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Triangle Green Business Challenge's Rewarding Luncheon

Triangle Air AwarenessLast Friday, I attended the Triangle Green Business Challenge’s Appreciation and Awards Luncheon, and it was inspiring to hear comments from the speakers and the things participating organizations did as a result of taking the challenge.  The Challenge, organized and managed by the Triangle J Council of Governments, is open to businesses, non-profit organizations, local governments and public agencies of any size within our region who want to increase their levels of efficiency and sustainability while also improving employee health and that of the environment

Chris Carmody, Executive Director of Green Plus, the Institute for Sustainable Development and a program sponsor, had this to say about sustainability:  Sustainability is now thought of as competitiveness.  With the cost savings realized from improved levels of energy efficiency and decreased water consumption, for example, comes growth in a company’s bottom line.

Changes don’t have to be sweeping and grand in scale to make a difference.  Yalmaz Siddiqui, Senior Director of Sustainability of Office Depot, the national sponsor of the Green Business Challenge, commented on the impact on a company that a change in office products makes.  Switching to green office products does not make a large impact on a company’s carbon footprint, noted Siddiqui, but it does serve as a daily reminder to employees to make choices that are better for the environment.

I loved hearing about the new, sustainable practices this year’s 21 Challenge participants instituted and the lessons they learned in the process.  Those changes included:

  • Solar panel installation
  • Composting food scraps
  • Recycling education for staff
  • Low-flow faucet installation
  • Making recycling bins bigger and trash cans smaller
  • Creating smarter buildings
  • Teaching company environmental policy as a part of new employee training
  • Using reclaimed water to wash buses
  • Installing timers on lights
  • Establishing a scholarship program that works with a local school system “to provide practical experience for high school graduates who are going on to engineering in college or are ready to work in local businesses and organizations” (O.K.—for this one, I have to name names:  Triangle Ecycling’s E-Scholar Program.  Donating your e-waste helps fund this innovative program.)

In looking over the list of Challenge participants, you’ll see a lot of companies that sale or promote green services but didn’t have any official policy on sustainability, themselves.  For them, the Challenge opened their eyes to the irony of the situation and prompted them to act and articulate and document their policies and practices.

We all benefit when businesses and individuals take action to operate and live in a manner that is more sustainable.  In order to issue the Triangle Green Business Challenge next year, the Triangle J COG needs your support.  If your company or organization would like to lend a hand (and by “hand,” I really mean financial support), please contact Brennan Bouma:  bbouma@tjcog.org, (919) 558-2710.

Author: Elaine Loyack, Program Coordinator, Triangle Air Awareness

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