Electrify Your Business

Electrify Your Business

No matter where you get your information and news from these days, you can’t help but hear all the information coming out about electrification being the best environmental choice for the future. Whether you are considering an electric fleet of vehicles for your business or simply for your personal commute to work every day, there are a lot of choices to consider. But electrification goes far beyond electric vehicles and can be incorporated into your business facilities in many different ways to help you become even more efficient, save money, benefit the environment, and go above and beyond your Green Business certification.

Here are some resources to help you add more electrification to your business including adding electric vehicles, solar power, and heat pumps to your operations.

Electrify your Fleet Vehicles. Does your business have a vehicle fleet? Then you should seriously consider switching to electric vehicles (EVs). The total cost of operating a fleet of EVs (including maintenance and energy costs) is less than that of gasoline vehicles. The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has compiled some resources/contacts to help with the process of switching to EVs. See their Services for Transitioning to a Zero-Emission Fleet page to learn more. You can also check out your local service provider to see what programs they have available (such as PG&E’s incentive and rebates

Electrify Your Commute. Looking for a personal ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) for your commute to work? Search for different incentives using the DriveClean.ca.gov search tool to look through incentives. You may also be eligible for a federal tax credit when you file your taxes for purchasing an EV. 

Electrify Your Heating. Change out your gas furnace and gas water heater for electric heat pumps, which are estimated to be between 3 and 4 times more efficient. Not only is it better for your wallet, but it also is better for your health and the environment! The Sierra Club estimates that if the average household replaced their gas furnace and gas water heater with electric heat pumps, they would reduce their emissions caused by heating by more than 45 percent over the next decade. 

Electrify Your Office Kitchen. Does your business have a gas stove in the staff kitchen? Consider replacing it with an induction one. Induction cooking is more efficient than cooking with gas (3 times more efficient) and is better for indoor air quality and the health of your employees. 

Electrify Your Building. Now is a great time to install solar at your business to save money on your electric bill. Take advantage of the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) while it is still available (it will disappear after 2025!). Currently, it is a 26% tax credit for purchased solar systems installed prior to December 31st, 2022. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guide to the Federal Investment Tax Credit for Commercial Solar Photovoltaics to learn more. You also may want to consider conducting an energy audit for your business. Energy Star estimates that annually in the United States, small businesses spend upwards of $60 billion on energy costs. Avoid whopping unnecessary costs by making sure things are operating as efficiently as possible.

Electrify Your Choices. Look into your local jurisdiction’s options for greener power and if offered, sign up for 100% renewable energy. Consider switching to your local Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), if available. Want to learn more about what a CCA is? Find more general information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s page on Community Choice Aggregation here. 

Electrify Your Network. By doing business with other energy-conscious businesses, the environmental benefits can grow exponentially beyond your business’s footprint (e.g., find suppliers with an EV fleet, landscapers that use all-electric/battery-operated power tools, etc.). Start by supporting other Green Businesses near you, find them on the new directory at search.greenbusinessca.org.

SB 1383 for Businesses

Organics

 

California is experiencing the effects of the climate crisis: hotter summers, longer fire seasons, extreme droughts, and rising sea levels. You may not think about food waste when it comes to the climate crisis, but according to CalRecycle, organic waste in landfills emit 20% of the state’s methane, a climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. To respond to the climate crisis, California is implementing a statewide organic waste recycling and surplus food recovery law: SB 1383. Starting January 1st, 2022, all jurisdictions in California will need to provide organic waste collection services to businesses and start collecting organic materials instead of sending them to the landfill. Edible food generators will also need to arrange to recover the maximum amount of their edible food that would otherwise go to landfills and maintain records. The new mandates can be confusing, read on to find out how this new law might impact your business. 

 

Starting January 1, 2022: All businesses in California (including apartment/condo complexes of five units or more) are now required to:

  • Divert organic materials from the landfill by
    • Subscribing to and participating in the organics collection service provided by your waste hauler,
    • OR self-haul organic waste to a specified composting facility, community composting program, or other collection activity or program. Records must be maintained of this service for amount of materials delivered to each facility.
  • Provide collection containers for organic waste and recyclables to employees, contractors, tenants, and customers.
    • Collection service must be arranged so that access to an adequate number, size, and location of containers with correct labels is available.
    • Provide indoor containers for organic waste and recyclables in all areas where disposal containers are provided for customers, except in restrooms (multi-family dwellings are exempt).
  • For all outdoor and indoor containers, the container bodies or lids shall conform to the following color scheme: gray/black for garbage, blue for recycling, and green for organics. In addition, containers shall have labels with graphic images to indicate primary materials accepted and prohibited.
  • Annually provide educational information about the legal requirements to compost and recycle including how to properly sort between the three waste streams. 

