Businesses teaming up to go green

MONTGOMERY COUNTY – Green initiatives in Montgomery County are on the rise, most recently with several energy-efficient and environmentally friendly local government buildings and a proposed recycling program for businesses in downtown Blacksburg.

To further green initiatives in the County, local businesses, including the YMCA at Virginia Tech and Draper Aden Associates, have joined Go Green NRV, a program designed to encourage local companies to enhance sustainable practices in their operations.

Go Green is run by volunteers, several of whom are associates of local professional firms, government employees, retail, and industries. Since the program is run on a strictly volunteer basis, there are no outright incentives offered to join the program, said Barb Wert of Go Green.

However, green business owners enjoy several benefits through conserving water, energy, and other natural resources, she said.

“A company’s incentive would be to reap the benefits of implementing environmentally sustainable practices in its operations, including providing a healthier work atmosphere for staff, decreasing the company’s impact on the environment, and realizing cost savings on utilities bills,” Wert said.

Green businesses save on water, energy, and waste removal bills while doing their part to help reduce their carbon footprint, Wert said.

These businesses also help improve the environment on a smaller scale in their offices and facilities by using less toxic products and promoting the walking, biking, or taking public transport to work among their employees.

According to information from Go Green, participating businesses have conserved resources by using Energy Star rated equipment, low-flow toilets, and recycling. The program is currently accepting applications, which include a checklist of the applicant’s current green business practices, and a mission statement of their sustainability goals.

The program began in 2008, and has grown to include 11 local businesses and organizations since then. As the program expands, Go Green leaders hope to offer more educational workshops for local business owners, which would focus on specific environmental issues in the business community, Wert said.

Other plans for the future include an expanded Web site, with more advice and tips on how businesses can progress in sustainable practices and customized checklists for specific industries on its program applications, she said.

“Our hope for this program is that those that participate will enthusiastically promote the initiative to their fellow-business owners, thereby maximizing the impact of everyone’s efforts on the New River Valley environment,” Wert said.  Hopefully, representatives from the participating businesses will also choose to help with the program’s development and administration, Wert said.

For more information on Go Green NRV, visit their Web site at www.gogreennrv.com.

Those interested will have an opportunity to meet with Go Green leaders in person at its workshop on October 14, from 8:30 to 10 a.m., at the YMCA on North Main Street in Blacksburg, where presenters will give a more detailed history of the initiative, and outline their hopes for the future and ways that New River Valley businesses can participate in the initiative.

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