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(March 2010) posted on Mon Mar 15, 2010

Five shops report that ‘going green’ continues to have both challenges and rewards.

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By J.P. Pieratt

The company put together a “green team,” including members of different departments, Perez says. “It started as a wide-open palette; a lot of brainstorming; and this is when HR brought in the social aspect of our sustainability approach, and finance did the same thing.”

Says Perez, “A happy employee is a productive employee. It’s about the growth of our employees, the happiness of your employees. When your employees are doing well in their lives, you usually have a happy worker, and happy workers are more productive.”
And employee health is an area as well. Point Imaging guides employees in health and fitness programs. This, in turn, reduces sick days, decreases downtime, lowers health insurance costs, and increases productivity—all of which add to the sustainability of the company, Perez says.

Modernistic—which offers digital, screenprinting, and rotary print services plus large-format die cutting—has instituted company-wide recycling programs and promotes the use of eco-friendly production materials. It also has especially focused on energy conservation. In a 108-square foot section of its production facility, for instance, Modernistic recently replaced 270 high-intensity discharge (HID) light fixtures with 255 high-intensity fluorescent (HIF) fixtures. With the lighting change, Modernistic expects to cut its light-related electricity costs by 64 percent, from an annual $58,715 to about $21,000 (or, from a kilowatt-per-hour perspective, from an annual 715,635 kWh to 283,255 kWh). The environmental impact of the change, according to Modernistic, is the air-scrubbing equivalent of a 79-acre forest or that of removing 70 cars from use, adding it’s also the equivalent of saving 35,693 gallons of gas a year.

An unintended result was, well, illuminating: “We were so used to working in dimmer conditions,” says Tom LaPlante, Modernistic’s maintenance manager. “We actually increased our light level by a couple hundred percent.” In turn, says the company, the brighter lights allow its production personnel to better detect any in-process color shifts, increasing its output quality.