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.


We’re officially ready to add to our small but mighty team! Job description is below and can be found here. Please pass along to all worthy candidates and consider applying yourself!

SUSTAINABILITY ANALYST

Verdis Group, LLC is seeking qualified individuals for a staff position. Ideal candidates will have a passion for and knowledge of sustainability, excellent communication (both verbal and written) skills, be adept at managing multiple responsibilities simultaneously, and have good data analysis capabilities.

SUMMARY
The skills and abilities necessary to sufficiently perform the duties are varied and require the individual to be adept at many tasks. The position requires flexibility, attention to detail, and enthusiasm for the work. Generally speaking, the successful candidate will perform a variety of qualitative and quantitative analyses, effortlessly advise clients on how to be more sustainable, and effectively communicate with colleagues and clients.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS
The successful candidate will perform the following tasks:

  1. Data Analysis: Conducting a variety of different numerical and theoretical analyses. Collecting, managing, tracking, analyzing, and summarizing data are very important components of the job; we will be placing a high emphasis on these abilities.
  2. Sustainability Knowledge & Strategies: It is our job to consult organizations on how they can be more sustainable; having in-depth knowledge of the industry and the sustainability strategies organizations can and should pursue is imperative.
  3. Communication: Effectively communicating, in verbal, written, and in some cases visual/graphical form, is an important component of the job. The ideal candidate will be able to communicate technical information in a clear, concise, and accessible manner.
  4. Project Management: The successful candidate will be expected to lead some smaller projects with an opportunity for increased project management responsibility.
  5. Other duties as assigned: We’re a small business, which often requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. New responsibilities will pop up, and the ideal candidate will be able to effortlessly handle many of them.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES:

  1. Thorough and accurate in all duties and responsibilities. Attention to detail is a key component of the position.
  2. Ability to think critically, problem solve, and trouble-shoot issues.
  3. Excellent planning and organizational skills and an ability to prioritize and manage multiple duties and tasks simultaneously.
  4. Ability to collect, organize, input, and analyze data in an extremely accurate and efficient manner, and an ability to effectively communicate the information.
  5. Knowledge of sustainable best practices as they pertain to businesses, organizations and communities.
  6. Skilled in using Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Apple software. Proficiency with Adobe’s Creative Suite would be a nice bonus.
  7. Skilled in demonstrating cooperation and professionalism.
  8. Ability to work well with minimal supervision in a team-oriented environment.
  9. Ability to effectively work and interact with various cultures and ethnicities.

SCHEDULE
Our current expectation is for this position to be full-time.

COMPENSATION
Compensation is $35,000 – $40,000 commensurate with experience. The firm also offers several benefits, both monetary and otherwise, that the successful candidate will be eligible for. They include but are not limited to group health insurance, bike and bus benefits, extremely generous paid time off, professional development stipends, short-term disability insurance, and flexible work schedule arrangements.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS
All individuals interested in being considered for this position should submit the following information:

  1. A letter of interest not to exceed one page
  2. Resume
  3. List of three references, at least one of which must be from a previous relevant employer

Interested parties should send the requested information to Craig Moody via email at craig@verdisgroup.com. Submittals will be accepted until the position is filled.

CONTACT INFORMATION
Craig Moody, Principal
Verdis Group, LLC
1516 Cuming Street
Omaha, NE 68102

ABOUT VERDIS GROUP (READ THIS. IT’S IMPORTANT.)
Our mission: we integrate sustainable strategies that help organizations flourish. Our work commonly falls into two categories: 1) sustainability master plans and 2) ongoing advisory services to assist clients with implementation of operational and behavioral strategies. In both cases, it’s important for us to be extremely knowledgeable of the subject matter at hand. We dig into the data, find trends and opportunities, crunch the numbers, and then effectively communicate the relevant information. Once the plan is in place, we work hand-in-hand (yes, we literally hold their hands sometimes) with our clients to get things done. The implementation can and does take many forms: helping to facilitate green teams and their projects, leading lighting retrofits, studying institutional-scale composting programs, overhauling a waste and recycling process, identifying ongoing energy conservation measures, and then tracking all of the progress.

Our culture is extremely important to the work we do. We love the work and it shows in how we approach it. We involve the entire team in decision-making, and we expect everyone to work hard but not too much.

Our culture guides our ship and ensures we are focused on our mission. To that end, we work hard to adhere to the following Verdis values:

Passion. We believe we have the power to transform business as usual and make our world ‘green by default’.

Integrity. We’re not going to greenwash, and we won’t let our clients either. Seriously, it’s not an option.

Balance. We recognize the interdependence of the world’s economic, ecological and social systems and believe every decision made should reflect consideration of all three systems.

Collaboration. We believe we’re not in this alone and rely on our friends, clients, business partners and colleagues to help us create a resilient future.

Innovation. We believe it’s no coincidence that the edge of ecosystems is exceptionally innovative, creative, resilient and dynamic. We’re not going over the edge, but we’ll hang out there for a spell; it’s a great place to be.

Continuous Improvement. We have a thirst for learning and are always searching for ways to do our work better.

