Institute Awards Green Plus Prizes to Three Chambers of Commerce for Sustainability Leadership


St Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association wins Green Plus Special Mention AwardSyracuse earns kudos for sustainable economic development, Cleveland for member support, and St. Louis for national effort to help chambers themselves

In its annual Green Plus North American Sustainable Enterprise Awards, the Institute for Sustainable Development recognized three chambers of commerce for their leadership efforts to help the nation, their regions, and their members understand and benefit from the relationship between economic competitiveness and sustainable business practices.

2010 Green Plus Chamber of Commerce Winners include

  • The Syracuse Chamber of Commerce created The Clean Tech Center, a clean energy business incubator, to catalyze economic development in its region

In addition, the Institute’s selection committee voted to create a special Green Plus Innovation Award to recognize the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce for its leadership in the creation of the Climate Prosperity Project, a national effort to help chambers around the nation understand how conservation, efficiency and innovation can catalyze job creation.

Greater Cleveland Partnership / Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE): 2010 Green Plus Chamber of Commerce of the Year

“COSE and GCP are pleased to share the spotlight as Chamber of the Year with the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce! And congratulations to our very own Cleveland based company, The Taylor Companies for winning the Green Plus People’s Choice awards,” said Steve Millard, President & Executive Director of the Council on Smaller Enterprises. “This award challenges us to continue driving efforts to create a more sustainable regional economy and aide small business members to embrace sustainability,” Millard continued. “It’s one step at a time, and any small business or chamber of commerce can do it: Cleveland continues to advance as a Green City on a Blue Lake,” Millard concluded.

COSE is one of Ohio’s largest small business support organizations, striving to help small businesses grow and maintain their independence. For more than ten years, COSE has been a provider of electricity and natural gas savings options to small and mid-sized businesses.  Participants in the COSE Natural Gas program through Integrys can sign up at no additional cost for Ecovations, a renewable gas option.

COSE has been designated as an Administrator in First Energy’s Energy Efficiency Collaborative which provides a unique position to design and implement a variety of energy efficiency and demand side management initiatives to improve the way small businesses operate going forward.  COSE’s role in the Collaborative translates to extensive experience in small business energy efficiency programs, including energy audits of mercantile customers and a host of energy-saving initiatives for COSE members.

Currently, COSE  has a limited special scholarship for its members spending under $150,000 a year on energy. The scholarship and related benefits include:

1. $250 towards the cost of a comprehensive, professional energy audit

2. A $150 scholarship towards Green PlusTM

3. Educational resources through COSE and its local Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

4  Access to banks that offer financing for energy improvements

5. Online tools from State and Federal agencies to help smaller enterprises track their sustainability and energy efficiency

Syracuse Chamber of Commerce: 2010 Green Plus Chamber of Commerce of the Year

The Syracuse Chamber of Commerce was at the core of organizing a regional innovation cluster that has gained international recognition for its efforts to build a comprehensive and connected infrastructure to support the development of renewable and clean energy companies, and help existing companies advance energy and climate change initiatives to support sustainability.   The Chamber was instrumental in organizing a nearly 200 member ‘green’ consortium of education, industry, government, investor and small business leaders to develop a regional strategy around green innovation, and worked with the New York State Energy Research Development Authority to create The Clean Tech Center at The Tech Garden – a clean energy incubator to accelerate the launch of renewable energy businesses and technologies.  In addition, the Chamber hosts a regular calendar of ‘Green Business Development’ Days for members, in partnership with the NYS Small Business Development Center and the U.S. Small Business Administration.   More than 100 companies have already been served in the first year of the program.  The Chamber hosts an annual Green Business Showcase, which is the largest event of its kind in the northeast, with more than 7,000 annual attendees, and this year also launched a student ‘Green Innovation Exposition’ to engage young entrepreneurs in idea formation around green business concepts.  Finally, the Chamber is an active partner with New York State policy makers and has had a hand in helping to shape some of the most ambitious statewide clean energy programs and sustainability goals in the nation.

The Clean Tech Center’s blog/news site: has become one of the most widely consulted central clearinghouses of information on sustainability news and issues in New York State – with readers in more than 60 countries.  The Chamber’s efforts were recently recognized by Sustainable World Capital in the Cleantech Group’s February 2010 report for creating one of the ‘top ten clean tech cluster organizations in the world.’  According to an independent study by the Battelle Group, there are more than 400 clean tech businesses, employing more than 10,000, in the region – evidence of strategic growth in this sector.

