The 2014 Sustainable Enterprise Awards Winners are….

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Sustainable Enterprise AwardsWe are pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise Awards!  The winners are……


Sustainable Enterprise of the Year: Cocoa Cinnamon

Cocoa Cinnamon, a two-year-old coffee shop in Durham, NC, is this year’s recipient of the Sustainable Enterprise of the Year award.  Cocoa Cinnamon prides itself on its community outreach, sourcing the majority of its coffee, chocolate, milk, and pastries from local and sustainable businesses, and providing employee benefits and a living wage to both full and part-time workers.

“We are honored and humbled to receive the Sustainable Enterprise of the Year Award!  In our 21st month as a brick and mortar and 45th as a business, we have laid a lot of the groundwork towards the kind of sustainability we’d like to achieve in the long run,” said Leon Grodski de Barrera, Co-Owner of Cocoa Cinnamon.  He continues, “we’re only a small part of the way there and take this award as encouragement to strive towards our long term vision.”

Cocoa Cinnamon became a Green Plus member in 2013 as part of a consortium of Durham-based food-related businesses dedicated to supporting the community through sustainable practices of food consumption.  This consortium was founded through the support of the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation.




Green Plus Mid-Sized Business of the Year: Bob Barker Company

The Green Plus Mid-Sized Business of the Year recognizes exemplary sustainability leadership in companies with more than 50 but fewer than 500 employees. Fuquay-Varina, NC-based Bob Barker Company is an industry leader in providing supplies to detention facilities, but also maintains a strong focus on building community and being a responsible environmental steward.  Bob Barker installed a huge solar panel array on its warehouse roof, which supplies almost all of its daily energy needs.  The company also has established a foundation that is active with programs that reduce prison recidivism, providing formerly incarcerated individuals with the support they need to become and remain active members of society.

“Bob Barker Company is honored and encouraged by this recognition! Our efforts to create a more sustainable business have led us to make improvements to the way we interact with our team members, the environment and improve our bottom line,” says Nancy Johns, Vice President of Social Responsibility.  “While we have far to go in further improvements, this recognition is great encouragement to continue our efforts.”




Green Plus Small Business of the Year: Rasa Spa

The Green Plus Small Business Award is made annually to a business with between three and fifty employees that exemplifies great business, employee, community, and environmental practices. Hailing all the way from Ithaca, NY, this year’s Small Business of the Year recipient is Rasa Spa, a holistic healthcare spa that offers a wide range of natural healing therapies and treatments.  It meets this mission by running its operations as sustainably as possible, from water conservation practices to the design of the building.

“Going through the Green Plus Certification process was very eye opening for us. It’s wonderful to be recognized for all of the hard work we put in to make some important changes here at Rasa,” says Rachel Hogancamp, Managing Partner at Rasa Spa.  “We are continuing to move forward with streamlining more of our business and employee practices while keeping our impact on the environment in mind.”

Rasa Spa joined Green Plus in October 2013 as part of a pilot program with the Ithaca-based Green Resource Hub, which worked with Rasa Spa to  provide hands-on business consulting from students at Cornell University.  Over the course of an academic year, Rasa Spa continued to improve upon its already rigorous green practices, and earned full Green Plus Certification just at the end of the 2014 academic school year.




Green Plus Sole Proprietor of the Year: Food FWD

The Green Plus Sole Proprietor Award recognizes sole proprietors, home-based businesses, and early-stage entrepreneurs who are building a highly sustainable enterprise.  This year, the recipient of this award is Food FWD.  Food FWD is a Durham, NC-based startup run by married-entrepreneurs Sarah and Noah Marsh, that partners with restaurants for large-scale collection of food waste.  The food waste is brought to a local composter, which is then re-sold to the public.  Food FWD also sells compostable serviceware.

“Sarah and I are extremely grateful to those who nominated Food FWD for Sole-Proprietor of the Year. We are honored to win this year’s Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise Award. The Triangle’s sustainability community has welcomed us with open arms and our early success could not have been possible without them,” says Noah.  “We look ‘FWD’ to seeing what the future holds and are happy to be a part of making food waste diversion the standard here in North Carolina.”

Like Cocoa Cinnamon, Food FWD is also a member of the Durham Food Consortium, joining Green Plus through the support of the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation.




