Montgomery County is celebrating the two year anniversary of the Green Business Certification Program, launched through a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) and Montgomery College. Thirty-five diverse organizations have been certified so far, including a bank, IT consultant, religious institution, beverage company, orthodontist, furniture company, international hotel chain, law firm, accounting firms, non-profit organizations, an architect, engineering firm and defense contractor.
The Green Business Certification Program helps County businesses by providing them with a “greenprint” for introducing sustainability into their day-to-day operations and supply chain decisions. Organizations that embrace green practices enhance environmental quality while promoting economic development.
“Montgomery County is doing its part to spark the transition to a sustainable and green future through the Green Business Certification Program,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. “Businesses are doing their part by pursuing the Green Business Certification -- and I thank these leaders for their vision. They recognize that from an economic standpoint, environmental stewardship and innovation are becoming key drivers of financial success. I hope their example will inspire many other organizations in the County to become certified green businesses.”
To be a certified green business, an organization must demonstrate its commitment to environmental stewardship, conservation of energy and water, carbon footprint reduction, waste reduction and recycling and environmentally responsible purchasing.
“We embrace sustainable business practices because they provide our members a competitive advantage,” said Gigi Godwin, President and CEO of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. “Moreover, companies recognize that aligning values, such as environmental stewardship, with business operations helps to reduce risk and attract and retain the best and the brightest. We are delighted to be a partner in the Green Business Certification Program.”
Montgomery College provides on-going courses to assist businesses in “going green” so they can get certified. While not required for certification, many businesses have found the courses to be extremely helpful in getting started.
“We understand that businesses are investing significant time in going green,” said Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President of Montgomery College. “Green Business Certification can also open up new business opportunities. The College helps to empower businesses by providing them with a clear path forward so that businesses taking our courses can pursue certification with confidence.”
Certified green businesses are recognized for their environmental stewardship, are listed in the County’s online Green Business Directory and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce website, have use of the program logo, benefit from various MCCC outreach efforts, and may be profiled on the County’s cable television programming. Previous programs have highlighted the efforts of Marriott International, Honest Tea, MCCC, Hallman Orthodontics, Reznick Group and Clean Currents.
Businesses and organizations can benefit from the Green Business Certification Program regardless of their size, sector or where they are in their sustainability journey. The reasons organizations have given for becoming certified include enhancing their marketing opportunities, distinguishing themselves from competitors, cutting waste, saving money or responding to employee and consumer demands. For certified green business profiles and testimonials, please see below.
For more information about the Green Business Certification Program, go to the website at http://mcgreenbiz.org/. For information about Montgomery College’s Green Business Certification Crash Course, as well as other sustainability courses, go to “Green Training Programs” in their Schedule of Noncredit Classes at http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/wdce/WDCE_Spring2012_Catalogue/flipviewerxpress.html
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Green Business Profiles and Testimonials
Below is a sample of the innovative steps certified green businesses and organizations are taking to reduce their ecological footprint and save money and testimonials from decision makers. For a comprehensive list of actions being taken by all the certified green businesses, see the Green Business Directory.
• “The best part of being a certified green business is knowing that you’re making a difference in the environment and the industry. By conserving and recycling our natural resources and encouraging other businesses to go green, we are ensuring our resources will be available for future generations. Going green should not be considered an ‘in thing to do at the moment.’ If you want to save our natural resources, you need to walk the walk and talk the talk.”
Hildegarde Sylla, President, AIS Engineering, Inc.
• "At All Eco Center, it is our business to be Green every day and help like minded families with sustainable products and renovations. The Green Business Certification reinforces our mission and lets the world know we lead by example."
Dave Taghipour, Founder and Owner, All Eco Center
• Berlin, Ramos & Co., PA has transitioned to a largely paperless environment by converting all paper files to electronic form and using electronic communications for almost all correspondence with clients. The firm has reduced its annual paper use by more than 233 trees, saving more than $5,000 a year. Because communications are electronic, employees can more easily telecommute. This has reduced the average in-office work week to 3.7 days per employee, saving an estimated 5,381 gallons of gasoline a year.
“Being a green business is essential in today’s world. It is exciting and refreshing to know that as an accounting firm we can do more than help our clients’ businesses with their finances; we can work together with our clients, coworkers, friends, and families to spread smart, environmental-friendly, and healthy habits.”
Emily Stovicek, Berlin, Ramos & Co., PA
• “Bethesda Green proudly received recognition as one of the first businesses and organizations to be certified by Montgomery County’s Green Business Certification Program in 2009. The certification process helped us to focus our attention on continuing improvement, to celebrate achievements accomplished, and to firmly establish our role as a model of sustainability for businesses and residents in the county.”
Ralph Smith, President of Smith Design/Construction, and Bethesda Green Board Member
• Calvert Investments, as part of a lease renewal, negotiated an agreement with its landlord to pursue LEED Existing Building Certification; specify that its janitorial service provider comply with Green Seal GS-37 standards; replace lighting with more efficient bulbs and fixtures; install photocells and/or motion sensors; install new Green Guard Certified carpeting; replace bathroom fixtures to achieve water use reductions; encourage tenants to take the Energy Star Pledge; and provide additional secure bicycle storage.