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I’m really hoping this is not news for most of you, but I’m running to represent Subdistrict 5 on the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors in the upcoming general election. Running for office was not something I was ever planning to do, but life threw a few things at me, and I decided it was time to step up.

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Why am I running, you might ask? Three reasons.

First, I think I’m actually well suited for the Board. Given that I work in the energy industry on a daily basis, I have a really good level of knowledge that will be immediately advantageous for the Board. I also have a background in finance with an MBA so I’m also able to fully understand all the financial implications of OPPD’s activities.

Next, I would really like to see the Board be more open and transparent. It’s a public utility; we own it. And OPPD can do a much better job of sharing and soliciting information from its customer-owners.

Finally, the energy industry is changing very quickly right now. New technologies are popping up all the time. Wind and solar energy are not only getting more efficient, but they’re decreasing in cost. That pace of change is only going to continue. My hope is to help OPPD take advantage of all these changes. They’re coming whether they want them to or not. How can we pursue them as opportunities? What must we do to ensure we have a long future of clean and affordable energy?

You can learn more at craigmoody.org. Or call me anytime if you’d like to discuss further. I’m always more than happy to chat!

And, of course, I would greatly appreciate your vote!

#GetintheMoody

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We are beyond excited to announce that Kim Morrow will be joining our team on May 31, 2016! Originally from California, Kim has worked in the sustainability and climate fields in Nebraska for the past six years. She has experience in sustainability consulting, clean energy advocacy, faith-based climate advocacy, higher education, policy work and fundraising.

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Prior to joining us, she served as Executive Director of Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, a non-profit leading the faith community’s response to climate change. She also served as Climate Change Resource Specialist at the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, partnering with Dr. Don Wilhite to deliver a series of sector-based roundtable discussions on the implications of climate change to Nebraska. In July 2015, she was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” for her efforts on climate change with the faith community.

Kim is passionate about finding smart, compassionate, and community-based solutions to the environmental challenges of our time. She is thrilled to join the team and looks forward to making great things happen in Nebraska and beyond.

Kim currently lives in Lincoln, and we’re excited to report that she’ll eventually be spending roughly half of her time there – consider this a Verdis expansion into the Lincoln market!

Kim lives with her two kids. When she’s not trying to save the world, she enjoys roller skating, ice skating, biking, walking and jogging. She has recently started playing guitar, and has an unusual delight with her backyard composter.

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When you hire exceptional people, you should expect that they’ll be regularly presented with offers for other jobs. It’s something we expect to happen. The alternative – hiring a bunch of monkeys that nobody wants – may mean we don’t need to worry about employee poachers, but it also means we’re not going to perform at a high level.

So when Chris Stratman broke the news that he’ll be leaving the firm, I found myself immensely disappointed but also not surprised. On November 16, Chris will start as the new Executive Director of Keep Omaha Beautiful, a nonprofit organization dedicated to litter reduction, beautification, and education on recycling and solid waste issues. You know that disappointment I mentioned earlier? That quickly faded when I learned about Chris’ new job.

Keep Omaha Beautiful has been around since 1959, and one of its focus areas – waste reduction and recycling – is really important in Omaha, which has a historically poor recycling rate. We have several ideas for how to increase recycling in Omaha, but we’re not particularly well set up to independently move the needle. Chris’ expertise, strengths, focus, and results-focused approach will undoubtedly have a positive impact not only on the city’s recycling rate, but on the city’s overall success as well. He’s really well-suited to the job, and he’s going to knock it out of the park.

Chris has been with us since early 2010 and has played a major role in nearly every one of our projects. Most notably, he has been our project lead with UNMC and Nebraska Medicine for the last few years consistently providing great leadership to our project team and impeccable service to our friends at the Med Center.

We will miss Chris. I will miss Chris. I’ve spent the last five years sitting about four feet from him. He’s an exceptional human being and our success as a firm is due in large part to his dedication to our purpose.

As they say, change is the only constant. Mr. Stratman’s (he asked that I start calling him that now) last day is slated for October 23. We wish Chris nothing but the best, and I look forward to working with him in a new capacity to make Omaha a thriving, green city.

Onward and upward.

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Recycling is getting a lot of attention in Omaha these days. The Omaha World Herald ran an extensive story (Why is Nebraska Recycling in the Dumps?) in the Sunday, July 12 edition that summarized the challenges Omaha and Nebraska more broadly speaking have had with recycling. The key indicator is the recycling rate, which has hovered around 11% in Omaha since 2006, a figure that’s well below the national average (34%) and lagging that of the surrounding states.

Let’s not kid ourselves, managing waste streams is more difficult than most people imagine, even at the residential level. I just took my family’s trash and recycling to the curb tonight, and while doing so pondered all the different streams that leave our house in a given week (landfill, mixed recycling, glass, plastic bags, reuse items, my daughter’s to-go applesauce containers (I think she’s addicted), and compostable waste). Each one of them requires a separate staging area in our house and/or garage. It’s no wonder that I conduct a monthly educational campaign at home to ensure we’re all on the same page.

