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Farm to office: Tips for starting a workplace CSA

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Spinach, strawberries and sprouts freshly picked from the field and dropped off at your desk—this isn’t just for Earth Day. That service is actually a reality at our headquarter UMB offices.

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. The CSA model connects local farmers directly to consumers.  Through a CSA, consumers can purchase a “share” of local, seasonal products directly from the farmer. Shares are generally delivered on a weekly basis and can vary in size and cost. A workplace CSA can be a great addition to your organization’s wellness or sustainability programs.
CSA summer share

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Benefits of a CSA and buying local

  • Natural: Most CSA farmers grow their crops without pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so the food tastes like it came from your backyard garden. According to a PBS Independent Lens documentary‡, 95 percent of CSA farms use organic or biodynamic farming‡.
  • Fresh: In addition the food travels a shorter distance to get to you. Produce can be picked when it is ripe instead of being picked too soon which happens if it has to travel across the country. Some foods travel thousands of miles to get to our grocery stores. The shorter distance it travels means less fuel and emissions and time it takes — making it better for the environment.
  • Local support: Buying local supports our community, our friends and neighbors. Family farmers are people that work hard to bring us fresh and healthy food.

How to get started

Since 2010 UMB has offered its downtown Kansas City associates the option of having farm fresh products delivered to the office. Through the years we have used a few different CSA farmers, and here are the lessons we learned:

  • Determine interest: You can send out a short online survey (an online search will give you free options for simple survey tools) to test interest or you could even host a one day onsite farmers market to see how much interest it generates. UMB hosted a farmers’ market for Earth Day, and its popularity was a deciding factor for us to offer a CSA program.
  • Choose a dedicated CSA coordinator to work with the farmer and your employees. This could be someone in HR or a volunteer from your green team or wellness team. Make sure this is someone you can rely on and that they know they will have to dedicate some time and effort to supporting and promoting the program during the CSA season.

How to choose a CSA provider

  • Interview a few farmers to find the right fit. You can find a list of farmers who offer CSAs through one of these websites Kansas City Food Circle or Local Harvest. Many CSA farmers use organic farming methods but may not have the financial means for certifications. Each farm is different, so verify farming practices when interviewing a potential farmer. Other things to keep in mind when looking for a workplace CSA farmer:
    • Flexibility in share sizes, product offering – many CSAs offer meat, dairy, canned and baked goods in addition to produce, allergy sensitivities like gluten free and vegan options. Be aware that the more customized your CSA program the more complex it can get for you and the farm to coordinate.
    • The farmer’s experience in providing workplace CSAs– Ask for a reference from a current company they are servicing.
    • What the minimum/maximum number of shares the farmer can deliver to your workplace.
    • How they will handle issues that arrive such as forgotten shares or replacement of spoiled products.
    • Delivery logistics:
      • Day of the week, time and place of delivery
      • How will shares be distributed? — interoffice mail delivery, employee pick up at set time and location, etc.
      • How will the share be packaged?
    • Forms of payment – payroll deduction, online payment, etc.
    • Ask to see a real life sample of what is in a share.Providence Farms - CSA

At UMB we have partnered with Gerry and Lisa Newman of Providence Farms, a small family-owned and operated farm in Trenton, Mo.  The Newman’s use organic farming methods—never using pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers or GMO seeds. We get to choose from two share sizes which include produce, meat from Barham Cattle Company and Family Farm, and a rotation of eggs, baked goods, butter and more.  The CSA season runs from June to October.

Lisa Newman of Providence Farm says,“We love fruits & veggies, and we love to share!  We are very passionate about growing our food without the use of harmful chemicals. When companies allow us to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis to employees, they are opening up the possibilities of people eating produce they might not have ever tried.

We live in a society where we want everything fast; fast food, boxed foods, frozen foods and microwaved food. We are providing a service where employees don’t have to take extra time to do shopping and can take their CSA home and prepare fresh food that is only hours old!”

The net result of a CSA is the food is healthier for us and better for the environment.

Have you participated in a CSA or plan to start one soon?

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Shahane is a Vice President Healthcare Marketing/Sustainability Manager for UMB. She is responsible for managing marketing initiatives for UMB’s healthcare payments, HSAs, and benefit card products. In addition, she leads the UMB Green Team and promotes UMB’s internal sustainability initiatives. She joined UMB in 2001 and has 13 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a MA in Marketing from Webster University. She is a volunteer for Bridging the Gap and serves on the board for Northeast Neighbor to Neighbor.



