Sustainability at NRDC
NRDC's Workplace Strategy team reflects our mission through green building leadership and sustainable operations.
NRDC’s mission is to safeguard the earth. The Workplace Strategy team exemplifies that mission through green building leadership and sustainable operations. The team’s work—from ensuring workplace function to vetting each architectural detail—supports ecological, human, and economic health and vitality, and ultimately reflects and serves the greater mission of NRDC.
NRDC is committed to leading the green building industry through action.
We consider social, environmental, and economic impacts to guide our decision making as we manage the daily operation of our offices and oversee capital projects. Our work provides a space where NRDC’s staff take on the important responsibility of tackling today’s most urgent issues.
Walking the Talk
In all of our offices, we strive to reduce resource consumption and increase resource production. Since 2012, we have achieved:
Increase in renewable energy portion
Decrease in water consumption
Decrease in oil consumption
Decrease in carbon emissions
Decrease in waste to landfill
Decrease in energy consumption
By prioritizing the planet and people, we foster a collaborative and inclusive workplace, inspiring our community to strive for a sustainable future.
Sustainability is at the core of all our capital projects and operations. We use a sustainability framework that examines environmental, social, and economic impact to guide decision making and measure success. We do this by establishing best practices for procurement, design and construction, waste management, and leveraging leading standards for building design and waste management.
Net Positive Principles
Internally, we work to minimize and neutralize adverse environmental and social impacts while seeking rejuvenating solutions we can apply operationally. For example, all our offices are designed with nontoxic, low-waste products to decrease our environmental footprint while increasing occupant health and well-being. Externally, we aim to share best practices and create positive impacts within communities and global markets. We are transparent with our operations—open-sourcing our guidelines, standards, and performance allows other organizations to learn from our strategies and scale sustainable solutions.
Strategic Office Management
We strive to maintain healthy and productive working environments that meet rigorous green building standards. We execute projects—like installing automatic dimming lighting systems, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and comprehensive waste stations—that continually drive our desired outcomes:
- Eliminate greenhouse gas emissions
- Increase water efficiency
- Achieve zero waste
- Design for healthy buildings and people
- Increase education and engagement
For nearly 40 years, NRDC has been leading the charge on green building adoption, successfully moving the industry forward.
Across our global operations, NRDC leverages widely respected sustainable building standards to ensure we are at the cutting edge of resource efficiency and waste diversion strategies. These standards drive progress across NRDC’s seven offices, cumulatively comprising more than 140,000 square feet.
The San Francisco office became Living Building Challenge Petal Certified in 2016 and achieved LEED Platinum certification in 2022.
The building itself reached LEED Platinum in 2021.
The Beijing office became Living Building Challenge Petal Certified and achieved LEED Gold certification in 2014. It also received RESET Materials & Air Project Certification in 2019.
The Santa Monica, California, office reached operational zero waste in 2018. (NRDC defines zero waste as diverting 90 percent of the office’s waste from landfills and incineration.)
The New York office reduced its heating consumption by 27 percent and switched to biodiesel (virtually carbon-neutral recycled cooking oil).
In 2011, the Washington, D.C., office achieved LEED Platinum Certification with enough points to place it in the top 10th percentile of all certified projects.
The Bozeman, Montana, office has diverted 72 percent of our waste from the landfill due to recycling and vermicomposting as of 2019.
NRDC has a long history of leading the industry with environmentally conscious operations.
NRDC is founded by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement.
Preceding the existence of any green building certification, the New York headquarters is built with principles that parallel Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) today.
The Santa Monica, California, office becomes one of the first and highest-rated LEED Platinum–certified projects (LEED for New Construction v2).
The San Francisco office achieves LEED Gold (LEED ID+C Commercial Interiors v1).
NRDC begins purchasing carbon allowances.
The 8th floor of the New York headquarters achieves the highest-rated LEED Platinum certification to date (51 of 59 points) under LEED for Commercial Interiors v2009.
The Washington, D.C., office achieves LEED Platinum certification (ID+C Commercial Interiors v2009) in the top 10th percentile.
The Beijing office achieves LEED Gold certification (ID+C Commercial Interiors v2009).
The Chicago office achieves Living Building Challenge v2.1 Petal Certification and LEED Platinum certification (Commercial Interiors v2009).
Heating oil in New York is switched to biodiesel.
The renovated Beijing office achieves LEED Gold certification (Commercial Interiors v2009) and Living Building Challenge v2.1 Petal Certification, the first LBC project in China.
The New York office’s air barrier is sealed to close the equivalent of a 10-foot hole in the building envelope.
New York starts purchasing off-site renewable electricity through an energy service company (ESCO) called Ethical Electric, effectively making the office net zero energy.
The expansion of the Chicago and San Francisco offices achieves both Living Building Challenge v3.1 Petal Certification and LEED Gold certification (Commercial Interiors v4).
The Santa Monica office reaches operational zero waste. NRDC defines zero waste as diverting 90 percent of the offices waste from incineration and landfills.
Protocols that guide design, construction, and internal operations of NRDC spaces are formalized, including design and construction protocols, furniture specification guidelines, a procurement policy, and a waste management plan.
Region-specific water targets are established for each office.
NRDC aligns with organizations that share our mission to protect and restore our natural environment—from the design teams working on our construction projects to the vendors that provide our office services and supplies. We work side-by-side with our partners and are committed to transparency to help others reduce their environmental impact.
1988 - U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
USGBC developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system with assistance from NRDC. NRDC office space in New York, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Chicago, Beijing, and Washington, D.C., are all LEED-certified.
2013 - BuildingOS
Real-time energy and water software monitoring in the New York, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Chicago, Beijing, and Washington, D.C., offices.
2014 - Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF)
NRDC purchases water restoration certificates from BEF to offset facilities’ water usage.
2016 - International Living Future Institute (ILFI)
ILFI created the Living Building Challenge, an international sustainable building certification program. NRDC offices in San Francisco and Chicago have achieved this certification.
2018 - TerraCycle
TerraCycle boxes provide a recycling option for items not typically accepted by municipal recycling and are available in all NRDC offices.
2018 - American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY)
NRDC was recognized as a participant of the AIA’s Zero Waste Challenge event, which helps reduce office waste generation and increase recycling.
2018 - Institute for Market Transformation (IMT)
IMT recognized NRDC as a Green Lease Leader for the organization’s forward-thinking and high-performance real estate portfolio.
2018 - World Green Building Council (WGBC)
NRDC has made the WGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, which challenges the organization to reach net zero operating emissions by 2030 and to advocate for all buildings to be net zero operations by 2050.
2018 - Agendi
Agendi has verified NRDC’s annual carbon footprint and facilitated the organization’s carbon offset purchases in order to receive CO2-Neutral certification.
2018 - Red2Green
NRDC utilizes and provides additions to Red2Green’s software platform and comprehensive product library helping to ensure all spaces, including NRDC’s own, contain environmentally friendly, nontoxic building products.
2019 - The Green Seal
The Green Seal Green Office Partnership Program is designed to guide offices to become more sustainable. NRDC has utilized this partnership to increase the use of products that contain no harmful ingredients and are responsibly sourced.