About the Program


In an effort to promote more sustainable law practices, the Colorado Bar Association created the Environmental Sustainability Program ("ESP" or "Program"). The Program challenges Bar Association members to demonstrate their commitment to environmental excellence by taking steps to reduce energy use and resource waste, and to otherwise strive for sustainability, at their firm or place of business ("law practice").
The Program contains three, interconnected components—people, planet, and profit—which are crucial to creating a sustainable practice. For each component, law practices make cost-saving investments, adopt conservation measures, or implement other environmental best practices. 
We encourage law practices to meet the ESP challenge at a level they are comfortable with. The levels of achievement, based on the total number of measures adopted, are as follows:
• Silver— Your law practice rises to the ESP challenge by implementing 10–15 measures. 
• Gold — Your law practice rises to the ESP challenge by implementing 16–20 measures. 
• Platinum— Your law practice rises to the ESP challenge by implementing more than 20 measures.

To participate in the Program, please complete this application by selecting the measures your law practice is performing and provide documentation as indicated. Complete the form for review and approval by the CBA ESP Committee. Once approved, the law practice will need to recertify annually (by July 1) to continue to participate in the program. The CBA ESP Committee will send all participants recertification documentation by May 1.

Environmental Sustainability Program Saves Money

Duplex Printing / Reducing Office Paper Waste

Compact fluorescent Lights (CFLs)

Energy Consumption

  • Energy costs represent about 30% of a typical office building’s costs. If a law office rents a 20,000-square-foot space and pays $2 per square foot for energy, a 30% reduction can add up to $60,000 over a five-year lease. Law Office Guide to Energy Efficiency, ABA.
  • In a typical 200-person office, using equipment with Energy Star features yielded annual cost savings of approximately $30,000 and 190 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Green Guide for Lawyers, Meritas.
  • On average, a Dell desktop computer requires 85 watts of electricity just to idle, even with the monitor off. If that computer is only in use or idling for 40 hours a week instead of a full 168, over $40 in energy costs will be saved annually from that workstation alone.University of Michigan Energy Management.

The comparison between paper and electronic document storage is downright astounding!

  • A case of paper (5,000 sheets), once released from its tidy packaging and placed in file folders, will fill one drawer of a standard vertical file cabinet.
  • Each page, as a scanned image, takes up about 50 kilobytes of digital space.
  • That means those 5,000 pages—or one file cabinet drawer—takes up
    approximately 250 megabytes of digital space. A four-drawer file cabinet (or 20,000 pages) needs 1 gigabyte of digital space.
  • A one-terabyte hard disk drive (the equivalent of 1,000 gigabytes or 1,000 four-drawer filing cabinets) costs less than $100.

[Source: David L. Masters, Electronic Client Files, The Colorado Lawyer, vol. 41, n. 2 (Feb. 2012).]



Environmental Sustainability Program is Good for the Environment


    • Encouraging employees to carpool or take public transportation benefits the environment. The average car in the United States produces one pound of carbon dioxide per mile traveled. Vanpooling produces about .22 pounds of carbon dioxide per mileper passenger, and public transportation such as bus, light rail, or commuter rail produces an average of .45 pounds per mile per passenger. U.S. Department of Transportation Public Transportation’s Role in Responding to Climate Change.
    • Use of Energy Star labeled equipment in a typical 200-person office can save up to 190 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.Green Guide for Lawyers, Meritas.
    • Recycling benefits the environment by conserving natural resources, saving energy, and reducing pollution. Recycling just 30% of materials currently going into landfills translates into a savings of 50 million BTUs of energy, reducing pollutants by over 2.5 million tons, and using 10 million fewer trees. Colorado Association for Recycling, Recycling: a Cornerstone of Sustainability Fact Sheet.
    • Water is a finite resource that is scarce in arid climates such as Colorado’s. Reducing water use benefits the environment by eliminating the need to develop further water supplies that can cause widespread environmental damage and helps keep the water in our state’s lakes, aquifers, and rivers. WesternResource Advocates.




    Resources to Get You Started

    Commercial Green-Leasing Resources

    1. Green building leases for businesses
    2. A short guide for green leasing, prepared by the City of Seattle

    Properly Disposing of Electronic Waste

    1. Electronics, books, etc. recycling for Boulder firms
    2. Electronics recycling information for Denver firms

    Adopting a Comingled Recycling Program

    1. Creating a workplace recycling program; the basics
    2. Business collection
    3. Private companies that provide commercial recycling programs)

    Donate legal services to a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainability

    1. Potential pro-bono or discounted services opportunity

    Green vendors / VOC-free cleaning products / sustainable office supplies

    1. Eco-Cycle
    2. The Green Office

    Reducing Emissions and Offsetting emissions through CO Carbon Fund