 

Starting on either January 1, 2022 OR January 1, 2024: Edible food waste generators are split into two tiers based on business type and must arrange to recover the maximum amount of their edible food that would otherwise go to landfills, and maintain records.

 

Tier 1 Businesses   Tier 2 Businesses
Tier One businesses must comply with edible food recovery requirements by Jan. 1st, 2022.   Tier Two businesses must comply with edible food recovery requirements by Jan. 1st, 2024. 
     
Supermarkets   Restaurants (with ≥ 250 seats, or ≥ 5,000 sq. ft.)
Grocery stores (with a total facility size ≥ 7,500 sq. ft.)   Hotels (with onsite food facility and ≥200 rooms)
Foodservice distributors   Health facilities (with onsite food facility and ≥100 beds)
Wholesale food markets   State agencies (with a cafeteria with ≥ 250 seats, or ≥ 5,000 sq. ft)
    Local education agencies (with an onsite food facility)
    Large venues
    Large events

 

Still confused about SB 1383? Checking out CalRecycle’s FAQs. Your local waste hauler should also be providing educational materials on what the rules and regulations are for your specific jurisdiction (and what exactly is accepted as food waste).

Let’s Grow Better

Let’s Grow Better

 

By Jo Fleming, Executive Director, California Green Business Network and YaVette Holts, Founder and CEO of Bay Area Organization of Black Owned Businesses (BAOBOB)

We offer free services to businesses that give them an advantage, provides funding and resources, and promotion. Any business in California can take advantage of our services. Does that make our service equitable? Equal yes, but equitable no. 

Large businesses hire sustainability professionals and make a significant effort and investment to operate sustainably. Why? Because it pencils out, and their customers like it. Small businesses don’t have the resources or know how to do this. That’s why the Green Business Program was first created in Alameda County in the mid-90s. Small to medium-sized businesses needed a framework and guidance to operate sustainably. The program was wildly successful from the start and grew from one California County to 42 different municipalities and 7 other States in two decades and over 4200 Certified Green Businesses. But that growth has come with some gaps and blind spots.

In 2013, we overlaid a map of California showing the locations of our Certified Green  Businesses with the newly developed CalEnviroscreen map. We were horrified to see that there were little to no Certified Green Businesses in the communities most impacted by poverty, pollution, and lack of education…just to name a few of the data markers used by CalEnviroscreen. We knew we needed to do better. We wanted our program to benefit the communities that most needed it.

We formed an AdHoc Committee, brought in key people that were working on environmental equity around the state. We spent the next five years adding Green Business Programs in areas colored red and orange on the CalEnviroscreen map. We started filling in the map. But as we were celebrating our efforts, we realized while we were filling in the map, anecdotal evidence indicated that we were still reaching more affluent, white-owned businesses. We were still missing a large swath of the demographics of our State. We needed to step back and take another, harder look at how we let businesses know about our services. We started working with trusted Community Based Organizations to reach Black, Brown, Indigenous, Person-of Color (BBIPOC) owned businesses.

“I’m on your website. There’s nothing here that tells me this program is for my community.” Those were the tough words that YaVette from the Bay Area Organization for Black-Owned Businesses (BAOBOB) recently gave Jo from the California Green Business Network (CAGBN). The CAGBN wants BBIPOC owned businesses to gain the Green Business advantage. We want more Black-owned businesses to get certified, save money, gain a marketing advantage. We connected with YaVette to see how we could make that happen. 

Businesses are growing better by looking toward sustainability as a guiding principle. 

The key pillars of sustainability are human, social, economic, and environmental.  By taking a close look at some of the external costs to society of doing business  (externalities that generally negate both growth and profit) we can all grow better together. Too often a community’s quality of life falls to the wayside and profit-focused businesses are allowed to pay low wages, generate toxic byproducts and careless waste. When we allow that, we all lose. Certified Green Businesses move their businesses toward sustainability, improving the defense against the external societal costs of doing business. Their employees are happier and their patrons grow more loyal and frequent.

A funny thing happens when an organization whose focus is on sustainability in business operations has to take a deeper look at its own human and social aspects of sustainability. We have to be honest with ourselves and our stakeholders on where we are and what we need to change. That honesty has been liberating and can lead us to pursue necessary change with urgency, but it can also be scary. 

It reminds us of the vulnerability our businesses feel when they first enroll in the program. “I’ve got to be honest with you. I don’t think we’re doing any of this. I don’t know that we can do any of it! We’re just so busy staying afloat as a small business.” We hear this often! Our response: “It’s not as hard as you think it might be. We’ll break it down into manageable chunks. We have resources and will help you every step of the way. The advantages of Green Business Certification will help your business grow.”

