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San Francisco's Hanson Bridgett became a certified green business a few months ago. The process took about a year, and the law firm has had to change the way it did some things.

Many came down to basic human behavior, like convincing people they really didn't need to print that memo or drink water from a plastic throw away bottle. But in other cases, the company had to work closely with building management to fix other things like changing that toilet that seemed to take forever to flush.

Rachel Patterson is Hanson Bridgett's administrative services manager. I recently caught up with Rachel to talk about the experience, as well as a surprise she came across along the way.

Tilde Herrera: Hey, Rachel. Thank you for joining me today.

Rachel Patterson: Thank you.

TH: Well, first of all, why did Hanson Bridgett decide that green certification was the way to go?

RP: Well, first of all, it's kind of the right thing to do. It's kind of the trend everyone's heading towards. The environment is first and foremost on everyone's mind and businesses are basically just a collection of individuals, and I think especially in the Bay Area people are very environmentally aware. And if you can get more power with a collective, as in a business, I think that makes a big difference.

And Hanson Bridgett's always been very community oriented. We definitely encourage our staff to get involved in whatever cause that they believe in and that moves them. There are definitely some people in our firm that believe in the environment. And also, we hope it brings in more business because of other like-minded businesses that are interested in working with green companies.

TH: Now can you take us through the process?

RP: Sure, it was a long process for us. Oh, good heavens. We started over a year before we got certified. It was actually started by our business practice group. They said, 'Hey, there's this certification. It would be great and we would really like to get going on that." So we started and when you get the form, which is pretty big and extensive, you start looking at it and saying, 'Wow, there's a lot of stuff you have to do here.'

It's really important that you get involved with your building management and you work with them. We had several, several meetings where we sat down with building management and we all just went over the checklist. They answered some of the questions that we didn't necessarily have answers for, and then we kind of asked them, "Well, O.K., if we implemented this, is this something this building can support?" Those sort of situations.

And then once you finally go back and forth and make the changes that you can, then you submit the form. You're just waiting now for S.F. Environment. There are five departments that come through and they check to make sure that you're actually doing the things that are on your checklist.

And the great thing about S.F. Environment was that they would come in and if they felt like, 'Oh, you know what? This isn't exactly what we'd like to see, so go ahead and do this and then once you've corrected that, just call us and let us know, and either we'll come back and check it out or we'll just take your word for it that you've taken care of it.'

And so there were a couple of things like when the water person came through and had to go check all the sinks and all the toilets, there was this one toilet that was just flushing for a very long time that nobody ever paid attention to or knew. And so then we had to have the building come up and see what they can do to fix that. And so once we got it fixed, they said, 'O.K. Great. Thank you.'

TH: Can you give us some examples of specific things that your company had to do in order to comply with the certification standards?