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A four-month series by the Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County that will help organizations implement and gain certification for using environmentally-friendly practices is now accepting businesses for the 2015 cohort.

The newly designed Green Business Academy will host a kick-off event focusing on solid waste reduction, recycling, and energy conservation.

  • The North County kick off will be held Wednesday, October 7 from 3 – 5 p.m. at Hardy Diagnostics, 1430 W McCoy Ln. in Santa Maria.

“Businesses that get certified through the Green Business Program save money by lowering costs, increasing productivity, and attracting new customers through free advertising,” said Frances Gilliland, Program Director. “Our new modular-based program allows enough flexibility for businesses of all sizes to participate, while also providing structure so that the certification can be completed in a timely fashion.”

The GBPSBC has been providing green certifications to area businesses since 2008, with close to 100 businesses certified to date. The new structure streamlines the certification process so that a business can complete all necessary steps in as little as four months, working in a cohort that allows them to support and learn from each other along the way.

Each month, Gilliland said, participants will focus on a new module, including live and virtual workshops and on-site assessments where trainers provide hands-on technical assistance on required and voluntary measures such as water efficiency, energy use, or waste reduction. In addition to these areas, businesses take steps to conserve water, prevent pollution, recycle, and make environmentally sound purchasing decisions.

Upon program completion, businesses receive a certificate, a sticker to display, and recognition at the annual GBPSBC Luncheon. They also receive free advertising by being listed in the Directory of Certified Businesses on the GBPSBC and California Green Business Program websites, recognized on chamber of commerce websites, and highlighted through free print and online ads.

The Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is one example of an organization that has been highly impressed with the results of the program.

“What I love about the Green Business Program is that they encourage change and help keep more money in your pocket through education, collaboration and guidance from highly experienced experts,” said Mike Hendrick, General Manager of the Marriott. “In the first two years after getting certified, we saved over a million gallons of potable water, not to mention significant savings through reduced energy use, smarter paper consumption, and lower waste production.”

Establishments of all sizes are welcome to participate in the Green Business Academy, from small mom and pop stores to larger corporate operations, Gilliland continued. Registration fees are made on a sliding scale, depending on the size and type of company.

While all businesses are strongly encouraged to attend the official kick off meeting, those that are not able to attend can still participate in the program, and can work with program staff to determine an alternate initial meeting date.

Those interested in participating can learn more by visiting http://www.greenbizsbc.org/get-certified/green-business-academy or by contacting Program Director Frances Gilliland at (805)729-3472.

About the Green Business Program

Since 2008, the Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County (GBPSBC) has been providing resources, assistance, and recognition to businesses that go above and beyond to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. In partnership with cities and agencies within Santa Barbara County, the comprehensive certification program allows organizations to earn an official designation as a green business through workshops, trainings, on-site visits, and evaluations.

The GBPSBC is part of the California Green Business Program, a network of local programs operated by counties and cities throughout California and funded by grass-roots contributions from local government and utility partners to make it accessible to small to medium sized businesses in California. For more information, visit www.greenbizsbc.org.