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VOL. 130 | NO. 78 | Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Going Green

Hnedak Bobo Group practices sustainable principles

By Amos Maki

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On a recent Friday afternoon, Hnedak Bobo Group team members were huddled in the company’s basement at 104 S. Front St.

The firm’s employees were busily sorting a wide range of architectural and building materials, everything from tiles and laminate to wall covering and carpet.

Hnedak Bobo Group employees Tom Do and Alexandra Campbell load a moving van with donated materials bound for schools, humane societies, artists, families and organizations across the area. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“This year we probably cataloged more material than all the other years combined,” said Deidre Brady, an associate at Memphis-based architecture firm HBG.

Instead of sending the materials off to the landfill, HBG employees were preparing the materials for reuse.

Brady and her colleagues, along with ZeroLandfill and the International Interior Design Associates, were gathering the design leftovers to donate them to schools, humane societies, artists, families and other organizations across the area.

The program keeps thousands of pounds of design scraps and leftovers out of landfills while also helping schools and other organizations in the community.

“They get really creative with the materials and it’s great to divert this product that would otherwise go to a landfill,” said Alexandra Campbell, a designer at HBG.

The general public can pick up these materials Saturday, April 25, at Scott Fabrics at 2790 Broad Ave.

“I would suggest people get there as early as possible because the materials go very fast,” said Campbell.

The conservation efforts help people like Debby Henry, who runs It’s a Small World, a small daycare in Gallatin, Tenn. It accepts traditional students as well as children who receive some form of government assistance.

“We are a private daycare but we also receive government-assisted children,” said Henry. “Every daycare does not do that. We’re not very large so therefore we don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on materials.”

Henry hoped to carpet an area of It’s a Small World but didn’t have the funds. HBG stepped in and donated, or “upcycled,” carpet tiles, carpet that comes in large, easy-to-assemble squares as opposed to typical carpet rolls.

Hnedak Bobo Group employees (from left) Mary Wagner, Lisa Lee, Tom Do, and Alexandra Campbell stand with a fully-loaded moving  van. The truck is filled with donated design scraps destined to be “upcycled” at a public event Saturday, April 25.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“It was so nice because we were able to carpet our home living area for our three-year-olds because that’s something we had not been able to do,” said Henry. “It makes that area look bright, exciting and fun and that’s wonderful for the children.”

“It’s a win for (Hnedak Bobo Group) and it’s a win for us,” said Henry. “Anytime anyone has something they can repurpose and use again, they should.”

The thought of children frolicking on carpet tiles that were destined for the landfill brought a smile to Campbell’s face.

“I am inspired to know that children are getting use and extending the life of the upcycled carpet tiles because children are our future and they are learning at a young age that, big or small, all of us have an impact on the world we live in,” she said. “The benefit to upcycling rather than recycling is that it takes zero of the planet’s resources to give a product like carpet tiles a new life and it’s much better than going to the landfill where it could take hundreds of years before it decomposes.”

This is the third year Hnedak Bobo Group has taken part in the ZeroLandfill drive. The firm has taken on a leadership role in organizing the event and encouraging other local firms and designers to think about what they can donate throughout the year.

“The day after last year’s donation, we started storing the products for this year’s drive and now we are busting at the seams,” said Campbell, who is also Memphis IIDA director.

“Last year, we kept 9,000 pounds of these design leftovers out of local landfills, and this year we expect even more.”

HBG’s interest in environmentally friendly and sustainable practices stretches far beyond the ZeroLandfill drive; it has become a core piece of the firm’s culture.

Hnedak Bobo Group completed interior design work on a new, nine-story Highwoods Properties office building, which will be occupied by International Paper and is a LEED-registered project.

HBG designed the nine-story, 225,000-square-foot building’s interior focusing on several green design aspects, including maximizing the use of natural light and selecting products manufactured from sustainable resources that contribute to healthy indoor environments.

“We really tried to look at things that benefitted the end user,” Brady said.

The firm also developed HBGreen, an initiative to encourage its clients to embrace sustainable building practices and to reduce the firm’s own carbon footprint.

“It is part of the firm’s core strategy to reach out to clients and get them to embrace sustainability and sustainable design, and for the company it’s a way for us to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Brady.

HBGreen’s internal goals are to achieve LEED accreditation for half of the HBG workforce, up from about 20 percent now, and to modify its offices and employee behaviors to reduce consumption of resources and integrate sustainable options.

Sustainability is integrated, whenever possible, into every project as well as into the company’s daily operations.

In addition to having recycling bins for paper, plastic and glass, HBG established in-house recycling areas for items like batteries, light bulbs, printer cartridges, computer monitors and printers.

The HBGreen effort even came down to what cups employees use for coffee or other beverages.

In 2011, the firm stopped using Styrofoam cups. Brady estimated that the firm has diverted around 1,600 cubic feet of Styrofoam – enough to build a six-by-six foot tower 45 feet tall – from the landfill.

“I think these small benefits add up exponentially over time and that is what we try to tell our clients,” said Brady.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 74 196 20,828
MORTGAGES 86 244 23,989
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 39 3,086
BUILDING PERMITS 138 453 43,046
BANKRUPTCIES 64 174 13,354
BUSINESS LICENSES 21 56 6,678
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 30 82 7,871
MARRIAGE LICENSES 14 59 4,702