A quarterly newsletter from your friends at Miller Brooks.


Sustainability and our company’s building: how much is LEED® certification worth?

by Tom Miller

As the tenant owner of our 25 plus-year-old office building, we wanted to make it as energy-efficient and sustainable as possible. So, a little over three years ago, we registered our office as a LEED® building site. This made official our intent to go through the process to obtain LEED-EB (Existing Building) certification status.

LEED stands for Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design. It is the proprietary program of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), which administers the program and approves the applications after a thorough review of the exhaustive process.

Being a small business, we have proceeded in a methodical fashion to make all of the necessary improvements to our 16,000-square-foot building. This summer, we got to the point where we thought the building was ready for a professional review to see if we could achieve LEED certification.

Here are just some of the projects we’ve completed:

  • Sealed all exterior walls, inside and out
  • Added R-60 insulation to the attic areas
  • Developed an eco-friendly landscaping plan with no phosphorus fertilizers, limited use of herbicides/pesticides, installing indigenous plants that are more drought tolerant, eco-friendly sidewalk salt
  • Stepped up our recycling and waste reduction efforts (weekly solid waste is approaching less than one cubic yard)
  • Met with outside suppliers to reduce the amount of recyclable or solid waste they “send into our building” (e.g., we supply reusable delivery bags and containers; encourage minimal or no packaging for local deliveries)
  • Eliminated all space heaters (one space heater can use $20-30 of electricity per month when used just during business hours. It is much more energy-efficient to adjust the thermostat, which has 12 different controllable zones)
  • Installed Delta® electronic faucets, and water-reducing showerheads
  • KitchenAid® ENERGY STAR® appliances (dishwasher, refrigerator)
  • Motion-activated lighting in conference rooms and non-office space
  • In the works: replacing bottled water for guests with reusable carafes of filtered water

We interviewed and engaged a consulting company to guide us through the LEED process, beginning with a required ENERGY STAR® energy audit. We were pleasantly surprised when we easily achieved ENERGY STAR® status. And we were even more surprised to learn that when we completed the few small items we had remaining on our punch list, we would qualify for LEED Silver.

Then, we received a bit of bad news: completing the certification process with the consulting firm would cost about $24,000.

We love knowing that our building is functioning at a pretty high standard. We thank LEED for giving us the roadmap to achieve this, and we thank our consultants for taking us through the initial process.

But the decision now focuses on determining the best use of that $24,000. Should we complete the process and proudly hang a plaque on the wall? Should we invest it back into the building? Or should we use it for completely unrelated needs?

We debated this issue for quite some time. After all, we are vocally committed to environmental stewardship and making buildings greener, more energy- and water-efficient, and more healthy and pleasant to occupy. Our final decision: skip the plaque and put the money to productive use in making the building a more sustainable place to work. We know this is ultimately what really matters.

Five things we learned at Connections 2011.

How do you maximize a limited number of conference attendees’ education?
by Amanda Miller

While attending seminars and conferences are some of the greatest ways for employees to stay on top of industry trends and learn new things that can benefit your business, maximizing that education for the benefit of the organization as a whole can be a challenge.

Miller Brooks recently sent a handful of staffers to the ExactTarget® user conference, Connections 2011. Following the conference—filled to the brim with information and ideas—each person began completing three tasks in order to share the information with their teammates:

  1. Share key learnings in one combined presentation to the staff. Each attendee was tasked with distilling their impressions into five minutes of key takeaways worth sharing with the whole agency.
  2. Write one blog post to share on the MB blog. It didn’t need to be long nor comprehensive. But each attendee was asked to share an interesting thought, something that made an impression, or a new trick they learned, in a blog post. These help to educate not only our staff, but our clients and friends, as well.
  3. Create focused lunch-and-learn sessions on specific topics, to delve more deeply into the information. These are designed for specific audiences within the agency, rather than the group as a whole.

So, what did they learn? Check out these five blog posts to find out:

Connections 2011: ExactTarget’s user conference wows again. I thoroughly enjoyed everything, from the opening keynote speakers to the breakout sessions and the closing day “marketing burst” sessions. I left with a few “aha” moments and lots of key takeaways from the event, namely related to mobile marketing, measurement, and managing data. Read more…

The power of 9 quotes: most memorable quotes from Connections 2011. “The Power of One” was the theme of the Connections 2011 user conference, and that very message was clear. Here are nine powerful quotes—one each from nine speakers who left me pondering long after their presentations concluded. Read more…

Social media success: Southwest Airlines’ rapping flight attendant. Southwest Airlines, as a brand, has always fascinated me. It has no problem with employees expressing their personalities through their job, and the brand uses that to its advantage in the company’s social media strategy. Read more…

Lead nurturing: building relationships to qualify more leads. Have you been to a trade show lately? If so, you may have noticed that booth traffic is slower than in the past, and leads are down. With so many companies watching their bottom line, it is not surprising that they are sending fewer people to trade shows. So, as a marketer, what are you doing differently with those valuable leads? Read more…

Looking at social media as data: making measurement meaningful. While social media has become a valuable part of the marketing mix for many of today’s companies, many recent studies show most measurement is ad hoc and scattered. Of those attempting to measure, few are doing it in a meaningful way. Read more…

Cook for the Cure serves up largest donation to date.

Miller Brooks’ 10th Annual Cook for the Cure was a big success.
by Erin Haskett

On Friday, October 7, 2011, Miller Brooks hosted nearly 250 guests at our 10th annual Cook for the Cure in what became food-fight central, as an International Cuisine competition ensued. And it was all in the name of fighting breast cancer.

Our goal: To raise $100,000 in 10 years for the Indianapolis affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure—and have fun!

The weather was perfect, as a final surge of summer fell upon Indianapolis. Employee teams representing five countries set up their make-shift restaurants on the grounds of Miller Brooks. They cooked, served, cheered and danced from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. And that doesn’t include the hours of cooking and strategizing beforehand. Whew!

The countries and representing teams were:

  • Australia: Team Aussie
  • Greece: Hellenic Bells
  • Germany: Spitzen Koch
  • India: Curry Fury!
  • Italy: Mamma Mia!

The competition was fierce, and in the end, Team Greece/Hellenic Bells took top honors again. (Last year, the same team was known as “Hell’s Bells”.)

A different kind of competition took place online simultaneously: with over 70 items up for bid in the silent auction, guests near and far had plenty to choose from.

All of us at Miller Brooks are proud to report that we smashed our previous fundraising records and raised nearly $20,000—almost enough to meet that goal of $100,000 in 10 years. While there is still no cure for breast cancer, we know that we are making an impact on finding it. And once the cure is found, what a celebration that will be.

A special thanks to our event sponsors:

  • Delta Faucet Company
  • Eiteljorg Museum
  • Green Builder Media
  • Kimball Office
  • Lake County Press
  • Marvel Us Parties
  • Mallow Run Winery
  • Platinum Recruiting
  • Whirlpool Corporation

Here’s a video from the special day:

Thank you to everyone who came, donated, ate, and helped us this year! We hope you can join us again.