. The more quickly you pull the cloth out from under the place setting the more quickly they’ll see the magic and realize change is good and waste minimization is extremely beneficial. Plus the cost savings will take effect immediately!

New EPA Search Tool Makes Researching Hazardous Chemicals Easy

  
  
  

Written By Matt Bauer, Marketing Intern

The EPA recently added over 3,500 chemical facilities and 6,000 chemicals of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to their public internet database rightly named, Envirofacts. The TSCA rule was originally mandated in 1976 in order to give the EPA authority over industrial firms to require reporting and record keeping of certain hazardous chemicals.  Now, the EPA is focused on helping the general public to better understand this regulation and how it affects their surrounding environment.  Envirofacts is aimed to allow users to access information about the Environmental, Health & Safety hazards which may affect the air, water and land, from a single source.  This reference tool collects information from state and federal forms that are mandated by the TSCA rule, and compiles them in an easy to use database.  Information includes, the facility name, location,  granted permits, as well as tools to analyze the data.

            The site is further broken down into the following categories for simplified searches: Air Permits/Releases, Water Permits/Releases, Land Use, Waste Management, Toxics (Reports and Hazards,) Radiation, Facilities Information, Compliance History, Mapping, and Brownfield Development.  The EPA intends to continue adding more information in the coming months.

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