Business, Capitalists with Heart

NCS Global Helps Companies Keep E-Waste Out of Landfills

NCS Global Inc., a New Hampshire-based company comes in. The firm not only processes over five million pounds of electronics yearly, but does so in the most environmentally-friendly way

When we think about recycling, we usually equate it to sorting plastic and paper into their own trash bins. At a business level, organizations have to deal with a much trickier problem — e-waste disposal and data destruction. That’s where NCS Global Inc., a New Hampshire-based company comes in. The firm not only processes over five million pounds of electronics yearly, but does so in the most environmentally-friendly way.

Since the company was founded 15 years ago, it has maintained its “zero landfill” policy while helping customers both large and small dispose of their e-waste. It is careful about who it partners with to ensure that no toxic e-waste slips through to the landfills. For the businesses it serves, NCS Global offers a cost-effective way to dismantle electronics, harvesting and testing parts for resale opportunities. In fact, many clients discover that their e-trash has real value.

Headquartered in Rochester, New Hampshire, NCS Global also practices what it preaches by working out of the city’s first custom-built LEED building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to set a benchmark for design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. Their 30,000 square-foot facility provides a working environment committed to green practices, staying in line with the company’s brand.

NCS Global is also recognized as an industry leader, having become one of the first organizations to receive the e-Stewards® Certification from the Basel Action Network (BAN), which recognizes a commitment to the environment. Add to that the designation of R2/RIOS Certified Electronics Recycler™, which the company attained in 2012, and it’s one of the few electronics recyclers to carry both certifications.

Community outreach and supporting the local economy is an important part of the success formula at NCS Global, too. In 2014, an Earth Day event was held which helped recycle thousands of pounds of electronic equipment, along with some corporate partners like Stonyfield Organic, Medtronic, and others. And when the company relocated, NCS Global turned to New Hampshire businesses to help with the construction, design, and security systems.

In addition to disposing of electronic waste, NCS Global keeps an inventory of over 75,000 used parts and refurbished computers and equipment to sell back to stores, distributors, and resellers.

By serving its clients to ensure that their unwanted data and electronics are disposed of safely, and not doing so at the expense of the environment, NCS Global has become a leader in its category.

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Saving energy by telecommuting – four ways to make it work

30 million people already work from a home office at least once a week. With the average employer spending about $10,000 in energy, real estate, and production costs per employee annually-telecommuting can be a win-win for the employee and employer.

Ever considered allowing some of your workers to telecommute? The practice has multiple benefits – from reducing your company’s environmental impact to increasing productivity.

When it comes to applying for jobs,  many young professionals consider  work flexibility as important as salary and other benefits.  As a recruitment tool,  embracing telecommuting can be very a great benefit for job seekers.

You’d certainly be part of a trend, as virtual workers are on the rise: more than 30 million people already work from a home office at least once a week, according to a study by the Telework Research Network, and experts believe that up to 63 million people will work from home by 2016.

Virtual workers reduce costs:

An August 2012 survey from Telework offers illustrative numbers on the environmental impact that would take place if those who have compatible jobs worked from home half the time:

  • The oil savings would equate to over 37 percent of our Persian Gulf imports.
  • The greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road.

Wondering how your workers might fare? Check out the following online telecommuting calculator (from GovLoop, with the help of HP) that uses information from a variety of studies and federal databases to break down the savings into the categories of money, time and pounds of carbon dioxide. For example, say you’re an SUV driver with a 30-mile, one-hour round-trip commute, who only travels to the office twice a week.

According to the calculator:

  • Money saved: $6,170 per year
  • Time saved: 156 hours of productivity
  • Greenhouse gas reduction: 4,196 pounds per year

Businesses can help their bottom line, too: Govloop says the average employer spends about $10,000 in energy, real estate, and production costs per employee annually. Administrative expenses, such as the need for desktop computers, office furniture and land lines, also could be reduced with a telecommuting workforce.

Ready to take the plunge? Here are four tips for initiating a virtual work schedule into your organization:

  1. Decide who can effectively telecommute.

    Before you allow the entire office to telecommute, figure out which functions make sense for a work-from-home schedule. If someone is in a more collaborative role, they may hurt productivity if they are out. But it might make perfect sense for a salesperson, who can work on the road most days.

