Group14 Engineering: Decreasing greenhouse emissions one building at a time

The firm is a JUST labelled, certified B Corp, women-owned business

Image courtesy of Group14

This interview is part of an ongoing series with ColoradoBiz Magazine to learn from Best for Colorado companies about the impact they have in our state.

Group14 Engineering, public-benefit corporation (PBC), is a sustainability and energy efficiency consulting firm headquartered in Denver with a mission to inspire better buildings where people thrive.

The company’s name, Group14, symbolizes the carbon group on the periodic table  ̶  a fitting choice for a company that works to reduce carbon emissions via building efficiency. The team is also heavily involved in the city’s climate adaptation policies including Denver’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan.

We interviewed Group14 Sustainable Design Consultants, Rachelle Macur and Lauren McNeill, to learn more about the company’s impact.

Best for Colorado: Can you give a quick elevator speech about your company? What differentiates you in the marketplace?

We are a consulting firm focused on enhancing the sustainability of our built environment. Specifically, we focus on energy and water efficiency, smart land management, healthy materials, equitable design, operations, responsible citizenship and more. We are JUST labelled, a certified B Corp, women-owned and we work out of a LEED Platinum and Arc certified building.

B4C: Can you define the specific programs, practices and/or priorities that fall within your organization’s corporate social responsibility? How has this evolved or improved over time?

For us, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not just an afterthought or side consideration. It’s engrained into every level of our operations and the delivery of our services. We started aligning our greenhouse gas emissions reporting with science-based targets as well as the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

We consider the environmental impact of all our projects. We converse with our clients on how we can align their strategic goals not only lessen their social and environmental impact but also be beneficial and regenerative.

On the internal level, we have a committee called PB&J which stands for Public Benefit Corporation, B Corp and JUST. People throughout our office at all different seniority levels participate and contribute ideas to push our CSR efforts further.

B4C: As a business, how is Group14 involved in city and community efforts to fight climate change?

Individually, our employees get sixteen hours of paid volunteer time, and they can use this to support any organizations they like. Many of them choose to participate in marches, volunteer for environmental organizations and take part in advocacy. On a more official level Group14 provided technical support for Denver’s Green Building Ordinance, is on the task force for Energize Denver and is the Technical Advisor for Denver’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan.

B4C: Do you think that compliance and regulation can help tackle challenges of climate change?

If we want to meet the climate goals and stay within the two-degree range, we need to have regulation and policy as part of those conversations. Organizations are taking a stance because they know it’s the right thing to do, yet, to really meet our goals we need to have policies as part of those efforts.

B4C: What areas are your most concentrated on right now and why?

In our industry and society in general we are beginning to focus on resilient design and climate adaptation. We want to ensure our client’s projects are being built for the next 50 plus years and are flexible and adaptive to the world as it will be. It is essential that our client’s mission can be met even as they face potential environmental hazards.

We are also looking beyond buildings and exploring how organizations are managed. We are helping our clients to translate how their external social and environmental impacts can be addressed through their organization’s culture and decision-making process. This has direct connection to the long-term success of their organization.

B4C: What was your proudest achievement or a specific challenge you faced? How did you overcome it?

Achieving B Corp’s Best for the World standing in the categories of overall, governance and environment was a great achievement. We are a fairly small company, but we had this goal to be a B Corp and to be Best for the World, so this accomplishment was a big reward.

B4C: How has the Best for Colorado program aided your CSR efforts?

It is just another way for us to show our commitment on a local level. Best for Colorado has a lot of networking opportunities where we can meet like-minded businesses and feel like we are part of the community pushing this movement forward. We businesses can rely on each other and go after our goals together. We also appreciate the accessibility of Best for Colorado because many of the CSR programs can be overwhelming in the beginning, such as GRI or B Corp. Best for Colorado has some great first steps for businesses to take in order to start their sustainability journey.

Best for Colorado is a program of the Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support.

Categories: Company Perspectives