Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt Awarded for Sustainable Law Office Leadership

Congratulations to Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, winner of the Sustainable Future Section’s 2011 Sustainable Law Office Leadership Award. Not only was Schwabe an early adopter of sustainable practices, but the firm continues to pioneer innovative sustainability measures.

Schwabe commissioned its first sustainability audit in 2005. In 2008, Schwabe established sustainability as a core value of the firm. To implement the firm’s commitment to sustainability, Schwabe set goals to decrease paper usage by 10 percent, increase by 25 percent purchases of office supplies manufactured from recycled materials, establish employee commuting initiatives, reduce energy use, and encourage vendors to adopt more sustainable practices. In 2009 and again in 2010, Schwabe was named one of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work for in Oregon by Oregon Business magazine.

Over the past several years, Schwabe has taken steps to significantly reduce the firm’s impact on the environment by reducing its waste and consumption of resources. In total, Schwabe supports 15 different types of recycling programs. In addition to ongoing paper, plastic, and metal recycling programs, Schwabe reduced waste by initiating programs to recycle batteries, cell phones, corks, Tyvek envelopes, DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes. Schwabe collects pens, markers, and mechanical pencils for recycling and encourages employees to bring plastic bags, printer cartridges, and compact fluorescent bulbs from home for collection and transport to the recycler.  Schwabe also installed compost bins in the lunchroom kitchen and at all coffee stations. 

Schwabe has also significantly reduced its resource consumption. The firm set up a program with the local Starbucks to provide durable coffee mugs rather than paper cups for Schwabe employees. Schwabe replaced disposable dishware and utensils in its lunchroom and conference center with durable products. To reduce paper use, Schwabe provides online payroll information rather than paper paystubs, prints marketing materials on recycled paper with soy-based ink, and uses 100 percent post-consumer-content bond paper and100 percent post-consumer-content copy paper. The switch to post-consumer-content paper saves an average of 420 trees each year.  Schwabe also worked with vendors to convert from corrugated packaging to reusable totes for all supply shipments.  To reduce energy, Schwabe installed low-energy lighting and motion sensors in its offices, copy rooms, file rooms, and library. Schwabe also uses virtual servers to reduce heat and HVAC requirements in its server rooms. To conserve water, Schwabe installed low-flow faucets and showerheads in all its sinks and showers.

Schwabe encourages employees to reduce their own carbon emissions by facilitating alternative commuter transportation. Schwabe offers a carpool matching resource on the firm’s intranet, subsidizes up to 50 percent of a monthly pass for public transportation, provides shower facilities and lockers for bicyclers, provides a Toyota Prius on site, and maintains a Zipcar membership for workday transportation. A firmwide survey revealed that 66 percent of Schwabe employees in Oregon and Washington commute to work by taking public transportation, carpooling, bicycling, or walking.  Schwabe also restricts deliveries of office supplies to twice weekly.

In addition to increasing sustainable practices within the firm, Schwabe encourages sustainability in the community. Schwabe and Portland State University partnered in 2008 to create the annual Youth Leaders for Sustainability Camp (YLS). YLS is a one-week summer camp for middle-school youth, teaching sustainability concepts, introducing campers to industry and community leaders in sustainability, and identifying ways in which campers can personally take steps to increase sustainability in their own communities. 

Schwabe also provides pro bono services to Wallowa Resources, a not-for-profit organization that develops, promotes, and implements innovative ways to increase sustainability in Wallowa County and the Intermountain West. For example, Schwabe has advised Wallowa Resources regarding community forest bonds and conservation easements. Over the past year, Schwabe helped Wallowa Resources Community Solutions, Inc., to create a revolving fund for small-scale renewable energy projects in Wallowa County and the surrounding area.  Schwabe also provided pro bono counsel to the Enterprise School District relating to the District’s conversion to a biomass boiler.

Through early adoption of sustainability as a core value, continuing innovation of sustainable office practices, and encouraging sustainability outside the office, Schwabe has become a leader in sustainability for the legal community. The Sustainable Future Section applauds Schwabe for the firm’s contributions to increasing sustainability.

Written by Robin B. Seifried, an attorney at Cable Huston Benedict Haagensen & Lloyd LLP and treasurer for the Sustainable Future Section.