  2. Decide what the schedule should look like.

    There’s no need to go all or nothing with telecommuting. Consider easing into it by having one day a week that is a telecommute day and see how it goes. Workers probably would be more effective telecommuting in the middle of the week, keeping Monday and Friday available for kicking off and ending the week with meetings or other team projects.

  3. Set clear expectations for the team.

    Make sure that workers are equipped with what they need, such as a landline and high-speed internet, to do their jobs effectively. Also have an agreement about what hours they will be available to the team. Ensure they realize that working from home is “working,” not doing chores or childcare.

  4. Check in on a regular basis.

    You don’t want to feel as though you are micromanaging your telecommuting employees, but there also is a case to be made for ensuring that they know they are being held accountable.

Most workers love a telecommuting option because it improves their work/life quality and for that reason they are apt to be highly committed to getting their job done successfully. Giving them the option when it makes sense can help improve their commitment to the company while improving the environment and your company’s bottom line.

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Green Living Energy Savings

Choose Green Builders

Hiring the right green builder can help you save money in the long run because energy-efficient homes have lower utility costs than less efficient ones, and it can improve the air quality of the home for your family’s health. As you’re vetting potential builders for a green home project, here are some things to consider.
You don't have to live in a tree house to consider living in a green or eco-friendly home.

For homeowners committed to sustainable design, finding a company that’s well-versed in the principles of green building creates additional challenges on top of the usual ones around budget and timeline. That said, hiring the right green builder can help you save money in the long run because energy-efficient homes have lower utility costs than less efficient ones, and it can improve the air quality of the home for your family’s health. In fact, the EPA’s Energy Star website features an interactive map where you can locate builders who meet Energy Star’s energy efficiency guidelines.

As you’re vetting potential builders for a green home project, whether you’re planning a renovation or building from scratch, here are some areas to consider:

  • Is the builder licensed and insured? Whether hiring a green builder or not, your first order of business should be checking whether the builder is licensed as a general contractor in your state. If you’re looking specifically for a green builder, you should also ask about any special green building training or certifications such as LEED.
  • Have you talked to the team? Often a company’s owner or project manager will be the one discussing specs for a job, but it’s the job crew who’ll actually be on-site doing the hands-on work. You’ll want to meet them as well and ask about their training in green building practices. How do they plan to minimize construction waste or avoid disrupting vegetation? Are they experienced at installing solar electric systems or energy-efficient windows if those features are important to you? Did they explain their processes in terms you can understand, or just shrug off your questions?
  • Did you check references? A trustworthy builder should be happy to put you in touch with past clients. In talking to other clients, try to go beyond standard questions like how close the builder came to the initial timeline and budget. Ask about whether the builder suggested eco-friendly materials like low-VOC paints or salvaged wood, or if the homeowner had to insist on them.

Once you’ve found a green builder you trust, put your environmental expectations in writing as part of the contract between you and the builder. A verbal agreement that you want FSC-certified wood and attention paid to avoid compacting the soil is not the same as getting those expectations in writing. If you’re working with an architect, he or she should draft a spec sheet outlining your green goals around practices and materials. Ask the tough questions to ensure that your builder can meet your needs and put you at ease.

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Featured Capitalists with Heart

Flowfold Finds New Life in Old Sailcloths

Inspiration can come from the most unusual settings. How a tattered leather wallet can inspire a teen to one day start a business.
"When we look at our business and what we want to accomplish, it’s more about telling our story and letting everyone experience the values we believe are important,”

So many successful businesses start with solving a problem. For Charley Friedman, president of Flowfold, inspiration struck as a teen, when he noticed that his grandfather’s leather wallet was falling apart. He was working as a sail maker at the time, and he designed a replacement wallet using scrap sailcloth.

That was the beginning of the Peaks Island, Maine-based accessories company that produces wallets and other gear from recycled sailcloths. Flowfold, which gets its name from a geology term that describes layers of rock that fold smoothly over time without breaking, officially launched in 2011.

