Recap: The 2018 Straughan Sustainability Awards


By: Chimere Lesane-Matthews, AICP

Straughan’s Vision is “advancing sustainable solutions”, and we are dedicated to continuously push ourselves and our clients to integrate more sustainable practices and solutions into our processes and projects.

Annually, Straughan celebrates and recognizes its staff for sustainability efforts. Last year, there were so many nominations that we created two categories – Projects and Processes – with 3 winners each! Below is a synopsis of the 2018 Straughan Sustainability Award winners, and we look forward to even more to come in 2019!

Sustainability Award Winning Projects:

Cedar Haven Fishing Area Living Shoreline Project: the project’s original purpose was to reduce erosion and eliminate sediment. However, John Bishop realized that this project had the potential to improve ecological habitat, and his efforts helped with regulatory permitting and provided PG County Recreation & Parks with a much richer environmental resource for the community to enjoy. For minimal extra costs, John’s efforts resulted in the creation of a marsh and habitat for fish and other wildlife. If all goes well, you should be able to visit the completed Cedar Haven project at the end of this year to do some fishing to see how the fish like their new home!

Windy Knolls Project: The project originally included a lay down of a very large area of rock stabilization. Phillip Capon spearhead our modeling effort for the Windy Knolls project. He completed research and training, and collaborated with industry peers to learn how to use this new technology to better serve our client and our resource. Ultimately, he came up with a revised design that eliminated the risk and the need for stone and allowed us to create a more natural habitat. Not only did we deliver an objectively better project to our client, we also saved them over $75,000 in construction costs on stone!

NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Team Volunteering Challenge: The least recognized, yet equally important element of sustainability is the people, as the sustainable outputs of people is often overlooked in favor of financial or environmental benefits.  The JSC Team started the Community Service Initiative with the goal to encourage employees to engage in meaningful activities throughout the community and inspire other employees to participate in 200 hours of people-based community and sustainability initiatives. Spearheaded by Jeni Morrison, the JSC Team’s 15 participants contributed to 244 hours volunteered in 2017 spanning a wide range of topics, and then met an even more aggressive goal in 2018. Not only did these efforts help enrich the local environment, but they also supported educational, veteran, STEM, and various charity efforts in local communities.  Inspiring employees to volunteer throughout our local communities actively demonstrates Straughan’s commitment to sustainability efforts through community engagement.  Further, the JSC Team participation inspired friends and families to join in community service efforts, and this ripple will be felt as more and more people join us in supporting sustainability throughout our communities.

Sustainability Award Winning Process Changes:

Annual Employee Picnic: Straughan’s 2018 annual picnic was 100% waste free!  The committee ensured that every aspect of the picnic was environmentally friendly from the compostable paper products and onsite compost bins, to the recyclable containers the caterer brought to ensure that excess food was distributed to employees. In addition, the event was an opportunity to showcase Straughan’s mission of creating a sustainable world to our colleagues, families, and the community.

Computer Recycling: Our marketing team spearheaded an effort to recycle and reuse Straughan’s office equipment. Monitors and desktop computers, reformatted for home use, were given to interested employees through the use of a lottery system. This effort helped recycle a significant amount of equipment that still had lots of life in it but was no longer needed in the office.

Paper Reduction: Our accounting staff transitioned many accounting-related processes and documents to an electronic format, which not only reduced paper and office supply costs, but also increased efficiency.

From re-purposing computers, to finding opportunities to create habitat, we strive to make our ever-developing world healthier and more sustainable. In the next year, we look forward to showcasing the way innovative sustainable thinking can improve both the quality of our projects and the environment around us!