Businesses Can Go Green to Save Green

By Rickie Harvey
As published in The West Roxbury Transcript
Thursday, October 22, 2009

West Roxbury Saves Energy presented its first Green Business Forum earlier this month for local business owners. Given the downturn in the economy and the concomitant struggles that small businesses face, it made sense to focus the event on offering information about energy-efficiency programs that help businesses save money.

NSTAR’s program manager, Augustine Pimentel, spoke at the forum about NSTAR’s Small Business Solutions cost-cutting measures. The first step entails a free energy audit to identify energy-saving opportunities. The program can pay up to 70 percent of the total cost of retrofitting qualifying systems. Many of the owners attending the forum were familiar with NSTAR’s Small Business Solutions and some of its details, and the remaining attendees signed up for a free audit that night.

Recycling waste instead of disposing of it offers another excellent means of saving money for small businesses. Adam Mitchell, co-owner of the waste management company Save That Stuff, gave a PowerPoint presentation about the services available to small businesses and how the push toward achieving “zero waste,” or at least drastically reducing waste, is the surest way to save dollars on disposal. Save That Stuff also offers a free audit for businesses, this one to assess your business’s existing waste removal and recycling system — a great way to find out exactly how much money recycling more can save. Several local businesses, including West on Centre Restaurant, as well as the Roxbury Latin School, currently use Save That Stuff’s services for their waste management.

The third speaker of the forum, the chief of Boston’s Office of Environmental and Energy Services, Jim Hunt, focused on the city’s recently conceived initiative called Renew Boston. This emerging program will establish a small-business incentive program using a portion of the $6.5 million in stimulus funds Boston is receiving from the federal government. It will provide the city’s small businesses with financial resources to become more energy efficient while also reducing energy costs. Because the details of this initiative are still being determined, this is a good time to offer suggestions on implementing and focusing the program. As a member of the Renew Boston Advisory Committee, I welcome thoughts and ideas from our business community and residents and will be pleased to serve as a conduit for putting them forward.

The evening concluded with the presentation of the first WRSE Green Business Awards. Eleanor and Joe Greene accepted an award “in recognition of outstanding recycling efforts and on-site organic gardening” for West on Centre Restaurant. As pointed out by WRSE Steering Committee member Gretchen O’Neill during the presentation, WRSE recognized West not just for the business’s own recycling, but also for its strong advocacy of recycling throughout West Roxbury and the generous donation of its services toward this end. And in addition to creating their own herb garden, Joe and Eleanor Greene were also commended for their support of using local produce.

Gary’s Liquors received an award “in recognition of outstanding energy-saving renovations and practices” and, in particular, for being an early adaptor of energy efficiency with an eye toward future generations; Gary Park, owner, was on hand to accept the award.

As at the forum, we encourage business owners to get in touch with WRSE and offer suggestions about how we could be of help in the future and what kinds of programs they would like to see us present going forward. WRSE is pleased to have a dialogue with the local business community started.