Tri-County Green Business Program: Making environmental & economic sense

Energy Corps

Read about Kelli’s success with the Tri-County Green Business Program:

“Whenever we go to make a decision about a set piece or a prop, I see us think about it more,” says Grandstreet Theatre’s Director of Education Marianne Adams about the effect of their new Green Street initiative.  “Instead of just doing it naturally, I see us make more of an effort to say ‘well, hmm, do we really want to do that? Does it make sense to have all those plastic bottles in the audience? Or is there another alternative?’”

When Helena native Kal Poole became Managing Director of Grandstreet Theatre, he began the Green Street initiative.  This policy sets up simple rules to guide environmental and fiscal sustainability in theatre operations.  The Green Street formula is simple and sweet:  Buy Less + Toss Less + Waste Less = Cost Less.  More specifically, Green Street promotes investing time in building sets “with an eye toward restaging.” As well, as consider the “savings in purchasing and utilities [as] long-term investments in your bottom line and in the planet.”  Check out Grandstreet Theatre’s video and environmental statement here.

The very loveable Grandstreet Theatre, arguably the Jennifer Lawrence of Helena’s business community, is only one of 27 Tri-County Green Certified Businesses.

Green Business stickerThe program began in the fall of 2012 and is quickly gaining momentum in the tri-county area.  Twenty-seven businesses are formally certified and we receive applications for certification every week.  The businesses in the program vary—community theaters to automotive mechanics, landscapers to restaurants and grocery stores to boutiques.  These companies have little in common except for a shared sense of responsibility for their businesses’ impact on the environment.  Each business has had an energy audit and written an environmental policy statement describing current efforts and long-term goals in sustainability.  The Tri-County Green Business Program holds educational workshops, acts as an informational resource for the businesses, promotes the certified businesses and their efforts, and builds a network of environmentally conscious business people.

Admittedly, I tend to carry away with the ‘feel goods’ of the green business program but the business owners will be the first to snap me out of my warm-and-fuzzy daze with a quick—it just makes economic sense.

For example, J4 Automotive demonstrates some of the most impressive sustainability efforts in the program.

First, they crush old oil filters that would normally be tossed, and recycle the steel.  Then, they capture the remaining oil from the filter and use it to heat the shop with an EPA approved used oil furnace.  They do not need all of the reclaimed oil and can sell the excess to a local asphalt batch company that uses it for road mix.  Process explained here.  Owner of J4 Automotive Kit Johnson says, “As a business owner, the financial rewards, the return investment, just make sense.”

These Tri-County Green Businesses have found ways to set environmental and economic goals for their business and are realizing that they can often go hand in hand.  Sometimes being green can save you green.

member_kelli_roemersKelli Roemers graduated from the University of Montana in 2012 with a B.S. in Resource Conservation. She has worked in everything from the industrial barley fields to outdoor education in Glacier National Park. She is excited to gain professional experience and development with the Energy Corps program. Kelli works with Lewis and Clark County in Helena, MT. She coordinates the L&C Green Team, the Citizen Conservation Board, assists with the implementation of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals for Helena, and educates the public about available energy and water audits in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, and Broadwater Counties.

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