Green Plus Targets Small Business Sustainability Gains
“In an economy where only the strong survive, the City of Cleveland is providing opportunities for small businesses and nonprofit organizations that adopt sustainable business practices not only to survive but to prosper.
Among these opportunities is Green Plus, brought to Cleveland by COSE (Council of Smaller Enterprises). Green Plus provides small businesses with the educational and networking tools to integrate sustainability into their practices and policies.
Supported by a grant from The Generation Foundation, Green Plus is also a national platform for recognizing smaller enterprises who are committed to sustainability and have become Green Plus Certified or have achieved Green Plus Mover status.
“Cleveland’s effort to reward companies for triple bottom line sustainability – good business, environmental, employee and community practices – is groundbreaking,” said Chris Carmody, Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development, the nonprofit that houses the Green Plus program.
“In a sustainable economy, ‘green’ jobs won’t only come from clean energy or energy efficient businesses – they’ll also be created by Main Street businesses becoming more competitive through sustainable practices,” Carmody continued. “The City of Cleveland is providing an economic incentive for regional businesses to improve not only their bottom line, but their triple bottom line,” he concluded.
In creating a first-of-its-kind procurement policy, Cleveland is giving discounts similar to those of minority and female owned certified business (MBE and FBE) to local and sustainable businesses when bidding on city contracts. Organizations that are certified receive a 4% discount on city bids.
Not only does the procurement policy directly reward small businesses that implement sustainability, the discount can be added to discounts for MBE and FBE certified businesses giving them more leverage when bidding on Cleveland’s contracts.
COSE was recently awarded a grant by the Ohio Department of Development to provide partial scholarships for 75 businesses as well as $250 towards a professional energy audit and access to resources to help businesses become more energy efficient.
COSE also commissioned the Institute for Sustainable Development to create an Energy Efficiency Guide for Small Businesses. Smaller enterprises can be uniquely served by energy efficiency because their margins are often tighter. Consistently saving 10-30% off their utility bills allows them to put more back into running their business.
The first company in Northeast Ohio to become Green Plus certified was The Taylor Companies. With the assistance of recycling consultants, Taylor diverts more than 90% of the waste generated by its Bedford plant.
“Sustainability is a business opportunity,” said Jeff Baldassari, President and CEO. “When we built our new plant, we hired energy-efficiency experts to conduct an energy audit in an effort to find additional ways to become eco-friendly by reducing the consumption of natural resources. We cut our energy consumption of natural gas, electricity and water by 58.8%. In addition to Green Plus, partners in this effort are Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, Zero Waste NEO and Corporate Sustainability Network.”
“Sustainability may seem like a foreign concept to many, but it is really about getting back to the business basics,” said Generation Foundation President Glenn R. Brown. “This is true for a three-person cleaning company, a 70-person manufacturing plant, or a 2,000-person insurance company. Sustainability knows no boundaries and can be integrated by businesses in any industry and by business owners from any background.”