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Moody family outgoing trash and recycling. The volume in those two (yes, we have two…ssshh) green bins is more than what’s in the black trash container. I suspect if most Omahans had the opportunity and were properly educated, the same would hold true. The EPA estimates that 75% of residential trash is recyclable.

There are unquestionably advantages to recycling more, and the good news is that there are benefits that excite both fiscal conservatives and tree-hugging liberals alike. The financial savings alone are noteworthy; if Omaha improved to a mere 26% recycling rate (a very achievable figure), the city would be saving roughly $1 million per year. Certainly not chump change.

So how can Omaha improve its recycling rate? The Verdis Team spent an hour kicking around a few ideas, some of which are offered below. First, a caveat: we have not studied the situation (but would love to!). The recommendations below are based on 1) our materials management work with all of our clients, 2) our experiences as Omaha citizens, and 3) the knowledge and information we’ve gained through community involvement with efforts such as Environment Omaha. When we’re given the opportunity (the power of positive thought, right?) to really study the issue, we would most certainly refine and add to these recommendations. OK, with caveat in place, let’s get to it.

  1. Deploy larger bins with lids. Everyone acknowledges that this would have an immediate impact. Let’s make it happen. (See the July 13 OWH story for more details.) And, yes, the up-front cost ($6 million) is a bit much, but as the OWH reported on July 19, there are funding alternatives such as the Closed Loop Fund. The City should also consider the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality grant programs as sources of funding.
  1. Overhaul branding and communication. There are multiple layers to this one, so let’s bullet them out:
    • Develop a sophisticated brand around Omaha’s recycling program
    • Reboot the website
    • Develop a one-page summary that’s easy for residents to review, pass around, print and post at home
    • Offer several materials in other languages, especially Spanish (the recycling rate per capita was worst in Southeast Omaha)
    • Rename and redesign the Wasteline publication that’s mailed to residences regularly
    • Do NOT over-emphasize the 11% rate. Doing so conveys a subtle social norm that only 11% of waste can be recycled and/or only 11% of people do recycle. Rather, focus on the fact that the majority of Omahans support recycling.
    • Messaging also needs to tap into multiple motivating factors – catching everyone from liberals to conservatives
    • Ramp up the social media platform (Verdis has more “likes” on Facebook, and we generally stink at social media)
    • Invest in other awareness and media efforts such as billboards, radio, and so on
  1. Start delivering bins again. Assuming that we really do need to wait five years before the large bins with lids are deployed, the City should reinstitute the program where the current curbside bins would actually be delivered to households that request them, which was in place several years ago. (Today, citizens must go to one of six locations to pick one up.) Partnerships could be explored with neighborhood associations, schools, a nonprofit such as Keep Omaha Beautiful, and maybe even churches to facilitate the distribution process.
  1. Connecting with the binless. We kicked around a handful of ideas to engage those households that don’t have a bin today. Here are a few:
    • Employe and send SummerWorks Omaha employees door to door on trash/recycling day. Have them contact (leave flyers or little yard signs) at every residence that does not have a recycling container out. Heck, give them a truck full of bins so they can distribute as the come across households that want one.
    • Automatically provide bins to all of Omaha with an opt-out alternative. With proper notice and an effective opt-out alternative, this could work.
  1. Ramp up recycling in public spaces. The City needs to walk the talk and deploy recycling containers in public areas with a goal to achieve a 1:1 waste to recycling container ratio in the city.
  1. Make recycling mandatory. Yes, I know this is a stretch and not likely to happen, but it still would be one of the single most effective means by which to increase recycling rates. In essence, recyclables would be banned from going into the landfill.
  1. Explore pay as you throw. A strong motivator for recycling more is charging fees for trash (known as a pay-as-you-throw system). Yes, there’s some concern about it being a regressive tax, but those issues can be overcome with a more sophisticated system design.
  1. Launch a composting facility. If the ultimate goal is reduce landfill tipping fees, then diverting food waste to a large-scale composting facility will have a huge impact. This is extremely complicated, and there’s a team exploring options now, as we understand it. But the implementation of as much would make a huge difference, especially for commercial customers.
  1. Address the gap in services to apartments. Renters like to recycle too, maybe more than homeowners. It would be great to address this gap in some way.

Team Verdis had close to a dozen more ideas that I’ll leave on the shelf for now. Suffice it to say there are undoubtedly ways to improve recycling in Omaha, and we’re anxious to play a role in making that happen. Because, and let’s be honest here, it’s a little embarrassing that the city has hovered around 11% for ten years. Let’s right that ship, shall we?

Onward and upward.

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In early May, we announced our 2015 Small Business Sale to coincide with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce naming us the 2015 Small Business of the Year (did you know there are over 37,000 small businesses in Greater Omaha?!). Our hope was to return a little love back to all our fellow small businesses.

We’re taking this up (or down, actually, in price) a notch. The first small business to commit will get our suite of services for a mere $500, and the second small business in the door gets the entire package for $1200. Those are 94% and 85% off sales respectively. Kmart’s Bluelight Special doesn’t have anything on us.

This is a limited time offer. Act now.

Onward and upward!

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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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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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