Waterfront Financial Group
April 2023 – Environmentally conscious decision-making guides the practices and preferences of many Minnesotans. As wealth management specialists, staff at Edina-based Waterfront Financial Group have a unique perspective on this growing movement.
As a case in point, Operations Manager Annika Hansen points to clients’ keen interest in so-called green funds – bonds, stocks and other investments primed to support environmentally responsible business sectors while also yielding benefits to the investor.
Last year, Waterfront staff doubled down on this commitment to sustainability with a rigorous evaluation of its own practices at the team’s office in the Braemar Hills Neighborhood. Edina’s Energy & Environment Commission (EEC) offered this team of seven the perfect pretext to do so.
“Mark Hegstrom, owner and partner of the Waterfront Financial Group, attended a golf event with Michelle Horan … who sits on the EEC,” Hansen shared. “Horan [told] Hegstrom about the City of Edina’s Green Business Outreach Program, and then followed up with us after the tournament.”
As the name suggests, the Green Business Outreach Program is an opt-in certification opportunity for Edina area businesses. Candidate businesses are asked to share basic data on their practices in the areas of recycling, solid waste prevention, energy use, purchasing, water conservation and employee transportation.
The EEC uses this information to tabulate a unique score for each applicant. Qualifying businesses are awarded bronze, silver or gold recognition status and permitted to publicize their new Green Business accreditation.
In order to qualify, most businesses must reassess and resolve to change long-standing habits. Hansen says that for Waterfront, one of the hardest shifts involved something small but close to her heart: coffee.
“I know it sounds trivial, but we were going through pods like water. We drink a lot of coffee around here. We took a step back and wondered how we could ‘green it up’ while still getting a good and fast cup of coffee. We bought a coffee maker that grinds the beans and we now refill pods. It’s easy and gives a much better tasting coffee, too.”
Waterfront likewise invested in a water cooler to reduce waste from single-use water bottles.
“We’ve cut back – way back – on paper, as well,” Hansen continued. “My advice is, before printing, remember to ask yourself if there’s a better way to do your task. If you can do it paperless and still achieve accuracy and efficiency, avoid printing.”
While commodities like coffee and paper – which employees use on a daily basis – are an excellent place to start, they are not the only consumer goods that have an environmental footprint. For example, the Green Business Outreach Program framework also accounts for proper disposal of office supplies ranging from light bulbs, to batteries, to printer cartridges.
In addition, Edina’s green businesses commit to using eco-friendly janitorial supplies, collecting organic waste separate from landfill-bound trash, and conducting periodic energy audits of their office space.
Waterfront Financial Group is proud of its new silver-level certification. The official Edina Green Business Outreach Program emblem now occupies a conspicuous position on the firm’s website.
“We like to proclaim our values, including ‘Community,’ and this gives us an actionable way to show that commitment,” Hansen said.