“Given that our core business is investing in sustainable and environmental companies, it is important that our own house is in order. The Certification Program helps us track many areas of the company where we can incorporate green products or habits. The certification process is great in and of itself.”
Elizabeth Le Vaca, Director of Corporate Communications, Calvert Investments
• Carbonfund.org Foundation has transformed itself into a virtual office. The organization estimates that it will annually reduce more than 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per employee as well as save thousands of dollars in expenses. With cloud servers, email, instant messaging, video-conferencing and Skype, Carbonfund maintains worker connectedness and access to internal documents. Carbonfund notes that staff has actually increased their work hours, since time spent on commuting has been eliminated.
“Being in the Green Business Certification Program means that we stand alongside other Montgomery County businesses that put sustainability at the forefront of operations and, as a group, we show the importance of green leadership in the business sector of our county.”
Alterra Hetzel, Corporate Relations Manager, Carbonfund.org Foundation
• Clean Currents has a green benefits package for employees including covering the costs associated with capital bikeshare and community supported agriculture (CSA) membership, a $100 a month out-of-pocket subsidy for Metro benefits; $1,000 a year incentive for riding a bike to work; discounted Zipcar membership; incentive to switch to green power at home or purchase renewable energy credits; incentives for employees to purchase home energy efficient computers and appliances; funding for membership in an environmental organization; and support for employees who choose to telecommute.
“As consumer interest in green products grows, it’s become increasingly important for companies to be able to verify that their green claims are legitimate and not just an attempt at marketing. Montgomery County’s Green Business Certification Program recognizes businesses that are committed to sustainability in their operations through a high standard third-party certification process – just what a business needs to differentiate their green operations from others in their field.”
Gary Skulnik, President & Co-Founder, Clean Currents
• Congregation Beth El reduced its trash by 60 percent by sponsoring “dumpster dives” to analyze the content and volume of their waste, hiring a compost hauler, installing compost bins in kitchens and at events, creating signage, using reusable kitchenware, creating an environmental checklist for outside caterers, hosting electronic waste recycling events and phasing out Styrofoam. The congregation hosts environmental speakers and workshops as well as community supported agriculture through weekly deliveries of local fruits and vegetables during the growing season. The Religious School runs a “Reduce Fuel To Shul” contest to promote walking, biking and carpools in exchange for eco-friendly prizes.
• Congressional Bank formed “Gang Green,” a team of associates who help generate and implement new green conservation efforts and run an employee contest offering cash rewards for the best green ideas. The bank provides continuous training and communication to keep staff focused on “green” operations and has a centrally located bulletin board dedicated to spreading the word about green news and initiatives. They provide free parking to employees that carpool, and encourage some of its staff to telecommute or flex their schedules. The bank’s two Montgomery County branches use 100 percent wind energy and the company has established environmentally responsible purchasing guidelines. The bank is proactively seeking to expand its lending portfolio to include more companies that provide green products and services and/or embrace sustainability practices.
“Earning our Green Business Certification is changing how we do business not just in our day-to-day operations but also among our clients. We’re expanding our lending portfolio to grow relationships with businesses that share our conservation values – those that provide green products or services or are implementing ways to improve their environmental stewardship. That shared commitment takes our partnerships in a new direction that feels really great for us and for our customers.”
John Lane, President and CEO, Congressional Bank
• Goodwill Industries International has decreased its energy use by 17.5 percent during a time when staff grew by 34 percent. Based on a high-level, ASHRAE Level 1, energy audit, the organization instituted changes ranging from installing energy efficient overhead lighting, occupancy sensors and shades in southern-facing windows, to posting signs encouraging staff to turn off lights. A more comprehensive ASHRAE Level 3 audit led to additional changes such as installing photocell sensors and automated off-hour temperature controls, reducing extraneous emergency lighting and removing lights in over-lit areas. Goodwill® also entered into a two-year fixed cost contract for the purchase of 100 percent wind power. This change led to an estimated savings of more than $8,000 annually and is the equivalent of avoiding an estimated 678 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions or taking 133 passenger vehicles off the road per year, according to the EPA’s GHG Calculator.
“For more than a century, Goodwill® has been an entrepreneurial leader and environmental pioneer. Goodwill is ranked amongst leading organizations across the United States and in industry sectors for its leadership in reducing its carbon footprint by reducing the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use. We have taken steps at our headquarters in Rockville, MD to decrease our energy consumption and reduce the risk of climate change through green power purchasing. We will continue to place an emphasis on sustainable building and operations practices.”
