What might read as a daily to-do list for a hard-core eco-enthusiast are just a few criteria from a comprehensive list comprising Santa Monica’s new “Green Business Certification Program.” A partnership between the City of Santa Monica, Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau and Sustainable Works, the program supports and promotes the efforts of businesses to green their practices by incorporating energy efficiency and resource conservation techniques into their daily operations.
Just completing its pilot phase, the certification program provides local businesses with a detailed, yet easy to follow check list of sustainability measures, everything from energy-efficient lighting to environmentally friendly purchasing. Overseeing the process, Program Director Genevieve Bertone of Sustainable Works (a non-profit funded by the City of Santa Monica), works directly with business managers to help strategize about which measures to adopt, and how to most effectively implement these best practices.
After adopting a percentage of the recommended sustainable measures, businesses receive their green certification, which they will renew every two years. Additional PR benefits include a listing on the Convention & Visitors Bureau website, media recognition and a green stamp of approval – a decal sticker displayed in the storefront window – making participants’ efforts visible to shoppers. This is a Godsend for those of us plagued with consumer eco-guilt, that nagging feeling that each and every material purchase pushes us one step further towards total ecological collapse….
At least by shopping in certified green businesses, we can sleep a bit sounder knowing our local businesses are taking significant steps to lighten their “ecological footprint.”
To date, four local businesses have passed the green screen: Patagonia, The Library Alehouse, Co-opportunity, and Gladstein, Neandroos and Associates. These four pioneers participated in the program’s experimental pilot phase, helping coordinators at Sustainable Works refine the process and thereby make it smoother for future businesses to comply.
Curious to hear more about the experience of becoming certified, I pedaled on down to the Main Street Patagonia – a fine excuse to wander around a favorite store and daydream about future outdoor adventures. Store manager Bryan Hays spoke enthusiastically about the program, both the opportunity to further improve Patagonia’s already exemplary environmental performance, as well as its educational aspect. By following the green map laid out in the sustainable check list, Hays and his staff learned an array of new eco-friendly techniques, especially concerning energy efficient lighting. “This is an excellent program, a chance for us to continue learning and evolving,” he remarked.
Others will certainly follow – they have everything to gain, including profits. Just ask David Lackman, owner of the Library Alehouse on Main Street. After participating in Sustainable Works’ Business Greening Program – a free service helping local businesses become more resource efficient – the Library Alehouse saw monthly savings of hundreds of dollars. Clearly, going green makes cents….
Which is a key factor for the business community. Sustainability is steadily being embraced as a critical component of smart, successful commerce – saving companies money and time, conserving valuable resources, reducing waste and inefficiencies, and investing in the long-term health of our communities. In a city like Santa Monica, proactive steps such as these will not go unnoticed.
As residents, we can all do our part to recognize the efforts taken by responsible businesses: look for the certification logo, spread the word to favorite local stores, and let them know this matters.
For business owners ready to get on board, Sustainable Works is on hand to help green your bottom line: 310.458.8716. We’ll be here to applaud your efforts, green in hand.
TO DO LIST:
– Purchase water filter for sink instead of buying
– Convert at least 50 percent of all lighting fixtures to energy efficient alternatives: compact fluorescents, low voltage track lighting, halogen or high intensity discharge lighting
– Install a cistern or rain
barrel to catch rainwater