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Meyer Sound promotes zero waste at “recycled” Berkeley campus

The new efforts build on more than a decade of work led by Meyer Sound’s own “Green Team,” a group of employees that continually work on new initiatives to further the company’s sustainability goals

Meyer Sound has announced a renewed commitment to further reduce energy consumption, cut manufacturing waste to zero, and provide more incentives for employees to reduce their personal carbon footprints.

The new efforts build on more than a decade of work led by Meyer Sound’s own “Green Team,” a group of employees representing every department that continually work on new initiatives to further the company’s sustainability goals.

“At Meyer Sound, we’ve been recognised as a Bay Area Green Business for more than four years, and we’re proud to be one of the most environmentally friendly manufacturers in the audio industry,” said executive VP Helen Meyer. “But we’re not sitting still. This year we’re redoubling efforts to achieve zero waste and further shrink our carbon footprint.”

Spearheading sustainability efforts is 30-year company veteran Gary Robinson, who for the past decade has served as director of facilities and campus expansion. Robinson is charged with overseeing Meyer Sound’s physical plant, which comprises a cluster of nine structures in the bayside industrial flatlands of Berkeley, California.

“In a sense, our entire campus is recycled,” commented Robinson. “We have a total of around 220,000 square feet of floor space in structures originally built from the 1920s through the early 1950s. About 65 per cent of that space is in the historic former H.J. Heinz cannery, built in 1928. Making older buildings energy efficient is challenging, but we’ve made remarkable progress and we’re dedicated to doing more.”

The company’s ongoing efforts received a boost in 2016 when Meyer Sound joined with REV Sustainability, a consulting firm focused on green business practices, to develop a tailor-made Sustainability Action Plan.

“We put together a five year plan, which we’re about halfway through,” explained Robinson. “We set three visionary goals, including cutting energy consumption by 15 per cent and reducing manufacturing waste to zero.”

To cut electricity consumption, facilities have undergone three lighting retrofits, with the last round of T-8 fluorescent fixtures now being replaced by LEDs. All lights are programmed to go off when areas are not in use, and occupancy sensors are installed in occasional use areas like restrooms.

All HVAC systems have been upgraded for maximum efficiency, including special equaliser units to manage outside air intake. An online monitoring system delivers real-time status information to assure minimal energy consumption.

Under the new programme, the company has made enormous strides in waste reduction, cutting manufacturing waste by nearly 75 per cent. “No old or rejected electronic components go to landfill,” added Robinson. “We take an amplifier down to the PC board, stripping and recycling the copper, aluminium, plastic, and even the steel screws. And as for lunch room waste, we now have composting bins.”

Wood waste from loudspeaker cabinets is either converted to pellets for biomass electricity generation or recycled into veneers or gardening mulch. Water usage is monitored closely, with consumption relative to manufacturing output dropping sharply. Careful monitoring and fixture retrofits, down to the level of low-flow toilets, have earned the Berkeley campus the East Bay Municipal Utilities Water Smart Business Award.

Meyer Sound has also joined a REV Sustainability Circle, which brought together diverse business enterprises in the area to develop innovative solutions to common problems. “Our group included Pixar Animation Studios and Bayer Pharmaceuticals, which are very different businesses from us,” observed Robinson, “but that actually helps us learn as we benefit from their different perspectives.”

Beyond its own efforts, Meyer Sound is extending its commitment upstream by sending out letters to all vendors worldwide, asking them to detail their own sustainability programmes.

Meyer Sound actively encourages employees to take action on environmental concerns. As one example, Meyer Sound employees volunteer regularly on clean-up programmes in the parks and wetlands adjoining San Francisco Bay. Also, as a number of employees now drive to work in electric vehicles, the company plans to greatly expand access to charging stations in the coming year.

In the spirit of this year’s upcoming Earth Week (April 22-26), Meyer Sound employees are encouraged to volunteer with Friends of Five Creeks in Berkeley for local coastal clean-up and restoration, and to attend sustainability presentations hosted all week in the Pearson Theatre located on the Meyer Sound Berkeley campus.