omaha, nebraska (402) 681 - 9458 | info@verdisgroup.com

Our home to share our thoughts and host an (e)discussion about the opportunities sustainability presents and how our world will be changing as a result. From savvy strategies for clients to our fleet of Schwinn 10-speeds and everything in between; we invite you to the conversation and hope that we can explore true.green. together.


Just over a year ago (May 2014), we conducted our first Passion Projects. In a nutshell, all six of us are given a 24 hour period to do just about anything. At the end of that period, we convene at Fontenelle Forest and we each spend some time talking about what we did and what we learned. There’s no expectation or requirement that the activities directly align or relate to our work, although they always have.

We’ve since repeated the exercise in February 2015. Here’s a list of a few Passion Projects from the team:

  • Researched local ecological impacts of and potential policy solutions for climate change
  • Researched water issues specific to the Omaha region
  • Researched recycling behaviors for the apartment dwellers in our building (Tip Top)
  • Researched and prepared a list of the top 20 best practices for conducting an effective meeting
  • Researched biomimicry and how it relates to our work

I have an interest in and passion for Omaha’s physical design characteristics and how they impact our daily lives. My time spent on Omaha’s Urban Design Review Board really opened my eyes to just how much (or how little) our community cares about improving our urban environment.

The way we design and build our largest public spaces – our streets and the associated right of way –  have a huge impact on our community’s health, safety, ability to safely and enjoyably use active transportation, and our well-being. So I decided I wanted to measure the quality of six intersections in Omaha to see what I could learn about how our community’s urban form is faring.

I focused on intersections that are traditional main street environments, as I have a high expectation that they are the best, most-inviting places for anyone and everyone. I then created a scoring system after doing a little research and set out to take measurements and conduct observations. The results:

  1. 11th & Howard
  2. 24th & N
  3. 24th & Lake
  4. 50th & Underwood
  5. 64th & Maple
  6. 33rd & California

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Rather than diving into the details via this blog post, I think it’s easiest to offer an actual summary of what I did, what I learned, and where these intersections excelled and fell short. Here are the results: Passion Project: Assessing the Quality of Six Omaha Intersections.

As noted therein, this is not necessarily my area of expertise. As such, many experts in the field will look to the methodology and chuckle. I’m cool with that. My hope was not to conduct a highly rigorous analysis. Rather, I wanted to learn something. And if what I did and the manner in which I did it sparks a discussion or could be used in some small way to improve Omaha’s urban environment, I’ll consider it a win.

Onward and upward!

 

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Park Arbor Day - 4

(above) Students from Kearney Public Schools participate in a tree planting event to celebrate Arbor Day. (April 2015)

 

Spring is probably my favorite time of the year. The weather improves, nature becomes prettier, people seem more energetic and happy, and two of my favorite sports (track and field, baseball) are in full swing. Spring is also a time when we seem to pay more attention to the environment and environmental issues. Thank you, flowering plants and Earth/Arbor Day.

As people check back in with the environment, I would like to take a few moments to allow you to check back in with our work. Here’s what’s new and exciting at some of our clients:

 

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

Due to successful investments in sustainability projects during the past four years, the zoo’s revolving Green Loan Fund currently sits at an all-time high amount, and the zoo is avoiding energy and water costs of over $385 thousand annually. The zoo is also busy constructing its new African Grasslands exhibit, which will incorporate sustainable features that conserve energy and water. For example, the elephant barn floor will be made of sand and natural materials instead of concrete, thus requiring little or no water for cleaning.

 

Omaha Public Schools

The U.S. Department of Education recently named Wilson and Gomez schools winners of the 2015 Green Ribbon Schools award. Meanwhile, the district has established new goals related to energy, water, recycling, and emissions. New estimates indicate the district has achieved $4.9 million in energy savings over the past four and a half years.

 

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Since rolling out its Sustainability Master Plan several months ago, UNO has earned Omaha by Design’s inaugural Access & Mobility Award. UNO has also launched its online dashboard widget that showcases the university’s progress towards its sustainability goals.

 

University of Nebraska Medical Center & Nebraska Medicine

UNMC and Nebraska Medicine recently celebrated their 5th annual Earth Week to engage students and staff in environmental stewardship. In June, UNMC and Nebraska Medicine will launch the TravelSmart program. This transportation/parking demand management program will encourage/incentivize staff and students to bike, carpool, use transit, and walk to the 42nd & Dewey campus. The program will include subsidized bus passes and free rides home in emergency situations.

 

University of Nebraska at Kearney

UNK is currently finalizing goals for its Sustainability Master Plan and will soon begin prioritizing strategies for achieving said goals. While that planning is underway, UNK has started a Recycling Task Force to improve its campus recycling program. Recently, several campus groups partnered to conduct the annual waste audit, in which volunteers sampled UNK’s waste and recycling streams. Also, led by the student group Enactus, UNK is researching a bicycle sharing program.

 

Kearney Public Schools

Thanks, in part, to this school year’s Green Schools Challenge, the district has accomplished exceptional decreases in electricity consumption in most buildings and increases in measured levels of sustainability engagement.

 

We are so proud of our clients’ sustainability achievements. As spring warms into summer, I look forward to ice cream, and our Verdis Group team looks forward to continued success with the organizations we serve. -BR

 

 

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We are extremely excited to announce that on May 12, at the Greater Omaha Business Excellence Awards, we will receive the Greater Omaha Chamber’s 2015 Small Business of the Year Award. It’s a huge honor to be recognized with such an award; we are truly thrilled!

In the spirit of giving thanks and giving back, we’re offering small businesses a deep discount on our work. For a limited time, your small business (this includes you, nonprofits) can get our multiple-award-winning team of experts involved in quickly advancing your sustainability efforts.

Through our Small Business Sale, we’re offering the following scope of work. We will:

  • Facilitate a kickoff meeting with your project leads
  • Collect and analyze 12 months of data and other information
  • Conduct our proprietary Sustainability Engagement Index survey of your organization
  • Develop baseline performance metrics and recommended measurable goals in the areas of energy, water, waste/recycling, emissions, and employee sustainability engagement
  • Conduct two interviews with key personnel
  • Facilitate a two-hour workshop with select employees; includes pre-workshop reading assignment
  • Deliver key findings, goals, and sustainability recommendations (the deliverable)

It’s a streamlined scope of work that is comparable to what we’ve been doing for much larger clients like the University of Nebraska at Omaha, UNMC & Nebraska Medicine, and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. The end-result is a succinct and straightforward document that will provide your organization with a clear action plan for capitalizing on all the opportunities that sustainability presents.

All this for $3,000 – 5,000! Yes, you read that right. A similar scope of work would normally cost $8,000 – 10,000, but for a limited time, we’ve cut the cost and would love nothing more than to help several Omaha small businesses advance their sustainability efforts.

It’s pretty amazing that the business community recognizes the value that we bring, and we hope to graciously accept the award and turn right around and give a little back to the small business community.

Interested? If so, give me a shout at craig@verdisgroup.com or (402) 681-9458.

Onward and upward!

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