GBENN Member Update: Charlottesville Climate Collaborative Awards for Climate Leadership

Charlottesville Climate Collaborative 2018-2019 Better Business Challenge Announces Awards for Climate Leadership

The Charlottesville Climate Collaborative hosted the 2018-2019 Better Business Challenge Awards Night tonight at the Paramount Theater culminating a yearlong collective effort that brought nearly 100 local businesses and nonprofits together to reduce their climate impacts.

These organizations have demonstrated a level of climate leadership that proves local businesses can do good while being profitable. Collectively participants took over 500 actions, that will save them over half a million dollars annually on energy costs and avoid 4,260 metric tons of CO2 which is equal to the CO2 emissions from 743 homes’ electricity use!

2019 AWARD WINNERS

2019 Better Business Champions Earned the most total points from taking actions on the Energy Scorecard (ordered large to small-size organizations). Listed below are one action of many that each winner completed.

  • Albemarle County Public Schools – Completed large-scale energy and water efficiency upgrades that will save $720,000 annually.
  • Southern Environmental Law Center – Inspired numerous sustainability initiatives across eight offices in six states.
  • Peabody School – Students wrote speeches and presented their climate call to action at the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting.
  • Sun Tribe Solar – Launched a bike-to-work incentive program for employees.
  • Peace Lutheran Church – Energy and lighting assessments helped the Care of Creation team prioritize energy savings at their facility.
  • High Tor Gear Exchange – Used their A/C condensation to water the plants in their storefront while they pursue “B-corporation” status (legal business model structured around social benefit rather than profits).

Kilowatt Crackdown Winner Recognizes the largest reduction in electricity based on comparison of utility bills from 2018 to 2019.

  • Peabody School – Cut their electricity use by 44% with solar panel installation and LED lighting upgrade.

Top Innovator Award Business that stands out for overcoming a significant challenge resulting in a positive environmental impact.

  • WorldStrides – Worked closely with vendors, tour guides, and hotels to incorporate a recycling program for 37,000+ box meals delivered to ~150,000 D.C. student trip-goers.

Industry Leader Award Implemented a transformative action that has the potential to lead an industry forward.

  • Indoor Biotechnologies – Replaced non-recyclable Styrofoam containers to temperature controlled VeriCool containers that use 100% recyclable and biodegradable material.

Lasting Changemaker Award Instituted an environmental action that will have a lasting impact.

  • VMDO Architects – 50% energy reduction in the buildings they designed in 2018 helping to meet the AIA 2030 net-zero building challenge.

Challenge Mini-grant Winners Income-qualifying Charlottesville city business owners received energy efficient goods and/or services (listed) totaling $3,000.00.

  • Pie Guy – Lighting upgrade and electrical switch replacement to decrease heating and cooling costs in their kitchen.
  • Sealed with a Kiss – Lighting upgrade in retail bridal attire store.
  • LG’s Elixir – Energy Star dishwasher/sanitizer and signage for drink bottle recycling program.
  • Jackson 2 Hair Salon – LED lighting upgrade at salon.

Background
The Better Business Challenge is an initiative led by the Charlottesville Climate Collaborative a local nonprofit organization in partnership with LEAP, Better World Betty, City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Chamber of Commerce, UVA Office of Sustainability, and 2RW Consultants.

93 participants including Hantzmon Wiebel, UVA Research Park, Firefly Restaurant, The Haven, Worldstrides, The Miller School, and Kardinal Hall joined to examine their energy use, find ways to reduce their consumption and innovate in other ways to be a more sustainable business. Participants racked up as many points as possible before submitting their final scorecards on May 15, 2019.

Awards Night Sponsors include CMA’s Colonial Nissan, Sun Tribe Solar, City of Charlottesville, County of Albemarle, Apex Clean Energy, Sigora Solar, Harvest Moon Catering, VMDO Architects, CFA Institute, and the Blue Ridge Group.

What people have said about the 2018-2019 Better Business Challenge:
“The Better Business Challenge provides the perfect environment for Charlottesville businesses to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. This collective effort helps set the Charlottesville business community apart as a place that values more than the traditional bottom line.” — Chris Engel, Director of Economic Development, City of Charlottesville

“The Better Business Challenge is successful because it equips businesses with the knowledge and skills necessary to properly consider climate impacts – it enables companies to innovate while remaining focused on their core business. That’s a win-win for the community.” —Roger Johnson, Director of Economic Development, County of Albemarle

“The Challenge inspires our employees and company to find ways, even if small, to advance our sustainability efforts while creating new habits and standards for our operations.” —Taylor Cope, Operations Manager, Indoor Biotechnologies

“We are making the Earth more of a priority in our choices and habits at school. This Challenge started this movement.” —Amy Lastinger, Environmental Science Teacher 4th/ 5th Grade, Peabody School

Website: http://cvillebizchallenge.org/events
Email: info@cvillebizchallenge.org
Twitter: @CvilleBetterBiz
Instagram: @cvilleclimate
Facebook: Charlottesville Better Business Challenge
PRESS CONTACT: Teri Kent, Director of Programs and Communication, Charlottesville Climate Collaborative, at (434) 466-5157.

