Clark County’s Green Business Program is a growing concern, and its new Green Business of the Year event Thursday evening is a sign of its push for a higher community profile.
The first-ever business of the year award went to New Seasons Market in east Vancouver, which won out over 13 other candidate companies. New Seasons’ recognition was announced Thursday evening at the Green Business Showcase, held at the Fort Vancouver Artillery Barracks.
“New Seasons has gone above and beyond in all of our evaluation categories,” said Sarah Keirns, environmental outreach specialist at the Clark County Department of Environmental Services. “They donate leftover food, they’ve put motion sensors on bathroom faucets. They collect plastic from the public and they have a very active ‘Green Team’ who share ideas and work on green projects.”
The green business program was launched in 2012 with the county’s Department of Environmental Services as coordinator and Waste Connections, the city of Vancouver, and Clark Public Utilities at partners. Some 60 active businesses are now certified as green businesses under the program, Keirns said.
Certification requirements listed on the website www.clarkgreenbiz.com fall under categories of community involvement: waste and recycling, energy, hazardous materials, and water and wastewater. Once a business completes an application, Keirns conducts a site visit and establishes a process for certification. Once a business is certified, the Green Business Program promotes the recognized businesses through its various communication channels, and businesses are allowed to tout their certification.
The program also offers networking opportunities for businesses to exchange information on their green practices. This month, New Seasons hosted a Morning Blend networking event that included a presentation of the grocer’s green efforts.
The pet supply store Canine Utopia on Northeast 78th Street is one of the county’s green certified businesses. Owner Evan Smith said he got involved because of his own involvement in environmental interests, which includes work on the local Recycled Arts Festival.
Because he doesn’t own the building that houses his store, Smith said he was unable to tackle some of the green improvements recommended in the Green Business Program application.
But he worked with Keirns on alternative environmental upgrades and focused on improvement he could make, including reducing waste. The business, with three employees, was able to dramatically reduce its trash by altering its disposal practices after careful monitoring, Smith said.
Saving money wasn’t the point.
“I needed to step back and see what impact my business was having on Clark County,” he said. “I didn’t want to come in and make a mess and leave it.”
Keirns said the program’s goal is to have 100 green certified businesses in a year.
She said she also would like to expand on the Green Business of the Year award, possibly creating other award categories based on business size and categories such as green products or services and sustainability. And she would like to bring in more businesses from the county’s smaller communities.
“Any business can be a green business because the program works with you to be the most efficient business you can be,” she said.
Other applicants for the Green Business of the Year award were Bikram Yoga Hazel Dell; Biokleen; Cadet Manufacturing; Clark County Habitat for Humanity Store; Corwin Beverage; Educational Opportunities for Children and Families; Elkhart Plastics; Heavenly Bounty Farm and CSA; NuStar Energy; Simply Thyme Catering; Vance Family Soy Candles; Vancouver Sign Group; and Whole Foods Market.