Flowfold has so much confidence in the strength of its materials and craftsmanship that all of its products are backed with a lifetime warranty. Even better, its commitment to using recycled materials has helped Flowfold divert over 1,500 pounds of non-biodegradable materials from landfills.

Flowfold President Charles Friedman
Flowfold President Charles Friedman

If you’re thinking that this sounds like the perfect idea to bring to the TV show “Shark Tank” in search of funding and publicity, you’re not alone. In fact, the show’s producers have actually reached out to the wallet company, but they weren’t interested. “We want to set our own path and our own values. Shark Tank would be a very different path, so we’ve shied away from that,” says Devin McNeill, the company co-founder and co-owner. “When we’re measuring our impact across the board, it goes deeper than just our finances.”

The Measure of Success

Flowfold currently has just three full-time employees in addition to its two owners, but McNeill says the company grew 150 percent between 2013 and 2014. The products can be found in over 150 brick and mortar stores across the county, while the majority of sales are done online.

Even with encouraging numbers, McNeill says that the company’s impact is what really counts, thanks to its quality products that allow users to have confidence in what they carry.

“How many customers were influenced by our message and our core values and what we’re about? When we look at our business and what we want to accomplish, it’s more about telling our story and letting everyone experience the values we believe are important,” – Devin McNeill, co-founder and co-owner

Those values include a commitment to the Maine economy. “We’re all about supporting local manufacturing, which is why all products are manufactured and assembled in Maine,” says McNeill. Maine culture is in the company’s DNA, he says. As the company website explains: “Peaks is the ideal testing ground for the items we create because of the exceptional carrying challenges of living on an unbridged island.”

McNeill says that a lot of inspiration and ideas come from growing up and living in Maine. “Our state is known across the country as having very hard workers, being able to weather all of the climate issues we have, and it has a really long history in craftsmanship.”

The combination of cutting edge materials and Maine craftsmanship has helped Flowfold create a unique product line that is expanding. “Just this week we released the passport holder and a checkbook case. We have such a loyal and great customer base that wants more products,” says McNeill.

In 2015, Flowfold is especially focused on listening to its customers, giving them what they want. Says McNeill: “We expect to continue to grow our team and provide more manufacturing work in Maine. We want our products to be at the core of your carrying needs. ”

Flowfold has generously offered friends and fans of Powertohelp.com and the Provider Power family of companies a 10% discount.  Visit their website at  and use the coupon code:  powertohelp 

Update:

Gorham Savings Bank named Flowfold as its third annual LaunchPad Competition winner. LaunchPad was created to help fund the growth of a Maine business. It not only celebrates great business ideas, it also provides the resources to help bring these ideas to life. Flowfold was named this year’s winner after a live, high-energy competition on June 18th.

 

 

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Featured Community

Bringing The Bard to Portsmouth with Seven Stages

Seven Stages Shakespeare Company (7SSC) is a professional ensemble of creative artists dedicated to generating a local and global dialogue by presenting exciting and accessible presentations of the works of William Shakespeare.
Seven Stages Shakespeare Company (7SSC) returns to Prescott Park. Photo Courtesy Bushor Photography.

Through their Power To Help initiative ENH Power will be sponsoring the 2015 summer season of the Seven Stages Shakespeare Company (7SSC).

Entering into its fifth summer in 2015, Shakespeare in Prescott Park brings full productions of the Bard’s work to Prescott Park in Portsmouth, NH.   This summer 7SSC will be back on Sunday afternoons mid-July through mid-August with “As You Like It” produced in partnership with Prescott Park Arts Festival.

From June 5th-13th 7SSC will present “What you Will, (or twelfth night)” produced at and in partnership with 3S Artspace in Portsmouth.

All of Seven Stages Shakespeare Company’s performances are FREE FOR ALL, Or Pay What You Will.  Christine Penney, co-founder and Producing Director of 7SSC relies on donors and sponsors to keep the arts affordable and accessible “our programming would be impossible without the support of our dedicated donors and sponsors like ENH Power. We think the cost of a ticket should not prohibit anyone from experiencing Shakespeare, theatre, or any art for that matter. Eliminating the financial barrier to entry allows us to bring Shakespeare to diverse new audiences. Our donors and sponsors literally make this possible, and for that we “…can no other answer make than thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.’ Twelfth Night III.3”.

