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Longfellow Clubs Cuts Its Footprint and Engages Its Community


Editor's Note: This is the second post in a two-part series on sustainability initiatives at Longfellow Sports Clubs in Sudbury, Wayland and Natick, Massachusetts. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here.
In Part I of this two-part article, we showed how this Massachusetts-based health club company has made dramatic improvements in waste reduction, water usage efficiency and toxic chemical elimination -- significantly enhancing its financial performance and providing a safer and healthier environment for club patrons. Here, we discuss its energy efficiency improvement initiatives as well as its highly successful efforts to encourage sustainable practices in the communities in which it operates.

Lighting retrofits save cash and cut consumption

Starting in 2007 and going through early 2010, the company began switching ceiling and tennis bubbles over to fiberglass insulation. The insulation saves LFC an estimated $2,000 to $2,500 in heating and cooling costs each year. Throughout 2009, LFC upgraded its air conditioning systems at three facilities to more efficient units. This upgrade has an accumulated savings of $32,000 annually for the company in energy consumption. The Longfellow Clubs has identified lighting as a significant opportunity for it to save money and reduce its environmental footprint. It has spent the past 12 years conducting on-going changes and upgrades, and being a local test bed for emerging lighting technology. It contracts with local companies to conduct the changes, in turn, supporting its local community businesses.

Lighting tennis courts is tricky: There are rules established by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that address color, glare, contrast, horizontal luminance, uniformity of luminance and obtrusive lighting. The rules grow exponentially when the tennis facilities are being used for higher ranks of play such as regional tournaments and international competitions. In addition to the ITF rules, there are local city and county rules that also must be followed. The tennis court lamps were replaced with induction lamps at one club in early 2011 and at a second facility in late 2012. The induction lamps are a lighting breakthrough: LFC has been able to replace its 1,000-watt lamps with 500-watt lamps meeting or exceeding luminosity and other factors defined by the ITF rules. The new lamps last 70,000 hours longer, depreciate slower, reduce glare and have decreased electric lighting expenses by over 40 percent.

In early 2014 LFC launched its interior lighting improvements. The old fluorescent bulbs are being replaced with Super-T8 bulbs. New interior lighting often requires a complete retrofit of the ballasts and other physical infrastructure. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, these infrastructure retrofits represent up to 80 percent of the cost of lighting projects. LFC found a way to avoid having to retrofit or dispose of the still-usable physical infrastructure: The new Super-T8 tube fluorescents enable LFC to replace just the bulbs. The new bulbs will reduce LFC’s lighting costs in excess of 55-percent.

Community engagement from the top down

Like many small businesses, the initial sustainability journey for LFC was started because of the founders’ values. Over time Laury Hammel, co-founder and CEO, has reached out beyond Longfellow Clubs to the surrounding community and engaged both households and other businesses to further drive environmental stewardship and awareness.

He put together a sustainability framework, established a nonprofit group (Sustainable Business Network) to help other small businesses pursue sustainable business practices, defined metrics for successful implementations, and engaged his staff, members and patrons. The recycling program was launched as part of a comprehensive program aimed at raising environmental awareness. In 1985, and for the next decade, LFC held an Earth Day celebration for the entire community. The celebration included such activities as removing dumped waste from a public recreation area, having a roadside clean-up, hosting an Earth Day concert and hosting a trade show for green products. This annual event drove home the sustainable earth message. Longfellow Clubs has turned over the annual celebration to other community organizers and now acts as a participant in the events.

The firm has evolved its efforts to driving environmental awareness to individuals and their households. It has hosted numerous campaigns encouraging people to measure, track and reduce their own energy numbers. The recycling efforts at the clubs, coupled with encouraging staff, members and patrons to do the same outside of the facilities is a continuous effort to change behaviors within LFC’s sphere of influence.

As an active member of the New England business community, and a proponent of businesses reducing environmental impacts, LFC enjoys sharing the story and benefits of its sustainability initiatives. LFC has opened itself up to being a test bed for emerging sustainable technologies, unequivocally demonstrating that a business can be both green and profitable. For example, since 2010 the Super-T8 tube fluorescents have been installed in 30 other buildings across the northeast.

 Longfellow Clubs Total Resource Percentages Saved
 Facility Location Years Measured % Decrease from the 1st Year
Wayland: Water 2006-2013 37.29%
Wayland: Electric FY10 to FY13 12.12%
Wayland: Gas FY09 to FY13 26.51%
Natick LSC: Water 2008 to 2013 0.96%
Natick LSC: Electric FY11 to FY13 7.74%
Natick LSC: Gas 7.41%
Natick NRC: Water 2008 to 2013 64.51%
Natick NRC: Electric FY07 to FY13 26.65%
Natick NRC: Gas FY08 to FY13 32.39%
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Sustainability4SMEs: Graham Russell & Martha Young

Graham Russell brings 25 years of CEO experience in the environmental services industry to his current role as a sustainability professional. He currently teaches sustainable business in the University of Colorado, Denver MBA program and chair’s the School’s Managing for Sustainability Advisory Council. He provides sustainability and cleantech consulting services to SMEs through TrupointAdvisors and is on the board of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.

Martha Young has been an industry analyst and writer for 20 years. Her expertise is in small and mid-sized businesses, information technology and energy. Young co-authored four books on virtual business processes (cloud computing), and project management for IT. She is on the board of two small Texas-based businesses, and acts in a technical advisory and business strategy capacity for an east coast venture capitalist.

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