Why local businesses are going greenMore and more local businesses are choosing to “go green” with the Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County. The program, part of the California Green Business Program, provides resources and assistance to businesses wanting to be green, and certifies businesses through workshops and trainings, on-site visits and evaluation.

Businesses who are interested in becoming Green Certified go through the Green Business Academy, which provides a series of workshops the give the tools and training necessary to “green” business operations. The Green Business Academy also provides other resources, like previously certified businesses to network with and lean on to achieve certification.

Many Santa Maria businesses already make the effort to be environmentally friendly, and becoming Green Certified was a natural next step.

For CalPortland Construction, focusing on green business practices has always been a part of their company culture.

“We chose to become Green Certified because it’s good for business and the community,” said CalPortland VP & General Manager Danny Deveraux.

As part of the Green Business certification process, CalPortland Construction has made changes that include retrofitting their lights and plumbing to cut down on electricity and water usage.

“We’ve always wanted to make sure we’re being a good neighbor and setting a positive example for those around us,” said Deveraux. “Supporting the local efforts to be more environmentally responsible and becoming Green Certified is just another way of doing that.”

Woody’s Butcher Block knew from when they first started their business that they wanted to be Green Certified.

“Being green was always part of our business plan,” Woody’s Butcher Block Owner Tim Woodbury said. “It seemed like the most responsible thing to do. We know that we are training future workers and maybe business owners and setting the right example is very important to us.”

Woodbury said there were no real surprises or major changes their business had to make during their certification because being green was part of their business blueprint to begin with.

“The hardest part of the process for us was sourcing only recycled or recyclable products,” he said.

For Riverbench Winery, the certification process served as an educational opportunity.
“The Green Certification process has been a real eye opener for us – we’ve learned a lot,” said Danae Smith, Director of Hospitality at Riverbench Winery. “There are always new ways to conserve that we learn about that I haven’t even considered.”

Along with switching to more efficient lighting and plumbing, Riverbench has learned about designing low water use landscaping, and more environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.

Deveraux also agreed that the educational component of the Green Business certification program is very beneficial.

“The education that comes with the program- that was really great,” he said. CalPortland Construction was particularly concerned with their water usage because of the California drought, and learning of new ways their company could cut down on their water usage was exciting for him.

“Obviously, the drought has been a huge issue and doing our part to reduce water usage is very important to CalPortland Construction.” He said.

Deveraux said the program also opened their eyes to other issues, like electrical usage and waste management disposal that their company could also address.

“In terms of waste management, knowing that you are disposing of items correctly reduces the liability for your company,” he said. “Benefits like these –that go beyond simply doing the right thing and conserving energy – were very interesting to us.”

The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce found that getting more educated on green business practices through the certification process meant they could then help educate the rest of the local community.

“Due to our role in the Energy Watch Partnership and the Green Business Program, the Chamber feels that it is good to lead by example and be Green Certified,” said Terri Oneschuck, VP, Chamber Operations at the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber made changes to their lighting and faucets, the paper products they purchase and also started a rideshare incentive program with their staff as part of their Green Business certification process.

All the local business who have achieved their Green Business certification agree they have benefitted from going through the certification process.

Riverbench Winery has seen savings from switching to low flow toilets, sinks and dishwashers.

“The savings is great, but what’s even better is that being a Green Certified business makes our company feel good!” Smith said. “Our customers also appreciate the effort when they see the Green Business logo.”

“Ultimately, businesses will see the long term cost benefits from the changes they make in the green business program,” said Deveraux. “And it’s just the right thing to do. It’s good for your business, and its good for the community.”