Tuesday, March 28, 2017

BLOG: It's The Right Thing To Do

by Tammy Rogers, Sustainability Task Force Chair, Assurity

The Assurity Center in Lincoln, Nebraska displays its
Groundwater Guardian Green Site sign.
“It’s the right thing to do.” This is the long-time mantra of our president, Tom Henning, when it comes to business and sustainability. Following that mantra has led to a "green culture" at Assurity, not only in practicing green habits throughout our building, but also in the way we do business.

Assurity has been practicing sustainability in some form or another for almost 30 years. The building of our LEED Gold certified Assurity Center corporate office has given us many more opportunities to expand upon that culture. Additionally, becoming a certified B corporation in 2015 was another way to show our commitment to "doing good." 

We are firm in our belief that it is our responsibility to protect the environment and leave a small footprint.  One of the areas in which we have done that is groundwater conservation and protection.

Our efforts towards that end have earned us a Groundwater Guardian Green Site designation that we are proud to hold. There are many features of our corporate campus that qualified us for that honor:

Stormwater collection
During the building of the Assurity Center, an abandoned public storm water pipe was discovered running along the east and northern edges of the property.  This pipe was capped and is now an 180,000 gallon cistern that we use to reclaim and reuse storm water to irrigate our indigenous sustainable landscaping.

Our campus includes a rain garden, bioswales and pervious paving which reduce runoff and allow absorption of rainwater into the subsoil. 

The reuse of large quantities of storm water runoff reduces heat island effects as well as impacts to downstream receiving waters.
Stormwater management for the Assurity Center.

Landscape water use reduction
In addition to the reclaimed cistern, water for the campus landscape is pulled from wells in the area instead of using public water for irrigation.  Additionally, plants were selected that are native or specifically adaptive to Lincoln’s climatic conditions, reducing reliance on additional water use while creating habitat within the city.

Green (living) roofs
We have 3 green roofs totaling 8,000 square feet.  These roofs benefit stormwater quality and reduce the quantity of runoff.

Low-flow, water-conserving plumbing
We receive up to a 33% water use savings over the typical office building by using dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets and showers.

Energy recovery ventilators
In addition to reducing energy costs, these units also employ dehumidification as a part of the process, conserving water as well.

Building a sustainable culture began with Assurity’s top company leaders and has continued to grow with educational lunch ‘n learns, displays and an internal ‘Greenspace’ website that communicates related community events, activities and volunteer opportunities.  Our education efforts are led by our Sustainability Task Force.

The desire to do good for the environment will continue to be at the forefront of Assurity's business. It’s the right thing to do.


Tammy Rogers is the Chair of the Sustainability Task Force and a Senior Business Analyst at Assurity Life Insurance Company in Lincoln, Nebraska. Reach her at trogers@assurity.com.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of The Groundwater Foundation, its board of directors, or individual members.

Friday, March 24, 2017

BLOG: Business Responsibility to Groundwater

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Here at The Groundwater Foundation, we've been fortunate to work with a wide variety of businesses and corporations over the years. From big to small, these companies are working to protect and preserve groundwater in their own way - from construction and community development, to managing their sites in a groundwater-friendly way, to providing support for The Groundwater Foundation's mission.

One of the Foundation's central beliefs is that everyone benefits from clean, sustainable groundwater. Because of this, we believe everyone has a place at the table in protecting it - every person, every business, every industry; good actor, bad actor. It's up to all of us!

The next few blog posts will highlight businesses that take their responsibility to groundwater seriously, and it's evident in how they conduct their business every day.

What businesses do you know of that are good stewards of groundwater? They could be a good fit for our Groundwater Guardian Green Site programWhat are they doing to protect and conserve groundwater?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Awesome Aquifer Kit: Clean it up!}

This week in Frannie’s exploration of the Awesome AquiferKit is all about ways we can clean up the groundwater after it’s been contaminated.

For this activity, you will need pre-rinsed activated
charcoal, a small plastic cup, plastic wrap, a coffee filter,
a rubber band,and your cup of polluted water.
Just like we talked about last time, when we aren’t careful about which chemicals we use, how much of them we use, or how we dispose of them when we’re done, we can end up polluting a large area.  Often, it’s possible to clean up or treat the water so that it becomes safe again. We call this process remediation.  Let’s look at some ways we can remediate contaminated groundwater.

Remember that colored contaminated groundwater we set aside last time?  We’ll be using that now.  To start, we’ll fill a small plastic cup halfway full with charcoal.  Before we used this charcoal, we rinsed it with cool water and then let it completely dry to remove excess dust.

Fill the syringe with some of our colored water and dispense it into the charcoal cup, filling it about 3/4 full.  We’ll make a lid for our cup by cutting a small piece of plastic cling wrap so that it fits over the top of the cup and we’ll wrap it with a rubber band so it stays in place.  Shake the cup for 30-60 seconds and then remove the plastic wrap.

First shake...
...then strain.

Now we’ll make a second lid from a coffee filter and secure it with the rubber band again.  We flip the cup upside down and let the water, now mostly clean, pour out into a new cup.  You might need to repeat this step a couple times to clear all of the water of charcoal dust.  When we take water out of the water cycle to treat it, it’s called ex-situ remediation.  If we were to put something into the ground to clean and treat the water, that would be called in-situ remediation.