GBENN Member Feature: EnviroStars – Seattle, WA

EnviroStars is a one-stop-shop for Washington businesses to learn, get help, and get recognized for protecting the environment and public health. The program unifies green business initiatives in the region and across all environmental areas—including energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, and the reduction of toxics, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The original EnviroStars program began 20 years ago as a part of the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, giving incentives and recognition to small businesses for reducing hazardous waste.

In 2015, twenty-two agencies from around Western Washington, including cities, counties, water, waste and energy utilities, pooled resources to develop and re-launch the program. The new multi-jurisdiction program is leveraging the successful EnviroStars brand to expand its environmental focus and geographic reach. The vision is for EnviroStars to become a statewide hub and “one stop shop” for businesses to find resources to implement sustainability throughout their operations.

The program uses the GreenBizTracker web platform used by other GBENN members. We offer three tiers of recognition, with increasing business benefits for businesses that complete more actions, get more points, and achieve higher tier levels.

In the Spring of 2019 we conducted a series of qualitative and quantitative interviews—with both participants and non-participants that had heard about the program or started an application but didn’t submit it—to understand the perceived barriers and benefits businesses associated with the EnviroStars program and the application process. Through this research, we sought to understand how to maximize business engagement and positive environmental impact and meet businesses where they’re at on the sustainability spectrum.

Key themes from these interviews (which we mostly knew but needed to hear again) were that businesses:

  • Want information on new sustainable actions to take! Yay!
  • Want specific resources and tools to adopt these additional green business practices. They want turnkey solutions to implement new measures.
  • Need to clearly see the value of the recognition. Is the recognition or certification brand visible in the community? What other benefits can we offer?
  • Needed onsite support to complete their application. They are busy! We made three follow up contact attempts before we moved applications to the non-responsive status. They wanted six.
  • Felt our program standards were too stringent. They felt we included too many actions overall, and that some of our required actions were tough to implement. They didn’t like seeing an upload button next to every measure, even if we communicated that we only wanted documentation for select measures.
  • Felt the web platform and printed checklists were tough to navigate. The three-tier structure in the web platform and the separation of measures by audit and audit subgroup meant you needed a lot of clicks to get through the checklist and they felt the overall navigation was too cumbersome. The structure of the printed version of the checklists available in the web platform made them too long. Businesses were overwhelmed. Only a third of businesses that began the registration process submitted a completed checklist.

When creating our program standards, our member agencies wanted to maintain a credible program and connect businesses to a large range of local green business resources by offering many checklist measures. But if businesses are scared away at first site of the checklist, we are not getting the environmental impact and connection to our resources that we are aiming for.

This barriers and motivators research revealed that we needed to refine and streamline checklists and the application process for us to grow our program. The EnviroStars program made sweeping changes to the overall application standards and checklists, including:

  • Shortening and simplifying measure language.
  • Providing links to order direct implementation resources, such as free recycling signage, faucet aerators, and spill kits.
  • Reducing minimum requirements to broaden access and connect businesses to a smaller set of actions most important to our participating agencies.
  • Creating formatted, short, print-friendly versions of the checklists so staff are equipped to complete checklist applications onsite with interested businesses.
  • Creating a master checklist with information for all three tier levels and using point thresholds to trigger completion of different tiers.

These updates seek to remove barriers and expand accessibility of the EnviroStars program. Engaging a broader set of businesses will help expand our reach and impact. We feel excited that with these checklist updates we’ll continue to build our network of sustainable businesses in Washington State. Stay tuned for more updates in late summer 2019!

For more information on the EnviroStars program, click here!

GBENN Website will be Live in April

Save the Date - GBENN Summit 2016

The Green Business Engagement National Network (GBENN) has announced the date for its second national Summit of green business programs that will take place on October 19-20th, 2016 hosted by and at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Stay tuned for more information about the summit and GBENN.

For inquiries regarding the summit, email: summit@gbenn.org.

For general inquiries regarding GBENN, email info@gbenn.org.