7ssc-col

The Power to Help, an initiative of Provider Power (ENH Power, Electricity Maine, Provider Power Mass) seeks to bring together the people who are looking to enact change (business and non-profit leaders), with an understanding of energy in everything we do. While electricity is what we sell, it is also a means for us to support and raise awareness of groups and individuals working towards positive change.  To learn more about Provider Power’s Power to Help initiative, visit www.powertohelp.com.

Unrequited love and mischievous fairies collide on a starry night in one of William Shakespeare's most-loved comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Unrequited love and mischievous fairies collide on a starry night in one of William Shakespeare's most-loved comedies, A Midsummer Night's Dream.Photo courtesy: David J. Murray, Clear Eye Photo

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Save a buck and a tree. Think before printing at the office.

“Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” The interesting thing is that while offices are quite adept at recycling, it’s vital to realize that recycling is actually the third best option, after reducing and reusing materials.
Out of all the waste that's being land filled, more than 40% of that waste is paper, which can pollute the environment.

Most school kids today learn a new version of the “3Rs” to accompany good old “reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.” Today, they learn “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” The interesting thing is that while most companies are quite adept at recycling, it’s vital to realize that recycling is actually the third best option, after reducing and reusing materials.

Paper waste, in particular, is staggering. Typical business offices generate about 1.5 pounds of waste paper per employee each day, and financial businesses generate more than two pounds per employee daily.

Here are a few ways businesses can incorporate the first two Rs, which means there is even less to recycle.

Reduce

  1. Think before you print. Encourage your staff to rely on electronic files, which save space as well as paper in the office. If you have proper computer backup, electronic files are even safer than paper documents that can be lost to fire, flood or theft.
  2. Change the settings on computers and printers. Make “double-sided” copies the default. Reduce margins and font size to maximize the paper that you use. Print in the lowest-grade possible for pieces that won’t be sent to clients. Use fonts like Times New Roman or Arial that use less ink and take up less space. The cumulative difference of these small actions can be substantial.
  3. Keep track of printouts and copies. Most people have no idea how much paper they are using, so see if you can set up a system to track what is being printed. You can also configure your copier to ask for a code prior to making copies, which can alert staff to when they are making more copies than they need. Measuring weekly totals is likely to inspire workers to minimize their personal paper usage.
  4. Use the “print preview” feature to see how the document will lay out so you don’t waste paper printing multiple copies to check formatting. If you want to proofread on your screen, temporarily increase the font size which helps illuminate typos and other errors.

Reuse

Have to print? Americans discard 4 million tons of office paper every year — enough to build a 12 foot high wall of paper from New York to California. Eliminating office paper from your waste may reduce your waste bill by as much as 50 percent. Here are some ways to make it easy to re-use your paper.

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Efficient and Economic Living In Tiny Houses

Oversize homes, oversize mortgages and oversize energy bills have been replaced by tiny homes. Living the high life and moving on up to the top while living in a tiny home.
Tiny houses use less building material [...] which takes less energy to produce.

After the housing crisis of 2008, many homeowners grew disillusioned with the McMansions that had gotten them deep into debt. Aside from their super-sized mortgage, large homes typically also carry a large utility bill to heat, cool and light jumbo spaces. So, as Americans adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, it makes perfect sense that they’d also embrace tiny homes, with some as small as 196 square feet! We’re so fascinated with tiny homes that there are now reality TV shows like Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters, blogs that discuss the ins and outs of tiny living and even a Tiny House Magazine.

On first glance, one might assume that tiny homes make sense for single people without much stuff. That’s one demographic that inhabits tiny homes, but believe it or not, families with children and dogs also share tiny homes. Some homeowners even use a tiny home as an in-law suite or guest cottage built on their land rather than building an addition to their home.

Tiny house interior
On first glance, one might assume that tiny homes make sense for single people without much stuff.

