Engaging the business sector is an important element of any successful community sustainability plan. According to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Inventory (2008), commercial and industrial energy use constitutes 39% of the greenhouse gas emissions in Tucson, compared to 24% contributed by residential users. In addition, commercial and industrial water use accounts for 35% of the water distributed in Tucson.
The Green Business Certification Program can help businesses reduce resource consumption, operate more sustainably, and save money on utility bills!
Pilot Program Case Study:
Goodmans Interior Structures piloted the Green Business Certification Program in 2009-2010. Through the energy, water, waste, and pollution prevention audits we learned that Goodmans has a long history of incorporating sustainability into their business operations, but there was still more work to do.
Goodmans occupies a 33,000 sq. ft. facility built in 1999 comprised of a 2-story office/retail showroom and an adjoining warehouse. They operate during normal business hours from 8-5 p.m. Monday-Friday with 16 employees.
The energy evaluation illustrated how small changes can make a real difference. Goodmans was able to achieve a 13% reduction in their electricity use through behavioral and no-cost changes such as turning off bathroom lights when not in use, turning off vending machine lights (a $200 a year savings!), and consolidating office space onto one floor. Lighting is a big challenge for Goodmans because of their showroom and design needs. Recommendations were provided for energy efficient upgrades to existing lighting that will save an additional $2,000 a year.
The water evaluation showed that low-flow toilets were already installed, however, water-saving opportunities suggested include installing .5 gal aerators on bathroom/kitchen faucets and shutting off water to unused areas. A broken irrigation system that remained turned off resulted in a 39% reduction in water use. Drought tolerant landscaping remains without irrigation.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
Through the waste evaluation at Goodmans, we learned that 58% of the waste they generate is recyclable. Commercial recycling is cheaper than commercial waste service with the City of Tucson. By adding 2 recycling collections per month and reducing waste collection to twice a month (instead of weekly), $1,300 can be saved on waste disposal fees each year. Each business is unique in terms of the waste it generates. We also learned that Goodmans disposes of 83 gallons of shrink wrap each week. By partnering with a local grocer to recycle the wrap along with their plastic bags, over 4,000 gallons of shrink wrap can be kept out of the waste stream each year.
The pollution prevention evaluation showed that Goodmans properly stores all chemicals and hazardous substances in a secure location. Additional steps to use less toxic substances where feasible were recommended.