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The Overlooked Cleaner Energy Source for Home and Office: Ground Source Heat Pumps

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Everyone has heard the energy saving benefits of solar and wind power but did you know ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) can save you up to 45 percent on your energy consumption compared to conventional HVAC systems. How do we know this? Experience.  In 2004, UMB installed a vertical ground source heat pump system consisting of 12 wells at our branch location in Grandview, Mo. According to Roy Allen, who is part of the UMB maintenance team, the Grandview location saves approximately 21,000 kWh per month over similar sized banking center locations. With such great savings on energy UMB has decided to install a second system at another banking center as well. Construction for this new center should begin in February 2016.

energy

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In addition to saving energy and money GSHPs are good for the environment since they are a cleaner source of energy using mostly ambient heat from the ground while using very little electricity.

How Ground Source Heat Pumps Work
So how do these systems provide cleaner energy and help you save on your utility bills? Air temperature can fluctuate greatly with the seasons and even daily, with daytime highs and night time lows, but surprisingly ground temperature remains relatively constant. Conventional air-source HVAC systems attempt to capture heat from frigid winter air as well as disburse heat into the baking hot summer air – which is no easy task.  However ground source heat pumps work by capturing the neutral heat absorbed at the surface of the Earth, it then heats the air in the winter and then extracts the heat from inside air in the summer. This is done through a water solution that flows through pipes (wells) buried in the ground that circulates the heated water to the home/office in the winter and then it is reversed in the summer whereby the heat is extracted from the air and transfers it via water through the pipes removing the heat from the building and transferring it to the ground.

Types of Systems
There are four basic types of GSHPs including horizontal, vertical, pond/lake which are all closed loop systems. The fourth type is the open loop system. The option you choose is dependent on the climate, soil conditions and the available land. UMB banking centers utilize the vertical option. This option is used when soil is too shallow for trenching, it also does not require a lot of space. Roy explained the system only takes up a 70 ft. x 100 ft. space and contains 12 wells at a depth 500 ft. It is located under the drive through teller lanes. He said both the current and new systems, designed by Lankford Fendler and Associates, have life time warranties on the wells. Another benefit of the system is that it is very low maintenance.

So the next time you are looking for a cleaner energy source for your new home or office you may want to consider ground source heat pumps.

Sources:
http://energy.gov/energysaver/geothermal-heat-pumps
http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/17/10-myths-about-geothermal-heating-and-cooling/

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Ms. Shahane is a Vice President Healthcare Marketing/Sustainability Manager for UMB. She is responsible for managing marketing initiatives for UMB’s healthcare payments, HSAs, and benefit card products. In addition, she leads the UMB Green Team and promotes UMB’s internal sustainability initiatives. She joined UMB in 2001 and has 13 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a MA in Marketing from Webster University. She is a volunteer for Bridging the Gap and serves on the board for Northeast Neighbor to Neighbor.



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When green is more than the color of money

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08-21

Green. It’s the color of money and probably the most common color associated with banks. But what if we associated green with a bank because it supports sustainability, providing its customers and associates with an eco-friendly environment? What if green was a way of doing business rather than just the color of our currency?

Since 2007, “being green” has become a fundamental philosophy at UMB. And while doing the right thing is the main reason behind our green initiatives, we also save money and increase efficiencies by investing in this area. It’s a philosophy every company can participate in because there are so many different sustainability programs you can put into practice in your organization. We often encourage our clients to embrace as many green business practices as they can.

If your company is interested in “going green” or increasing your sustainability efforts, here are a few tips:

  • Consider installing solar panels. In case you missed last month’s post, read more about solar energy here: UMB Goes Solar.
  • Make a commitment to green building, including any new offices or locations your company builds. This can include everything from design to construction, and even the products used to construct the building. Once construction is complete, you can apply for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification, along with other sustainable building distinctions.
  • Set up a waste reduction and recycling program, including batteries, cell phones, ink cartridges and paper. Depending on your business and locations, you can make this available to both associates and clients.
  • Provide eco-friendly services to your clients, such as online billing or e-statements
  • Organize associate volunteer groups to work at local green organizations, such as Adopt-a-Highway.
  • Join a community-sponsored agriculture program where local fresh fruit, produce, dairy and bread are delivered to your office weekly.
  • Facilitate a bike to work week or other eco-friendly commute programs.
  • Plan a “Wear Your Jeans for Green Day” where associates can donate a certain dollar amount to a non-profit that supports sustainability in exchange for the chance wearing jeans to work.
  • Engage your associates with green themed events, contests and educational programs such as lunch and learns.
  • Create a “Green Team” in your company that is responsible for leading the charge on all internal and external sustainability activities.