And while creative storage solutions and a willingness to pare down your belongings is essential, here’s a look at a few benefits offered by tiny homes:

  • Less environmental impact: Tiny houses use less building material (and oftentimes use recycled or repurposed material), which takes less energy to produce. Heating, cooling and lighting a tiny house also takes less of an environmental toll. Some tiny homes operate off the grid using a composting toilet and solar power or wind turbines. Others are connected to a water and electrical supply, but still wouldn’t draw as much water and electricity as a full-sized home.
  • Less space to clean: Dusting, vacuuming and otherwise cleaning a full-sized home can feel like a never-ending chore. But when you live in less than 200 square feet, there are fewer surfaces to keep clean and more time for other activities.
  • Less temptation to accumulate stuff: Some tiny homeowners have extra storage at a friend or relative’s place and rotate items seasonally. But without huge closets and a basement or attic right at their fingertips, most tiny homeowners don’t feel the need to buy tchotkes or other extra stuff they don’t need. Many people find it freeing when they reduce their possessions to just those items they love and use on a regular basis.
  • Less expensive to acquire and maintain: You can sometimes get a bank loan or manufacturer financing for a tiny home. However, many owners pay for a tiny home out of their own savings (often less than $100,000), which means there’s no ongoing mortgage (although they might need to pay rental fees on or purchase the land). With less money devoted to housing costs, tiny homeowners are able to prioritize other goals like paying for travel and experiences, paying down student debt or working less and spending more time with family.

Looking for a more information about tiny houses in New England?  Check out www.tinyhousenortheast.com. They have tiny homes for sale, designs/plans and tons more info about tiny living in New England.

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Featured Capitalists with Heart

Brewing Up Sustainability With Cambridge Brewing

Cambridge Brewing Company, a fixture in Cambridge, Mass, balances great beer, a hearty meal and sustainability practices.
"Sustainability and environmentally friendly practices have always been important to us, and the more successful we become, the more we can invest what we need in resources and efforts to get better every day" [...]

Ask Cambridge, Mass. locals where to find a great meal and beer, and chances are they will say, “Cambridge Brewing Company,” which has been a fixture on the local dining scene since 1989. But step into their restaurant or peruse their menu, and you’ll see they’re about more than just a friendly environment. They’re also about being environmentally-friendly.

Start with the ambience of the restaurant: The CBC is located in a refurbished mill building that features high ceilings, exposed brick and skylights. The lighting is LED, the cleaning supplies are non-toxic, and employees frequently bike to work.

They are also committed to a zero-waste brewing process – from conserving and re-using water to offering spent grain to local farmers for animal feed.

CBC-outside

Owner Phil Bannatyne acknowledges that the restaurant hasn’t always been so environmentally-focused, mostly because sustainable practices weren’t as widespread when it launched. “As you grow, you chip away at the edges and make your venture better in every way,” he said, explaining their accelerated environmental commitment. “It starts with me,” he adds, “but I manifest a collaborative environment here, and there are lots of participants who buy in as much as I do.”

For its seasonally-inspired New England fare, the restaurant sources from as many local producers as it can, which not only assures that the ingredients are fresh but allows them to support those committed to what they call “the stewardship of land and productivity of the seas.” Partnering with local suppliers allows them to shorten the supply chain and help to create a strong local economy.

CBC-brewmaster
Will Meyers, Brewmaster

Bannatyne says he’ll find new suppliers through the existing network. “Word gets out among local farmers and small-scale fisherman that we are a business that’s excited about talking to them, and they are important to us.” He also finds connections when he’ll mention to a farmer, for example, that he’s trying to source a certain ingredient and he’ll get a reference.

The website lists the businesses, farmers and organizations they work with that match their commitment to sustainability and community and includes the specific item and time frame – from Ben “The Mushroom Guy,” who forages local mushrooms, ramps and fiddleheads; to Shy Brothers Farm, whose cheese is featured year-round.

According to Bannatyne, the sustainable focus is important to the customers – particularly the dinner crowd who seek them out for their reputation.

“Sustainability and environmentally friendly practices have always been important to us, and the more successful we become, the more we can invest what we need in resources and efforts to get better every day. As we continue to grow, I always take a step back to identify what are we doing and how can we do it smarter.” – Phil Bannatyne

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