When it comes to conservation, every little bit helps. For Earth Day, we caught up with a multinational water company newly riding the rails, a bank recycling 88 tons of paper, an elderly care facility that’s feeling the heat and a coffee shop going with the low-flow to do its part.

It’s green, to go

Bob Seavey and Frank Minigell built their latest Dunkin’ Donuts in Oxford — they have eight and counting in the Twin Cities and Western Maine — to “DD Green Elite” standards:

• Nontoxic, zero-VOC paints inside and out;

• All energy-efficient LED lighting;

• Specialized low-flow plumbing fixtures for toilets; and

• Sinks that allow fewer gallons per minute.

It’s the fifth “Green Elite” Dunkin’ in the state, an initiative the chain launched in late 2014. Maine’s other elites are in the Skowhegan and Bangor areas.

The changes cost more upfront but have already proven they’ll pay for themselves, Seavey said. Since the Oxford Dunkin’ opened in December, the business partners have seen $400 a month savings in the electric bill, compared to their other stores.

“We will utilize all of this going forward in our new construction,” he said. “The savings (are) there. And then the maintenance, too. I’m forever replacing parking lot lights. It seems like you just get everything fixed in one store; you go around, another store’s got them burned out. You need bucket trucks, and two men, and four hours and labor. These LEDs, God, they last forever. More than twice as long.”

He has two upcoming remodels in Auburn — Minot Avenue in 2018 and Center Street in 2019 — and plans to incorporate green features in both.

“We’ve got to take care of what we have here in resources, particularly in the state of Maine,” Seavey said.

Heat to spare

St. Mary’s Health System wasn’t looking to spend $500,000 on a new gas-fired cogeneration unit for d’Youville Pavilion in Lewiston.

When Efficiency Maine offered to pay half through its commercial and industrial custom program and modeling showed a net energy savings of $80,000 a year, it wasn’t a tough call.

Director of Facilities Scott Young said the natural-gas-fired generator produces enough electricity to cover between 75 percent and 100 percent of the building’s power demands. In the process, it also produces enough heat to supply 41,000 gallons of hot water a year — enough to meet the needs of the St. Mary’s campus-wide laundry and kitchen as well as hot water for d’Youville and the neighboring St. Mary’s Residences.

“We take the waste heat off the engine,” Young said. “Instead of blowing it into the air, we extract the heat and use it to heat the hot water.”

The project went online last month. The investment should pay for itself in less than three years.

St. Mary’s has taken many Earth-friendly measures over the years, he said, including installing special flooring, using green cleaning products and recycling.

In this case, the financial impact was the driver; the environmental impact, a nice bonus.

“Efficiency Maine’s goal is to take power away from the grid,” he said. “It’s just bottom line: It helps the nursing home.”

Counting your greens

Six years ago, Norway Savings Bank started scanning and electronically sending checks to a central point each day to eliminate the need for couriers to drive around to its 20-plus branches each day to round up checks and deliver them in person.

The move cut costs and on-the-job miles.

“It was kind of the best of both worlds,” said Steve Whitney, executive vice president of risk management, IT and deposit operations. “It certainly was driven by economics back then, but we quickly realized there was an environmental benefit to the process, as well.”

From there, the bank got serious about keeping documents paperless, whenever possible, and recycling.

In the past six years, it has recycled 178,000 pounds — 88 tons — of paper, according to Secure RMS, its contracted recycler.

Secure RMS figures that amounts to saving 1,498 trees, 616,630 gallons of water and 440 cubic yards of landfill space.

Next up: A push for electronic monthly statements. The bank has gotten 35 percent of customers to switch.

All aboard

Earlier this month, 60 container loads per week of Poland Spring water bottled at the company’s Kingfield plant started making the trip to Massachusetts by train instead of truck.

Coupled with another 45 container loads that started leaving each week from its Hollis plant earlier this year, all that rail is expected to save more than 500,000 truck miles — and all of those emissions — in 2016, according to Chris Haynes, director of Northeast logistics for parent company Nestle Waters North America.

In Kingfield’s case, the move was made possible by the Waterville Intermodal Facility getting forklift-like equipment capable of taking a container off a truck and loading it onto a train. The water is being trucked from Kingfield to Waterville for the trip.

“U.S. Intermodal, they had two of these lifts,” Haynes said. “They were out of the Northeast and they were underutilized. We talked with them about moving them to Waterville and we said, ‘If you move these to Waterville, we’ll use them.'”

The bottling plant in Poland has seen successful test runs trucking some of its water to the Auburn Intermodal Facility and hopping the rail there, he said.

“We prioritized Hollis and Kingfield first for this, based on areas of what we perceive as need,” Haynes said. “That is something we would consider revisiting in the future.”

Right now, the cost difference is a wash, but it’s an environmental win.

“Those are very big reasons,” he said. “We’re not necessarily doing it for financial reasons, in this phase. It’s more about learning to ship via rail intermodal, getting good at that and then starting to stretch down farther to service our New York market, and we expect the benefits to grow once we do that.”

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