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Goodwill stores, other locations earn Class-G rating for sustainability efforts

| Thursday, April 18, 2013, 12:03 a.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
The Goodwill Employment Training Center in Lawrenceville on Monday April 15, 2013.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Cierra Bey, an e-waste processer, shrink wraps donated older model recycled televisions at the Goodwill Employment Training Center in Lawrenceville on Monday April 15, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Susie Fristick of Steubenville, OH shops at the Robinson Goodwill on Monday, April 15, 2013.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Terry Dziamniski, 52, of Moon Township shops at the Robinson Goodwill on Monday, April 15, 2013.

Goodwill's corporate colors are blue and white, but the nonprofit agency can include green in its color palette.

Each of Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania's 43 stores and other locations received a Class-G rating from Pittsburgh-based Class-G.org for using sustainable and environmentally safe practices when updating the buildings.

Darin Postlewait, Goodwill's facilities director, said the organization worked for a year on ways to provide clean air, reduce waste and better use resources.

“It makes us more aware, and we're giving back to the environment by trying to be more sustainable,” Postlewait said. “It's our way of giving back and moving forward, seeing as our green initiative goes along with Goodwill's renewal theme.”

Class-G.org spokesman Dan Giovannitti said the company, founded by businessmen Joe Blattner and James Scalo ,provides companies with an online form that allows them to assess their level of sustainability.

“This is a self-certification program, so we provide companies with a list of the 100 best practices, which they use to evaluate their operations,” Giovannitti said. Clients “not only use it for evaluations but as a strategic tool to plan ongoing improvements,” he said.

Goodwill's Class-G rating across 43 locations is a remarkable feat, Giovannitti said.

“They are the only nonprofit we serve who has been willing to embrace sustainability,” he said. “They're not only using it in all their locations, they're also preparing and developing plans for continuous improvements.”

Class-G typically charges $700 per building for its plan but negotiated a rate with Goodwill, Giovannitti said. He did not specify how much Goodwill paid for the plan.

Each of Goodwill's buildings displays a Class-G rating plaque with quick response code, a type of barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone to give specifics about the building's sustainability features, said Robert Stape, vice president of retail at Goodwill.

“Class-G ratings give us an outside way to gauge how we're doing by looking at our carbon footprint,” Stape said. “We're using this internally as a way to show being green is important, and as an awareness campaign.”

Postlewait said he hopes Goodwill's efforts to become environmentally friendly and sustainable make an impression on its employees' lives.

“Once our employees get used to it, they can buy into it and hopefully take it back to their individual homes,” Postlewait said.

The program focuses on simple, common-sense ways to promote a healthy, energy-efficient and sustainable lifestyle, such as remembering to turn off lights, using sensors to regulate indoor and outdoor lighting, shutting doors and using rugs to contain dust and other air contaminants in some areas, Stape said.

Since Goodwill began working to earn a Class-G rating, its utility costs have decreased, Stape said, though he would not say how much.

Goodwill spokesman David Tobiczyk said the Class-G rating gave the organization an opportunity to examine its operations.

“Being environmentally friendly has always been important at Goodwill, since we're pioneers in the field of repurposing,” Tobiczyk said. “We wanted to do something to maintain our sustainable practices on a larger scale, so we could focus more of our resources on our mission of giving back.”

Last year, Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania provided services to 65,344 people though community outreach programs and its job services program, PA CareerLink. The organization sold or recycled 13,635 tons of donated items, according to its annual report.

“We were green before anyone else, because we have been recycling since the early 1900s,” Stape said. “We just didn't realize that's what it was called — we just thought we were being cheap.”

Brad Pedersen is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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