MPower Champions show Greater Madison businesses the meaning of sustainability

The MPower Business Champions were in a sharing mood at the Jan. 23 MPower Champion Public Showcase (video link). Reynolds Transfer & Storage and Shopbop shared their bike repair stand projects. Trek Bicycles and Aprilaire shared information about their sustainable food projects. And State Street restaurant Tutto Pasta shared its energy-efficiency projects. 

In all, 12 businesses gave presentations on the sustainability projects they worked on during the one-year MPower voluntary program. Projects ran the gamut of practical solutions, and a good business case could be made for all of them.

Sustainability was music to Isthmus Publishing Co.’s ears — literally. Presenter Thom Jones sang about how the company’s server virtualization project saved energy and emissions while improving the bottom line. And to close the circle of sustainability, the company called on File-13, a local e-recycling resource, to take its old server instead of adding it to the landfill. 

Sustainability was also the means to “get creative,” as Nick Robinson from Trek Bicycles said when presenting his company’s project, which involved the sourcing of local food for Trek’s employee cafeteria. When the price of locally sourced cuts of meat was more than the company had previously paid, its head chef went back to the chopping block to create new recipes and meal plans that catered to a more balanced approach. Nick then proceeded to make every audience member salivate by reading the new menu at Trek. 

The sustainability mantra for Filament Games, which was participating in the MPower program for the second time, was “it isn’t easy being green.” An upcoming office move became an opportunity to define what a sustainable office could look like. That definition evolved while the company worked with its new landlord on what could and couldn’t be done in its new space. A big win for Filament was finding environmentally friendly office furniture while recycling its existing desks and chairs. Now when the company beta tests its educational video games on office couches, developers will know they are in a healthy workplace environment.

A multiyear participant, UW Health gave presentations on two of its locations that participated in the MPower Business Champions program in 2014. Both the Middleton Rehabilitation Clinic and the Digestive Health Center developed green teams and sustainability strategies. Middleton’s focus was on improving recycling, and that culminated in a multi-recycling station for patients and employees that was located in the front waiting area.

At the newly built Digestive Health Center, the green team wanted to focus on living up to its building’s LEED standard. That meant including LEED information for all employee orientations and increasing awareness through existing communications. 



A common theme for all the projects was employee engagement. Aprilaire, a division of Research Products Corp., improved its recycling efforts with new receptacles that came complete with clearer signage. This was a far cry from the company’s “before” picture, which showed a haphazard pile of unsorted waste.

Megan Leick, communications project coordinator at Aprilaire, said that success to the company meant making recycling second nature. From marketing to IT and from maintenance to HR, everyone was involved in changing habits. At the same time, the company learned about momentum. By participating in MPower, it was able to build up energy, start the conversation, and connect with resources that helped create those positive changes. The company found that employees liked doing the right thing and were proud of it. 

For all the 2014 MPower Business Champions, their project outcomes were clearly positive.  Pam McCord, owner of Tutto Pasta State Street, summed it up best by saying, “Doing MPower just makes you feel good.” Each presenter agreed, and they all said that sustainability was going to continue at all of their organizations well after their graduation in March. 

If you’re interested in becoming an MPower Business Champion, apply to be part of the seventh MPower Champion cohort! Applications for 2015 MPower are currently being accepted until March 9, with the program scheduled to begin on March 24. For more about the program and to apply, go to

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