It’s a new year and with the turn of the calendar page come the inevitable pledges to slough off all our bad habits and develop better ones. Yes, I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions. The idea might be considered a cliché, and rationally, we know nothing magical on January first will make us more likely to succeed. But there’s something undeniably attractive about the idea of a fresh start.

As green building consultants, we do our best at Paladino to walk the talk, both at work and in our personal time. Paladino encourages a culture of continuous improvement and we’re always striving to do better.

So, I asked several of my coworkers about their green New Year’s resolutions – what old habits do they want to do away with, and what new, sustainable ones do they want to embrace? What changes do they plan to make to help create a greener world? Here’s what they had to say:

Mike Hamilton, Green Building Consultant: I resolve to sign up for 100% green electric power, which costs only 10% more in Virginia than regular electric power. This should cut my carbon emissions by almost half, at a cost of about $3 a month. Who said going green is expensive?

Brad Pease, Director, Signature Buildings: I resolve to walk home from the office every day, rain, shine, sleet, or snow!

Jackson Ludwig, Operations Manager: My resolution is to come up with a better solution for composting at home.  The City of Seattle allows residents to put food scraps in the yard waste bin, but mine often gets put in the garbage simply because when I store it on the counter, it gets too smelly.  I’m going to start using a large yogurt container in the freezer for my compost and freeze it to avoid odor and divert this waste from the landfill.

Stuart Mitchell, Associate Consultant: My 2014 resolution is to move further from processed food systems and get back to the earth. Grow more food, eat more seasonally, source happy meats, create from scratch and preserve the abundance. Locally sourced organic foods are healthier, support local economies, reduce carbon footprint and do not strip the earth via chemical fertilizers.

Julie Honeywell, VP of Talent Management: I’m going to take the stairs everywhere I go this year. Not only will I save energy by not using elevators or escalators, it will also help me achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Robin McNeil, Accounting Manager: I installed an efficient natural gas furnace, which should reduce energy use for 2014, and I will be selecting more organic food.

Tim Zhu, Associate Consultant: I recently married, so my resolution is to create and maintain a green home with my wife. This may include using reusable bags for shopping; shutting lights off when not in use; using public transportation as much as possible; and reusing or recycling boxes, food jars, and papers. There are several reasons to do such things: cutting our living expense so not to exceed our household budget; minimizing our carbon footprint since more and more people are moving to the Seattle area; and doing what I should be doing as a green industry worker.

Hank Meuret, Senior Manager of Technology Services: I resolve to replace some older home-network equipment with newer, more energy efficient models. This always-on equipment creates a lot of fan noise and generates a lot of heat. Replacing (and recycling) this equipment with more energy efficient models will save electricity as well as making my home office a more pleasant environment.

Thai Nguyen, Accounting Manager: I’ve decided to go green this year with my yard. I plan on using organic/natural fertilizers for my lawn and plants. I’m also going to start growing fruits and vegetables again after taking several years off, which will cut down on car trips to the store.

I’ve ordered four rain barrels to collect water during the summer months for the plants and I will find a way to use my pond water and pond waste to fertilize the rest of the yard.  I tried it a little late year and it worked well, so I’m going to go big with it this year. All the pond waste will go into the compost pile or directly onto the lawn.

Lexy Relph, Business Consultant: I’m going to retrofit more of my home lighting with LED fixtures. Our newly renovated kitchen is 100% lit by LED, and we’ve already swapped out most of our home’s incandescent bulbs for CFLs (which I don’t like very much) and LEDs (which I love). Now I to need to tackle the last few fixtures, especially now that conventional incandescent bulbs are no longer being produced in or imported to the US.

Paul Paladino, Executive Vice President: I resolve to reduce my energy footprint by reducing total kwh used at home by at least 10% in the new year, and to support clean energy by committing to the 100% participation level in Seattle City Light’s Green-Up Program.

David Wells, IT Support Technician: Being newer to the Seattle area, I’m very impressed with the city’s transportation system. I want to take advantage and not use/own a personal vehicle this year. The energy it takes to move a personal one-ton vehicle everyday far outweighs the energy of occupying an existing bus or ferry route. Often times, using public transportation requires planning your trips a little more strategically, and can be a minor inconvenience; however, we are creatures of habit and that’s what resolutions are all about changing.

Making Change Stick

As we know from our work as change agents, just saying you want to change a behavior doesn’t make it so. On the blog, we’ve discussed how you need an arsenal of tools to make behavior change sustainable and long-lasting. Identifying a green resolution is the easy part – now it’s time to do the hard work of making our resolution into a habit!

What’s your green resolution for 2014? And what are you doing to make sure it sticks?

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