Green workplaces grow in Clark County

Thursday event will celebrate local businesses that strive to embrace environment

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter



Going green

What: Clark County Green Business Program, a free business assistance and recognition program provided by Clark County’s Department of Environmental Services.

Why: The program provides a framework for business leaders to evaluate their company’s environmental performance and assess and identify resource conservation and money-saving opportunities through workshops and networking events with other green businesses.

Sign-up information: Clark County Green Business Program.

A handful of Clark County businesses will celebrate corporate efforts to think green Thursday, a date more commonly associated with pink and red hearts.

However, corporations that love the environment are adored and applauded any time of the year, said Bob Patterson, a sustainability specialist with Clark County's Environmental Services Department, which will host the county's first-ever Clark County Green Business Showcase. "It (practicing sustainable business) used to be a good idea," he said. "Now, it's more of a requirement."

About 200 people are expected at the 7:30 a.m. event at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. Most are employed by the 17 local companies that have earned recognition as a Clark County Green Business for completing a program launched in 2011.

The program started with 12 local businesses and grew to include 29 companies in 2012. And the county has already added a dozen more businesses this year that will find ways to reduce company waste and environmental impacts. The process — from the initial search for areas that need improvement, to working out a strategy and implementing a plan — is different for every company that signs up for the free program, Patterson said. "They identify that for themselves," he said. "It's an opportunity for them to take a look at the things they can do that they haven't done before."

Program guidelines help businesses recognize their ongoing efforts and improve in six key areas: reducing and mitigating stormwater runoff; reducing waste and increasing recycling; decreasing water consumption and the creation of wastewater; reducing and better handling toxic materials; reducing energy waste; and lending support to the community.

Patterson said the benefits can range from a significant cost savings in areas such as energy reduction to improving their companies. He also is seeing new trends in business-to-business relationships in which national companies are increasingly likely to engage with proven green businesses.

"For example, Procter & Gamble is asking for partners that support the practice," he said.