Dec 5, 201310:26 AMPoint of View

Q&A: David Finkel, On How Davis & Warshow Is Going Green

Q&A: David Finkel, On How Davis & Warshow Is Going Green

A field of solar panels on the rooftop of the Davis & Warshow warehouse in Maspeth, Queens. When it was first powered on in 2011, it was the largest private solar array in the city.

Courtesy Davis & Warshow

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Each year, since 2008, Metropolis has been collaborating with the folks at Davis & Warshow, to bring news from Greenbuild to the New York City design community. These lively, informative, popular events focus on the most current topic top of mind at the USGBC, the conference and tradeshow organizers. This year there was a lot of talk in Philadelphia, where Greenbuild settled into the Pennsylvania Convention Center for three days in November, about health, wellness, and green building. I, along with a panel of LEED architects, will be expanding on these issues at the Public Health and Wellness event on Wednesday, December 11, to be held at the Davis & Warshow SOHO Flagship.

Each year, too, I learned about some new move that Davis & Warshow just initiated in their steady progress to "green" the company. Now, with a critical number of programs in place, I decided to ask David Finkel, the Ferguson Enterprises New York Metro business group manager for showrooms/builder sales, to give us a report on how they’re doing. Here he tells us what a small business can do to make our world better, cleaner, healthier.

Susan S. Szenasy: Back in 2008 you famously said: "There is no way to flip a switch and be carbon neutral over night. However, we know that when we combine all of the manageable things we will have meaningful impact." In the five years since you made that realistic, but hopeful statement, what have you identified as "manageable things" within a company like Davis & Warshow? Can you give a list of them starting with the very first thing you identified back then?

David Finkel: While Davis & Warshow had done some very forward-thinking things like installing motion detectors on lights in the warehouse, there were some obvious things we needed to work on. Handling our recycling better was one major area, but now the company has color-coded bins in all of our locations, with desk trash bins used for paper waste only. Not only have we improved recycling dramatically, we have eliminated sources of odor and pests. Then, we made the simple decision that all paper used at Davis & Warshow would be 100% recycled whenever possible and extended that to our letterhead, business cards, and other materials.

Our next target was fuel consumption. If you peeked out the office window into the parking lot, there were SUVs as far as the eye could see. So we implemented a 20MPG City minimum fuel requirement so that anyone with a company fuel subsidy whose vehicle did not meet the standard would have to pay a proportionate share of his or her fuel bill. For example, if an employee’s vehicle rated 18MPG City, they were only allowed to expense 90% of their fuel cost. While there was some grumbling, people quickly came to appreciate driving a more efficient vehicle, and our fuel bills dropped by more than 40%! We also held a raffle in which employees earned entries by taking mass transit or carpooling. Prizes in quarterly and annual drawings for these raffles included iPods, televisions, and cash prizes.

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