As Kermit the Frog says, "It's not easy being green." But Highmark Blue Shield recognizes the impact of our business decisions on the environment and the community, and has created and is in the process of implementing sustainable, eco-friendly and green (SEG) business practices.
SEG projects at Highmark include a variety of facility management, community and business projects that will help to create a healthier work environment for employees and for the communities where Highmark does business.
In June 2007, the company created a full-time sustainability coordinator position. By creating a new department, Environmental Management, Highmark has pledged to promote and apply sustainable SEG business solutions to improve employee wellness, reduce operating expenses, and workplace productivity.
"By educating employees about what they personally can do to help the environment at the office and at home, we can equip them with the tools to make informed decisions, leading to better personal and community health and economic benefits," said Phyllis Barber, sustainability coordinator at Highmark.
SEG initiatives at Camp Hill facility
Highmark uses a comprehensive program that strives to improve process, reduce costs and waste, and increase or exceed customer expectations.
Highmark is currently undergoing multi-year renovations to its 612,000-square-foot Center Street campus in Camp Hill. The renovations are being designed and built in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program standards. The program recognizes buildings that go above and beyond in eco-friendly features, such as using, promoting recycling, and conservation of water and energy. The renovations include environmentally friendly finishes and carpets, energy-efficient HVAC systems and indirect lighting, and motion detectors for lighting and increased day lighting.
Replacement and upgrading of air conditioning systems with new, more efficient equipment has produced a 20 percent reduction in electric consumption and an average savings of $11,000 per month, and a reduction in water consumption of more than 1.5 million gallons of water per year. The company has also replaced old restroom toilets that used five gallons of water per flush with new ones that use only 1.6 gallons of water.
Demolition materials are being handled in an environmentally friendly way by separating material types, such as metals and plastics to be recycled. In addition, the landscaping is being renovated to include native plantings, and the sidewalks are made with pavers that feature crushed recycled bottles.
Additional SEG projects at Highmark Blue Shield
- Highmark provides its members with the option of receiving EOBs and member newsletters through online e-delivery. This technology allows members to view their EOBs online and receive newsletters electronically, therefore saving the resources of paper and postage. For members who opt to receive EOBs through the mail, Highmark prints content on both sides of paper to reduce overall resources used.
- Highmark operates a Silver LEED certified Data Center in Hershey, Pa. The Data Center, which provides computing infrastructure for the company, opened in November 2005 and was built using environmentally friendly attributes. These features include storm water management, erosion and sedimentation control, optimized energy performance, water recycling and more.
- Approximately 85,000 pounds of paper and 7,000 pounds of cardboard are recycled each month in its Camp Hill facilities. Highmark's recycling efforts help East Pennsboro Township meet their recycling goals and obtain grant money.
- Highmark uses environmentally friendly, green cleaning products at its facilities at its Data Center in and at its Center Street campus. These products include Green Seal certified cleaners, vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters to improve indoor air quality and Green Seal certified paper products for restrooms.
- Highmark, through its partner Parkhurst Dining Services, is making dining facilities in Camp Hill more sustainable and eco-friendly. Current Parkhurst initiatives include napkins made from recycled paper; a FarmSource program that purchases goods from local farms; and the collection of used fryer oil to be converted to bio-diesel.
Next steps for Highmark Blue Shield include additional renovations throughout its Center Street facility and outside landscaping changes which include planting native and drought resistant plants and trees. The company is also developing metrics to benchmark major resources, such as the use of paper, water and electricity, and then target ways to conserve those resources.
For more information about Highmark's SEG initiative, please visit the Newsroom on http://www.highmark.com and read the Sustainable, Eco-Friendly, and Green press kit.