Monday, March 5, 2007

Greening Our Businesses

Thanks to the Sakonnet Times and Newport Daily News for running the letters I submitted to their respective editors to promote the launch of Sustainable Sakonnet. It’s great to know that our local papers support environmental initiatives such as this.

The letter to the Newport Daily News referenced Gov. Carcieri’s State of the State address, specifically highlighting his ambitious goal to supply 20 percent of the state’s energy needs from renewable resources by 2011. That’s only four short years away. Four years.

It’s important to note, though, that renewable energy is only part of the solution to our energy woes. The other big part is energy conservation – using less to begin with. So what are we here in the Sakonnet area going to do to help on both of these fronts? Let’s talk about each opportunity:

Renewable Energy
It was ironic that the top business story in that same edition of the Newport Daily News was about Newport Harbor Corp.’s move to get all their power from renewable sources. Yes, going all-green adds a bit more to your yearly costs (for Newport Harbor it was about 2.6% of their overall energy costs); but when you are taking steps to conserve and limit your usage to begin with (e.g., replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones), it helps to net everything out. Here’s a list of resources small business owners can use to explore green energy alternatives:

• The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership

• National Grid’s Renewable Energy Page for Business Owners

• If you’re interested in pursuing the installation of your own solar array, send an email to and I can forward you a list of local resources.

Energy Efficiency
Waste not, want not, right? Just like at home, businesses can take steps to use less energy to begin with. Replace old bulbs with CFLs, insulate hot water heaters on premise, insulate. Again, some resources:

• National Grid’s Energy Efficiency Page for Business Owners

I know of one business in Tiverton who has embraced renewable energy. Citizens Union Bank (on the corner of Bulgarmarsh and Crandall) installed solar panels as part of their original design. What a statement.

Are there any others? Are you a small business owner interested in learning more? Leave a comment. Committing to more sustainable practices can even be a marketing tool. Many communities across the U.S. have created affinity programs in order to promote and reward green businesses. Just look at San Francisco’s Green Zebra Book or Bellingham, Washington’s Where The Locals Go Coupon Book.

We need Sakonnet area business owners to step up to the challenge. Who wants to take the lead?

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