Zero-Waste FastStart™ Program

Group

Green Team (Internal)

Winning Team

Laura Ramirez (Houston)
Ted Carter (Houston)
Erin Kueht (Houston)
Dirk Kestner (Austin)
Heather Guillen (Houston)
Christina Hughes (Houston)

Zero-Waste FastStart™ Program

Houston
Texas

FastStart is a three-day seminar for new structural engineering hires to introduce them to Walter P Moore’s corporate culture, design practices, and community leaders. It is held as needed each year in Houston for new hires from all over the company to gather and socialize while learning from top leaders in the firm about basic structural engineering practices and Walter P Moore standards.

While planning for the summer 2016 FastStart, the organization committee decided to minimize the environmental impact of the three-day training and showcase Walter P Moore's commitment to stewardship and sustainability among the company’s newest hires. The team approached Laura Ramirez, the executive assistant in charge of coordination and logistics for the training, who brought her ‘can do’ attitude and enthusiastically embraced the idea of using the training as a platform to demonstrate Walter P Moore's commitment to greening the office place. She was also excited about the opportunity for this training to be a trial run for minimizing the environmental impact of future Walter P Moore trainings. With Laura on board, the team decided to go big at home and attempt the first-ever Walter P Moore “Zero-Waste” event.

As this was by far the largest stride Walter P Moore had ever taken in attempting to minimize waste at trainings, there was a steep learning curve and significant research required to ensure that our sustainable choices would not detract from the attendee’s learning environment. Laura Ramirez engaged the Houston Green Team led by our corporate sustainability leader, Dirk Kestner, to gather ideas about what practices would create the most impact without sacrificing the overall goals of the training.

Erin Kueht, a Houston Green Team member, reached out to clients with high sustainability goals — such as Gensler, Kirksey, and the City of Houston — to see if they had attempted an event like this. Surprisingly, our clients had not attempted something as ambitious as our goal. It seemed like Walter P Moore was leading the charge for implementing green training in the workplace.

There were many challenges to overcome while planning for this type of groundbreaking event, including how to engage the participants, how to test practices that could be used in future training, and how to compost locally on such a small scale. Some of these ideas ended up being a huge success, others showed areas for future improvement, and one proved to be impractical to implement in the local environment. After the training was complete, Houston Green Team leaders sat down with Laura to see which ideas could be easily integrated into future trainings and which would need to be adjusted or phased in. This allowed the Zero-Waste FastStart to serve as a catalyst for how we run future trainings rather than being a one-time event.