Jim Gibbons, President and CEO, Goodwill Industries International
• Honest Tea designed its headquarters with sustainable elements including bamboo floors, reclaimed brick, windows that open, recycled glass and concrete kitchen counters, CFL lighting, used furniture, and showers so employees can bike or run to work. The kitchen includes a compost bucket for food scraps and a battery and plastic bag recycling station. Honest Tea’s products are USDA certified organic and they have committed to using only fair trade certified tea. In 2009, Honest Tea introduced a new plastic bottle that is 22 percent lighter than comparable packages, a change that helped reduce full truck weights by 600 pounds. The company has partnered with TerraCycle to launch the Honest Kids Pouch Brigade as a way to divert drink pouches from landfills. Honest Tea is a co-founder of Bethesda Green, a local sustainability initiative, and partnered with them to install recycling bins throughout downtown Bethesda, as well as to create Maryland’s first green business incubator.
“As an organic beverage company, Honest Tea is engaged in sustainability efforts on a daily basis, but the application process for Montgomery County’s Green Business Certification gave us a chance to review our company operations through a more expansive lens.”
Seth Goldman, President and TeaEO, Honest Tea
• Marriott International saved about $100,000 a year in night-time lighting energy costs at their office headquarters by moving the cleaning crew shift from evening to daytime. Energy efficient lighting yields another $155,000 in electricity cost savings. The company also recycles 75 percent of its waste. They achieved this by eliminating the standard seven gallon trash cans from all workstations, replacing them with a recycling bin and a very small trash receptacle which hangs from the rim outside the recycling bin.
“Being certified as one of Montgomery County’s Green Businesses creates a sense of duty and accountability in our organization; we are always looking for ways to continuously improve. We are currently engaged in an extensive lighting retrofit using new LED bulbs and our employees are enthusiastically supportive.”
Jim Young, VP Corporate Facilities and Real Estate, Marriott International
• “The Chamber was energized by its Green Business Certification to turn off the lights, eliminate water bottles and reduce paper usage. Best of all, we host over 150 meetings in our office each year and our guests experience ways to be green.”
Gigi Godwin, CEO & President, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
• “Here at Radius Technology Group we strive to make things as easy for our clients and employees as possible and going through the process of becoming a green certified business in Montgomery County has assisted with streamlining our business processes. We have taken a paperless approach to most aspects of our work to eliminate the need for unnecessary printing and copying. All of our invoicing, contract and personnel reporting is done electronically. In addition, our new website is a great electronic source for our clients, employees and potential business partners to learn more about who we are and what we do.”
Nikeisha Henry, Operations Manager, Radius Technology Group
• “Being part of the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program has generated goodwill among Reznick Group’s most valued assets – our employees. Our employees are enthusiastic participants in recycling and energy efficiency, and they are a great source of innovative ideas that contribute to our green bottom line.”
Jim Martinko, Co-Office Managing Partner, Reznick Group’s Bethesda office
• “Shulman Rogers is proud to be one of the first Green Certified Businesses in Montgomery County. Doing what’s right for the community is very important to everyone at Shulman Rogers, and our Going Green Committee makes sure that the firm and our employees are doing our best to be environmentally conscious both inside and outside the office.”
Don Rogers, Shareholder, Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.
• “Being a certified Montgomery County Green Business has given us a very real sense of ‘walking the talk.’ We have always been an active member of our community, advocating involvement by our staff in our work and home communities. Going through the process of certification helped us incorporate our beliefs into real actions – involving both our staff and our clients. Recently, we instituted e-invoicing as our latest form of e-communication with our clients. The time and resources we have saved in the process make us more efficient. But even more important than that is the knowledge that every step, every action we take together – especially in partnership with our clients -- has a cumulative effect on sustaining our environment.”
Eddie Snyder, Chairman, Snyder Cohn
• “We gained a lot of awareness by participating in the Montgomery County Green Business Certification process, and we continue to use this knowledge to guide corporate decisions. Over time, we’ve also noticed how well these sustainability efforts support our core values of improving public health, giving back to the community, and attracting exceptional employee-owners.”
James J. Lynch, PhD, President and CEO, Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.
• URS is developing an interactive, internal online system that will allow employees to identify and contact colleagues for carpooling opportunities. Water usage in the building was reduced by 40 percent using low-flow and motion-activated faucets, efficient toilets and waterless urinals. Their cleaning contractor is Green Seal Certified; their property management company uses reduced-mercury overhead lighting and provides bicycle racks and hybrid vehicle parking spaces in the office park. Recycling areas are located throughout the office for office paper, mixed paper, bottles, and cans, and a special collection area was established by the building manager for cell phones, batteries and light bulbs. Employees are encouraged to bring e-waste from home each year on Earth Day to be recycled by the building management.
“Becoming a Certified Green Business in Montgomery County has helped our office to conserve resources while demonstrating to our clients that we can do more than recommend greening programs, we can implement them as well.”
Ed Hagarty, Program Development Manager, URS’ Germantown Office
• “Everyone – from small businesses to large corporations – has an obligation to do their part to preserve the world’s natural resources. Montgomery County helps to provide a roadmap with the Green Business Certification Program. The Wildlife Habitat Council is honored and pleased to be certified by this great program.”
Robert Johnson, President, Wildlife Habitat Council
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