Congratulations to our recent Challenge Award winner, the Houston Green Team's Zero Waste FastStart Program

03 April 2017
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Walter P Moore congratulates this year’s 1st quarter Challenge Award winner! Begun in 2015, the Challenge Awards were established internally and are held quarterly to recognize teams and/or individuals for outstanding performance in demonstrating some or all of the 5 Coordinates that define our Driven by the Challenge culture.

The 5 Coordinates
PEP Passion / Expertise / Performance
TIK Teamwork Integrates Knowledge
INO Innovation Not Optional
ECX Extraordinary Client Experience
HIP Stewardship

We had three winners this go-around, but due to confidentiality, we are only able to share one of them with you.

Zero Waste FastStart™ Program  //  Corporate + Houston Green Team
Winning Team  //  Laura Ramirez //  Erin Kueht  //  Dirk Kestner
Heather Guillen 

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 WPM’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 WPM’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 WPM 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 WPM 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 deter from the attendee’s learning environment. Laura Ramirez engaged the Houston Green Team led by Joe Fong and 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. However, our outreach was also an opportunity to highlight our internal actions to a group of our most sustainability focused clients.

There were many challenges to overcome while planning for this type of ground breaking event including how to engage the participants, how to test practices that could be used in future trainings and how to compost locally on such a small scale. Some of these ideas ended up being a large 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.

About the Awards
Submissions are open to all business units and corporate groups within Walter P Moore, with up to four teams/individuals awarded each quarter. Each award has both a cash and a charity component, with the charity being chosen by the winning team. To date, charity organizations have included United WayEngineers Without BordersHabitat for Humanity, local food banks, and local ACE Mentoring programs. However, each group is allowed to choose their own charity organization recipient.

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