The AAOS staff “green” initiative was part of the annual “Take our daughters and sons to work” Day celebrations. Signs created by the children will be posted throughout the AAOS headquarters building in Rosemont, Ill.
Courtesy of Erin L. Ransford


Published 6/1/2010
Erin L. Ransford; Joel Datz

AAOS adopts “green” practices

Academy staff promote sustainability, social responsibility

Eliminating paper agenda books, increasing recycling, reducing electricity through the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, conducting field tests for the Orthopaedic In-Training Exam (OITE) electronically—these are just a few of the steps the AAOS has taken to help conserve natural resources and reduce the Academy’s impact on the environment.

It all began in 2008, when the Academy’s Board of Directors asked the senior management team to identify and pursue a corporate social responsibility goal. The defined environmental goal, popularly known as the “Green Goal,” was to identify and implement at least 50 changes with a measurable environmental benefit.

The “Green Team”
A team of dedicated volunteer staff was formed to lead the initiative. The “Green Team” started with a company-wide electronic survey to assess employee attitudes. This was followed by ideas for modifications and process improvements in specific, measureable categories such as office supplies, vendor products, travel and transportation, paper usage, and recycling.

Green Team members researched potential solutions and proposed plans of action. They also worked with department directors to implement change and take steps to reduce waste, increase recycling, expand use of recycled or recyclable supplies, reduce electricity and natural resource consumption, and promote awareness of environmental issues. Academy staff altered the ways they prepared for meetings, communicated with members, and worked with vendors.

Tracking progress
Regular e-mail newsletters highlighted the “green” changes, while informing and educating staff, and inspiring new ideas. Tips, facts, and feature articles on environmental topics encouraged making positive changes both in the workplace and at home.

Efforts to promote recycling paid off, and small changes—such as turning off electrical equipment and office lights and switching to reusable mugs and tumblers—added up. Within the AAOS headquarters building, changes included shifts to Energy Star Certified appliances, non-toxic paints, and upgrades to the heating/ventilation and air conditioning system to more efficiently monitor the heating and cooling of the building.

Many of the changes implemented were either cost-neutral or reduced expenses. For example, modernizing the ceiling lighting reduced electricity use for lighting by two-thirds, and returned the associated investment in less than 3 years.

Green changes at Annual Meeting and CME courses
Although many of these changes are “behind the scenes,” AAOS members are also noticing a change. Printed materials for both the Annual Meeting and Academy CME courses have been significantly reduced. Through Green Team efforts, numerous publications, both internal and external, are now converted to PDFs and e-mailed or saved on compact discs instead of printed on paper and mailed.

One example is the Annual Meeting exhibitor manual. Once a 200-page document mailed to more than 550 companies, it is now entirely online. Annual Meeting instructional course lecture handouts are now available on CD only. The quarterly Placement Service Job Listing book, a 150-page publication that had been mailed to nearly 1,000 subscribers, is now a customized PDF.

Also, the AAOS Evaluation Committee eliminated 30,000 sheets of paper annually by converting its field test reviews to electronic files.

Less noticeable, but still significant, is the shift to recycled paper and vendors who use sustainable products like soy-based inks and chlorofluorocarbon-free plastics.

Continuing to grow green
As a result, more than 60 “green” changes were introduced in 2009. Not only did these changes significantly reduce paper, waste, and energy consumption, they also reduced office supply costs and utility bills. A review of processes resulted in major savings in natural resources as well as in time and man-hours.

As a result of these efforts, the AAOS was recognized by the American Society of Association Executives in its April 2010 newsletter Associations Now. Global warming challenges all Americans and the Academy is doing its part in conserving energy and eliminating waste. Human resource studies show that environmental programs are a key factor in attracting and retaining staff, especially younger employees. The AAOS staff is dedicated to an environmentally friendly workplace and promoting sustainability, green consciousness, and savings.

Joel Datz is AAOS director of facilities management and Erin L. Ransford is manager, research development; both are members of the Green Team.

Additional Resources:

ASAE Success through Sustainability