Green Plus Nonprofit of the Year: North Carolina Center for Nonprofits

The Green Plus Nonprofit Award recognizes 501c3s, academic institutions, or units of government that have exhibited creative triple bottom line leadership.  This year’s recipient is the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

“All of us at the N.C. Center for Nonprofits feel deeply honored to receive the Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise Award.  A core value for us is the careful stewardship of all human, financial, and natural resources,” says Jane Kendall, President of the Center.  “We will strive to keep living up to the high standards of sustainability that Green Plus lifts up for nonprofit organizations and others that share this core value,” she continued.

Similar to other award recipients this year, the NC Center for Nonprofits joined Green Plus under support from philanthropic organization, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.  ZSR is itself a Green Plus Certified organization, and in 2013, offered to support 10 North Carolina nonprofits through the Green Plus program.




Social Enterprise of the Year: Southern Energy Management

The Social Enterprise award recognizes a for- or non-profit enterprise that uses its business as a way to influence a positive social impact on its community and beyond.  This year’s recipient is Morrisville, NC-based Southern Energy Management.  SEM already has numerous accolades to its name due to its efforts to promote social entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship.  SEM was among the very first solar entrepreneurs in North Carolina, and has set out not only to educate people in the region on clean energy, but to make sure it meets a high level of integrity in its social impact.

“SEM is honored to be recognized for our commitment to sustainable business practices. We’ve been a Certified B Corporation since 2009, and this commitment has served us well as a foundation for achieving our mission to create a prosperous company that supports our community and the environment we all share,” says Maria Kingery, Co-owner and CEO of SEM. “This award gives additional meaning to the work that we love, and for that, we are grateful.”




Innovator of the Year: Bull City Forward

The Green Plus Innovator Award recognizes entrepreneurs who have taken a different approach to the big issue of social and environmental sustainability. Durham, NC-based Bull City Forward is a nonprofit organization that supports local businesses and entrepreneurs that practice triple bottom line sustainability.  While socially innovative itself, Bull City Forward acts more as a conduit for other Durham-based businesses, encouraging innovation in business and helping businesses in the region improve their social capital.

Keeva Kase, the Executive Director of Bull City Forward, explains how improving business through innovation on a local level can have a positive impact on a national and global scale.

“This community is solving problems long endemic to Durham like clergy health, engaging physicians and community members in vaccination campaigns around the world, and using new tools like big data to improve healthcare on a national scale,” he cites as an example. “[Businesses] are selling their products in our grocery stores, bringing local farmers closer to their customers, and creating mobile apps that help people eat that food more healthfully. They’re helping Americans farm responsibly and West Africans compete fairly.”

Kase says that Bull City Forward could not have received the Innovator of the Year award if not for its partners and supporters.  “This award belongs to the community of volunteers, pro bono advisers, the Forward Fellows and their sponsors, the Innovation Challenge competitors and partners, and our Trustees. Together, The social entrepreneurial ecosystem has taken root in Durham and is flourishing. We hope to live up to this honor by continuing to innovate for the greater good in Durham and beyond.”



The Awards will be held on Nov. 9 at Mez Contemporary Mexican Restaurant — the FIRST EVER Green Plus Certified business — who will provide a delicious brunch in addition to hosting the awards.  The Awards are open to everyone, so please join us!!!

You can purchase tickets to the brunch here.  


If you are interested in providing a sponsorship, please contact Amanda Komar at


Congratulations to all of this year’s award recipients!!


2013 Sustainable Enterprise Award Recipients

2013 Sustainable Enterprise Award Recipients

2012 Sustainable Enterprise Award Recipients

2012 Sustainable Enterprise Award Recipients






About Green Plus

Green Plus is a North Carolina-based partnership of universities, chambers of commerce, and business leaders. Its mission is to assist small and medium-sized employers and their communities become more competitive by being more sustainable, and to cultivate a new generation of leaders in the sustainability field.

Green Plus’s key programs are

  • The nationally recognized, third-party Green Plus Certification program, which has nearly 400 business and nonprofit participants in 18 states.
  • Green Plus Fellowships and internship programs, which give graduate and undergraduate students hands-on experience in the issues of sustainability with real businesses.
  • Business consulting and education opportunities, which allows Green Plus members to connect one-on-one with sustainability and business experts, as well as receive educational resources about triple bottom line topics.
We educate, motivate, and recognize smaller enterprises for their efforts towards becoming more sustainable. We’re here to offer tangible, practical tips and expertise in sustainability.
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