With so many options, your company can start by implementing one or two of the smaller programs. Eventually you can work your way up to the more large-scale initiatives. Learn more about corporate sustainability ideas at GreenBiz.com. We also encourage you to come up with your own ideas that are specific to your company or industry. Be creative!

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Shahane is a Vice President Healthcare Marketing/Sustainability Manager for UMB. She is responsible for managing marketing initiatives for UMB’s healthcare payments, HSAs, and benefit card products. In addition, she leads the UMB Green Team and promotes UMB’s internal sustainability initiatives. She joined UMB in 2001 and has 13 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a MA in Marketing from Webster University. She is a volunteer for Bridging the Gap and serves on the board for Northeast Neighbor to Neighbor.



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UMB Goes Solar

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As we guide our community members in their financial decisions, we also want to be part of making those communities great places to live.

Our business partners know that any organization with available capital has choices to make about where to invest. We’re excited to announce that we recently made the decision to invest in solar-energy systems to help power five of our locations.

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We’re committed to fostering conservation in our communities. As a clean and abundant type of renewable energy, these solar installations help preserve natural resources, curb carbon emissions and present opportunities for cost savings.

We believe this to be a sound investment in our business, our buildings and our communities and recommend it to all of you.

How does going solar work?

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UMB partnered with Brightergy, an energy company whose headquarters are also in Kansas City, just blocks away from ours. Brightergy works with their clients (primarily businesses, schools, cities and not-for-profits) to help them gain control of their energy through on-site energy generation, energy efficiency and smarter energy management.

Our five new solar-energy installations are a form of on-site energy generation—located on rooftops of three locations in Kansas City and two in St. Louis, creating energy for us right where we use it.

And now to dive in to the nerdy details…A multitude of solar panels absorb daily solar radiation, exciting electrons in the panels which creates direct current (DC) electricity. That current flows to inverters which convert the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, the kind we use to power our buildings every day.

Our solar electricity is available to us to use as soon as it is created. If we are ever creating more electricity than we are using at the moment, the excess electricity flows into the electrical grid and we earn credits on our utility bills for the electricity we provided.

For example, let’s look at the most recent holiday, Independence Day. It was warm and sunny. Even though our locations were closed, our solar-energy systems were working even as we were not. Since we created more electricity than our buildings had a demand for that day, that electricity flowed into the grid and was then distributed and used.

What are the benefits of going solar?

The sun is predictable—rising and setting every day. And in Missouri, we see the same amount of sun (an average of 4.7 hours a day) as they do in Tampa, Florida or the South of France.

Our five solar-energy systems are estimated to produce 170,000 kWh a year (solar panels have warrantees by the manufacturer for 25 years, and their expected lifetime is even longer). If you think about how much electricity you use at home, this amount is enough to provide 16 average-sized homes with electricity each year.*

After the cost of the equipment and installation, solar energy is essentially free fuel. So by creating a portion of our own electricity needs, the cost savings benefit for all five systems comes out to be approximately $22,000 in our first year of producing solar energy. Our total savings estimate increases to $610,335 for all five systems throughout the next 25 years.

We also expect to offset up to 250,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.* What does that mean? Traditional, carbon-intensive fossil fuel sources put out pollutants, or emissions, like carbon dioxide as they are burned to create usable energy.

We know that trees consume carbon dioxide (CO2) as they create food for themselves through photosynthesis, cleaning our air in the process. Approximately 250,000 pounds of CO2 is equivalent to the amount absorbed by nearly 100 acres of U.S. forest each year.

A community of solar businesses

As we get ready to ‘flip the switch’ on our systems and begin producing solar electricity, we join the growing number of businesses, including Costco, Apple, Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, and Ikea, who recognize that solar lowers operating costs and benefits both the bottom line and our communities.

Next month, we’ll explore even more ways to go green.

 

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*Source: http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html#results

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Shahane is a Vice President Healthcare Marketing/Sustainability Manager for UMB. She is responsible for managing marketing initiatives for UMB’s healthcare payments, HSAs, and benefit card products. In addition, she leads the UMB Green Team and promotes UMB’s internal sustainability initiatives. She joined UMB in 2001 and has 13 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a MA in Marketing from Webster University. She is a volunteer for Bridging the Gap and serves on the board for Northeast Neighbor to Neighbor.



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