"Greening Up" Our Space

Written by Alejandra Winter, Community Principal CIC Miami

In the last year, CIC Miami has made a concentrated effort to further our sustainable initiatives. “Greening up” our space means we’re helping improve our footprint and strengthening our commitment to being socially and environmentally responsible.

CIC Miami has always taken sustainability seriously, but managing 80,000 square feet of space with 800+ people per day and an average of 800 extra people coming to events every week used to mean the generation of a lot of plastic waste, car pollution, and garbage, among other things. We have always had a laser focus on our mission - creating vibrant and plural communities that help fix the world through innovation - and take great pride in the quality of service and impact we deliver. In this light, it seemed critical to revisit our operating practices to ensure we were pushing ourselves to be as mindful, sustainable, and socially conscious as possible.

We did have a head start. Converge Miami, which houses CIC Miami, is LEED certified and has a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. As such, it uses multiple systems for energy conservation and efficient operations. These include the programming of automatic sleep modes for light and HVAC flow after-hours and an interior design that leverages natural light and occupancy sensors to diminish electricity usage.  Most bathrooms include hand dryers to reduce paper towel usage. For the sake of water conservation, we also recycle rainwater for toilets, urinals, and air conditioner cooling.

Since our opening, we have had recycling bins in every office and common space, a specific shredding service for paper goods, and an offering of reusable kitchen plates/cutlery to encourage less waste. But with the help of Lean Orb, CIC joined the "Miami is not Plastic campaign."  As a result, we replaced our reusable plastic cups with stainless steel ones, changed our disposable plastic cups to paper ones, and transitioned our disposable cutlery to easily decomposing ones (unlike most compostable cutlery, which require a specific process to be composted, and often disposed of incorrectly). Our stirrers are also no longer plastic, so the only usable plastic item in our kitchens are coffee lids, for which there is currently no non-plastic alternative. In summary, we are immensely proud to say that our daily use of client-facing kitchenware is 98% plastic free.

“There is unstoppable momentum for a low-carbon circular economy so if you want to keep up with the progress, sustainability should be a key metric for your business.  Major tech firms and food producers had already committed to slash emissions from internal operations by focusing on energy, waste, and packaging. Based on the sustainability targets set out for this year, CIC will be at the forefront of that movement locally and hopefully nationwide," says Anastasia Mikhalochkina, Lean Orb Founder, our client and Babson WIN alumna.

In addition, in collaboration with The Fertile Earth Foundation, we've installed bins for composting organic waste, where coffee grinds, tea, fruit and vegetable scraps, and our new compostable cutlery can be disposed of. Through this collaboration, CIC has saved a total of 2,138 pounds of organic waste in our first 23 weeks of use! That's an average of 108 pounds per week going to a local garden instead of landfills! What makes this initiative even more special to us is the fact that our compostable materials are taken to SmartBites, a restaurant kitty-corner from us; in addition to being eco-friendly, this also gives us a way to collaborate in the growth of a neighboring, fellow business in Overtown. They  use the finished compost on site in their gardens and also in Educational workshops for the community. Additionally, several clients have signed up to compost at home and bring it to CIC to be picked up as part of our service, thus extending the overall impact of this project beyond our walls, one household at a time.

As we heard from Priscilla Carolyn, board member of The Fertile Earth Foundation "There is no waste in nature. Every time we throw something away, we're wasting a potential resource." With this in mind, we have also decided to add hand dryers and to limit the use of paper towels in the bathrooms during large events.

Earlier this year, we also participated in the ribbon cutting for a smart universal charging system for electric vehicles, installed on the property by our own client, Brickell Energy. With this amenity, we are lowering the barrier for CIC community members to switch to zero-emission electric vehicles. Alejandro Burgana, CEO of Brickell Energy, makes a very strong case for increased access to the kind of infrastructure that incentivizes less driving, commenting, “At Brickell Energy we are dedicated to promoting the electrification of the transport sector as the most effective way to reduce our carbon footprint. The smart charger offers our proprietary aFLoat charging-as-a-service program to the whole community of CIC and Converge Miami. By driving electric and using this charging station on a regular basis, drivers are helping to preserve Florida one connection at a time, saving 25% on fueling costs and eliminating 20 pounds of CO2 for every gallon of gas avoided. I congratulate CIC, Ventas and Cushman & Wakefield for supporting this initiative.”  

With increased interest in healthy, sustainable, and economic transportation options, CIC is also promoting bike usage. Miami is a city of long distance commutes and heavy traffic, so to encourage the use of alternate transportation options - in addition to healthy lifestyle benefits - we are in the process of confirming a shared bike installation on the property and have launched biking initiatives.  One of these is a “Bike to Work” week, a quarterly tradition co-founded with our client, Harris Levine. He says, "Biking to work is amazing. You get some exercise, it feels good, and you're not burning fossil fuels to move a 1,200 pound box. CIC's Bike to Work Week was exciting because it helped make everyone feel a little bit more comfortable on the roads."

“We at CIC are passionate about the advent of all forms of innovation, not just because it creates novel opportunities and efficiencies, but also because it can drive more environmentally and conscious progress,” concludes our General Manager Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, “These initiatives are certainly an exciting step toward changing how we view our footprint locally, and we are thrilled to be supporting these initiatives and working with such great partner organizations in our own backyard.