Mary Campbell, Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent, Pinellas County Extension
Pinellas County and the University of Florida Extension Service have partnered to launch a new program that offers a green designation for local businesses. The Green Business Partnership designation uses a voluntary assessment of business operations that encourages conservation of natural resources, waste reduction and energy conservation. The good news for local businesses is money saved through going green.
Local businesses have embraced the concept of green practices, recognizing the benefits for cost savings on energy, reduced water use and waste reductions. “Being green” makes good business sense. Businesses can attract customers that appreciate the extra effort to reduce environmental impacts.
To learn more about this new designation, sign up for a Webinar on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Mary Campbell, director of the Pinellas County Extension and Urban Sustainability Agent, will explain the criteria of the program, and provide an easy overview of how to complete the assessment and become a “Green Business Partner” in Pinellas County. Beginning at 12:30 p.m., the hour program is offered on-line, and participants use their own computers. Cost for the program is $15.00. Follow-up for businesses seeking the designation will be provided.
Just what is a “green business”? A green business employs practices to reduce waste, save resources and promote sustainable practices. It often is as simple as having a recycling program, bringing hazardous materials to an approved facility for disposal and reducing water consumption with low flow toilets. Businesses can pick the practices that save the most money and are the most cost effective to implement to customize the program to fit their needs. Extension staff provides guidance and training to help each business reach their goal.
After completing the self-evaluation checklist available on the Extension website, Pinellas County staff will provide support to implement many green practices and help maximize the ability of businesses to operate in a sustainable way. When all criteria that are applicable are implemented, the Green Business Partnership will be awarded and the business will be eligible to use the Green Business Partnership logo provided. This badge of honor can serve to highlight green business practices to those customers that would choose a green business among competitors.
There are several key areas of focus for the green business designation and these include general business policies, energy conservation, waste reduction and water conservation. The designation requires a business commit to developing practices that promote awareness of green practices within the company through employee training and company policies. Pinellas County Utilities will provide a waste assessment and review of hazardous waste disposal practices. Recycling can reduce waste disposal costs through a net reduction in disposal costs. Recycling saves natural resources, energy and water. Buying in bulk can reduce packaging waste and reduce costs. Green purchasing reduces exposure to harmful chemicals and makes healthier work environments. Savings are also achieved through more efficient inventory control and storage.
As energy costs escalate, businesses are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption. Progress Energy offers a business energy audit as part of the designation and some businesses are able to reduce energy consumption by 20% through the implementation of specific strategy. Lighting and heating and cooling systems can be made more energy efficient, which saves money. Energy Star certified computers and other equipment provide a third party certification for energy efficiency.
As a Green Business Partner, participants will have access to professional advice and training, listing on the Green Business Partner website and special recognition by Pinellas County.
For more information on the Partnership program, visit http://www.pinellascountyextension.org/, and go to the on-line registration to sign up for the Webinar (register before Dec. 14). Call Mary Campbell at 727-582-2100 for more information.