A local environmental organization is aiming to connect eco-friendly businesses to eco-conscious consumers through a Green Business Network in Carroll County.
The program is a collaborative effort by a committee composed of members of Waste Not! Carroll, Sustainable Living Maryland and the Catoctin chapter of the Sierra Club, said Sally Long, one of the committee members.
Long said fellow committee member Don West came across a similar network of green businesses in Boone, N.C., and thought it would be a good opportunity for Carroll businesses and consumers.
After receiving a copy of the scorecard the Boone program uses to allow businesses to evaluate their green practices and receive points for different recommended practices, the Carroll group drafted a similar checklist for the Carroll program. The scorecard is expected to be accessible via the www.planetcarroll.org website by Tuesday, West said.
“The way I see it, all businesses want to be sustainable, otherwise they wouldn’t be in business,” Long wrote in an email. “We wanted to help businesses recognize that being ‘green friendly’ could result in financial benefits as well as environmental and community benefits.”
The scorecard for Carroll’s Green Business Network lists best practices in four areas of environmental and community stewardship, including solid waste management, environmentally responsible purchasing, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and water conservation and quality. The value assigned to each practice is weighted differently depending on the level of commitment required for each action.
Committee member Dan Andrews said the program has three tiers of recognition. All participants will receive a general decal to display in their business showing that they are a member, which will be accompanied by another seal denoting their level of achievement.
“We tried to keep phase one of this very practical and pragmatic,” Andrews said. “People can begin to learn these methods and these techniques and phase into more sustainable practices over the course.”
West said that during the creation of the program, he found an encouraging amount of support among local business owners.
“Once they see what we’ve tried to do, it’s been unanimous as far as thinking this is a good idea,” West said, noting that half a dozen businesses have expressed interest in receiving a copy of the scorecard once it was finalized.
Robin Ford, of Robin Ford Building and Remodeling, Inc., said he learned about the budding Green Business Network through West and was immediately interested.
As a certified green builder, Ford said he puts extra effort into incorporating environmentally-friendly features into the homes his company builds, and in the processes his company uses during construction. For example, Ford said he keeps an extra roll-off container on construction sites specifically for recyclable materials, whereas it would be easier to use one container and have it all disposed of as waste.
“I’m very much a believer of green features,” Ford said. “It’s a lot of work, and I put out a lot of effort, and I think it will be nice for the organization to recognize the people who have put out the extra effort.”
Interested business owners can print a copy of the scorecard from the website, then should evaluate their own practices and tally up the total score, then send it back to the Green Business Network Committee. Once the scorecard is received by the organization, a committee member will call the business owner to schedule a visit to their operation and complete the initiation.
Andrews said being identified as a local green business will benefit participants through the long-term cost-savings of the eligible practices within the scorecard, and by helping them to attract more customers.
“We believe that all people, as well as businesses, are going to have to work in a more sustainable fashion,” Andrews said of the future. “We think that if you develop a network like this, even with anywhere from 20 to 100 businesses, they would start to perhaps use each other as allies in purchasing from one another, or referring customers to one another.”
The Green Business Network is another way of educating the general community about some of the organization’s values, Andrews said.
“What we’re hoping to do is rather than just continue a consumptive and wasteful approach to life, we’re trying to get more of an awareness and a full circle cradle to cradle type of approach to life,” Andrews said. “It just makes a whole lot more sense as we continue to move forward.”