Greater St. Louis Chamber of Commerce: Green Plus Special Recognition for Innovation

“The RCGA is pleased to be honored with this national award,” said RCGA President and Chief Executive Office Richard C.D. Fleming. “Even in its early stages, the Climate Prosperity Project is positioning the St. Louis region to join our civic colleagues in Silicon Valley, Portland, and Denver to demonstrate that economic development and responding to climate change challenges and opportunities are not mutually exclusive,? noted Fleming.  “It’s all part of our region’s overall effort to be viewed as a ‘location of choice’ for business entrepreneurship, expansion, relocation and talent,” Fleming concluded.

The RCGA leads the St. Louis Climate Prosperity Projectwhich envisions a greenbelt economy through green savings, green opportunities and green talent.  The Project features the Green Business Challenge, the St. Louis Green Economy Profile and the St. Louis Green Talent Strategy. The RCGA initiated the St. Louis Green Business Challenge to encourage members to adopt sustainable business practices. To identify opportunities in the green economy, the RCGA commissioned a study by Collaborative Economics, the nation’s leading green jobs research firm. The St. Louis Green Economy Profile has launched a discussion of the region’s strengths, specialization, and innovation in the core green economy. The Green Talent Strategy is a collaboration of the RCGA and the Workforce Investment Board to engage local employers, educational institutions, and job training providers to align the region’s green workforce.

Sixty-two organizations participate in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge which helps companies improve their sustainability and make St. Louis a greener region.  The Challenge uses a scorecard to assist green teams which develop outreach, energy, indoor environmental quality, waste, water and transportation action plans.  The RCGA partners with the Missouri Botanical Garden to provide technical consulting and site visits.

Launched in January 2010, the Challenge has already achieved reductions in energy usage at participating companies.  The scorecard has stimulated companies to adopt recycling programs, enforce no-idling loading docks, and encouraged transit and carpooling.

The RCGA and U.S. Green Building Council led the High Performance Building Initiative.  The goal is to ‘green every building in St. Louis.’  The seminar series included addresses by U.S. Representative Russ Carnahan, Chair of the Congressional High Performance Building Caucus, a case study on the economic and social value of high performing buildings, and a detailed presentation on financing options of green buildings at the federal, state, and local levels.   Over 300 business leaders, construction firms, and designers participated.  Plans are underway for the next series of these popular seminars.

The Green Plus North American Sustainable Enterprise Awards / Green Plus Chamber of the Year Awards

The field of chambers considered for the prize was formed through individual chamber nominations and by considering the work of Partners for Livable Communities — a non-profit leadership organization working to improve the livability of communities by promoting quality of life, economic development, and social equity. Since its founding in 1977, Partners has helped communities set a common vision for the future, discover and use new resources for community and economic development, and build public/private coalitions to further their goals. Recently, PLC published its second volume of case studies of best practices among chambers of commerce in sustainability leadership, “The Dollars and Sense of Business: Chambers of Commerce as the New Champions of a Green Economy“.

The mission of the Institute for Sustainable Development is to democratize triple bottom line sustainability by making it accessible to smaller employers and their communities, fostering a new generation of sustainability leaders, and developing a common understanding of sustainability principles across cultures. Green Plus is the Institute’s program to provide affordable education, networking, and recognition to smaller enterprises interested in pursuing triple bottom line sustainability practices in People, Planet and Performance. Through Green Plus, the Institute offers online and in-person small business education through its Sustainability Fellows, a national business-to-business network for mentorship and business opportunities, and brand support for those businesses that earn Certified Green Plus status.

The Institute partners with the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) as the key channel to market to offer Green Plus to regional chambers of commerce. ACCE’s mission is to support and develop chamber professionals to lead businesses and their communities. The organizational vision is that ACCE is the organization of choice for chamber professionals. ACCE currently has over 7,800 professional members in 1,400 chambers of commerce, which in turn represent over 1.2 million small business members. These professionals represent local, regional, and state chambers of commerce of all sizes across the United States and Canada.

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