Two Opportunities to Go Green

From The Roslindale–West Roxbury Bulletin
October 1, 2009
by Vinaya Saksena

Parkway area businesses will have not one, but two opportunities to learn how to make their operations a little “greener” in the next few days.

On Friday, October 2nd, West Roxbury Main Streets will host a “Go Green” roundtable discussion. That will be followed on Monday, October 5 with a “Green Business Forum” hosted by West Roxbury Saves Energy.

The events feature some of the same key guests, and share some common purposes. However, the organizers maintained that their events offered some different features as well, and would be held at different times of day.

West Roxbury Main Streets will hold its event at the West on Centre Restaurant, located at 1732 Centre Street, from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. on Friday. West Roxbury Saves Energy, meanwhile, will hold its forum in the West Roxbury Branch Library Meeting Room, located at 1961 Centre Street, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Monday.

“What we (are doing) is providing information for the community that will help individuals and businesses save money while going green,” said Rickie Harvey, Chairwoman of the steering committee for West Roxbury Saves Energy. “This is our attempt to help them do this.”

West Roxbury Main Streets will be attempting to perform a similar task at its event on Friday, but in a way that is more specifically focused on helping local businesses through networking and information on tax incentives and grants for “green” expenditures. According to the group’s executive director, Joni Walter, they, like West Roxbury Saves Energy, will also be attempting to provide information that will encourage something seldom seen among neighborhood businesses: recycling.

“We thought it could be a great program for West Roxbury, because none of the businesses recycle,” Walter said. “So they could probably organize their waste better and recycle more.”

Walter said that West on Centre was the only business she knew of in the neighborhood that routinely recycled. Both she and Harvey noted that recycling bins are not distributed to businesses by the city, as they are for residents.

Both groups’ events will feature presentations by a representative of Save that Stuff, a waste management company that helps New England businesses recycle. Walter noted that it was through this company that West on Centre had been conducting its recycling efforts.

Other presenters at the West Roxbury Main Streets event will include: Frank Gorke, Director of the Division of Energy Efficiency at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; Peter Crowley, Acting Director of the non-profit Sustainable Business Leader Program (SBLP) and representatives of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s Renewable Energy Trust.

The West Roxbury Saves Energy event, meanwhile, will see Jim Hunt, Chief of Environmental and Energy Services discuss the Renew Boston Initiative, which Harvey said had been allotted $6.5 million in federal stimulus funds intended to assist small businesses financially in the process of going green. The group will also give out its first annual Green Business Awards. Harvey said that while her organization had initially been geared toward helping individual residents find environmentally friendly alternatives to products or services they used, the group’s unexpected success has made it feasible for them to assist local businesses as well.

“I thought it would be a much longer process- that we’d still be reaching out to residents. We don’t even mention business in our mission statement. However, it makes sense to reach out to them.”

One of the key factors in both groups’ efforts was making “green” alternatives financially feasible for small businesses. Harvey said that while the current economic downturn had definitely been felt locally, she felt the neighborhood had been somewhat lucky in this regard compared to other communities, which positioned West Roxbury well for green endeavors, and economic activity in general, in the near future.

“I think it’s a great community to be (working) in. There’s a lot going on, a lot of businesses opening up. It’s been a good year for 2009.”

Neither event has an advertised admission fee, although West Roxbury Main Streets has noted that space is limited for their event. More information on West Roxbury Main Streets can be found online at: www.wrms.org. The West Roxbury Saves Energy web site is located at: www.westroxburysavesenergy.org.

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