“I was impressed by how quickly they made the change.  I mean, you had the photo changed out before we finished the call!”  That kind of responsiveness is what’s needed and that’s our commitment to integrity.  Action over posture.

CAGBN and BAOBOB are working together to introduce Black-owned businesses to the strongest benefits of Green Business certification and to be responsive and supportive in the certification process.  What we’re learning in this collaboration will positively impact so many of our community partnerships throughout the state like The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce’s Fresno Green Business Program,  The Fresno Hispanic Foundation. The San Mateo Green Business Program, El Concilio in East Palo Alto, the Peninsula Chinese Business Association and the Hispanic Committee of the San Mateo Chamber of Commerce. 

It rang clear as a bell, in a recent conversation with YaVette. She said she wanted to lead our campaign with the phrase “Let’s Grow Better”.  Right then I realized that it applies as much to CAGBN and our own programming as it does to the businesses we are committed to serving. This is going to be a great year for growing better.

Ten Ways to Celebrate Earth Day from Home

Updated April 2021

It’s April, and Earth Month! This year is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. Due to the global Coronavirus/COVID-19 challenge, there will likely be fewer in-person events, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Many of the events will be postponed, not canceled, and all of us can still celebrate from home! Below we’ve detailed ten great ways to celebrate Earth Day and Earth Month 2021:

1. Watch Earth Day Live!

Sign-up for details at https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/

 

2. Do a Solo Beach/Stream/River Clean-up 

EarthDay.org had a HUGE plan to launch thousands of clean-ups globally via the “Great Global Cleanup” but unfortunately, these events are on hold as COVID-19 spreads. This is a great activity to do solo or *with your immediate household* if permitted in your area. Collect trash using gloves and a bucket or bags. Wear your mask, and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or food.

 

3. Do an Upcycled Art Project

Check out this list of fun projects! 30 Earth Day Crafts and Activities Using Recycled Materials

 

4. Sign an Environmental Petition via Patagonia Action Works!

 

5. Donate to an Environmental Non-Profit

Find a non-profit near you that is helping our planet and give them a contribution to support their efforts and help them through this uncertain period. Consider supporting a certified Green Business non-profit, a few that work statewide (or globally!) are listed below. More can be found in our business directory.

Certified Green Business Environmental Non-Profits

Organization Focus Donation/Learn More
Algalita Work to shift the behaviors of people on land to reduce the plastics in the oceans. Donate to Algalita
Center for Environmental Health Protects the environment and population from dangerous chemicals through education and advocacy. Donate to CEH
Climate Action Reserve Encourage action to reduce GHG emissions by promoting the environmental impact and financial benefit of emissions reduction projects. Donate to Climate Action Reserve
Coalition For Clean Air (CCA) Working on air quality issues statewide. Goal: Protect public health, improve air quality, and prevent climate change. Donate to Coalition for Clean Air
Ecology Action Help reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency programs, reduce water use, and run transportation programs. Donate to Ecology Action
Food Forward Fight hunger and food waste by rescuing surplus produce and connecting it to those in need. Donate to Food Forward
Matter of Trust Facilitate programs that link surplus with needs, promote naturally abundant renewable resources, and create inspirational ecological sites. Donate to Matter of Trust
Natural Resources Defense Council Help safeguard the Earth through policy, advocacy, regulation, and a large community of supporters. Donate to NRDC
Pollinator Partnership Initiatives to protect the well-being of nature’s pollinators at the government and industry level, as well as public education programs. Donate to Pollinator Partnership
Sierra Club Work towards climate solutions and conservation, utilizing philanthropic and grassroots advocacy. Donate to Sierra Club
Surfrider Foundation Dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network. Donate to Surfrider Foundation
The Pachamama Alliance Fight for indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest to protect and conserve their lands. Global community working for a sustainable future. Donate to The Pachamama Alliance

 

 

6. Support Green Businesses

Why: Certified Green Businesses save water, energy, and waste and have been certified by your local Green Business Program. By supporting them, you’re shopping your values and keeping the Green Economy going!

How: It’s easy to find Green Businesses near you that are doing their part to reduce their impact and help make their communities more sustainable.

Two Easy Ways to Find a Green Business Near You

  1. Search our Green Business Directory.
  2. Download the Shop Green App (new iOS version!) here or Android version here.

 

7. Start a Covid-19 Victory Garden

Why: Now is a great time to start your very own Covid-19 Victory Garden to help keep your family a bit more resilient and have some hyper-local produce this summer. 

How: Plant a Victory Garden to combat coronavirus fears and isolation

 

8. Get Solar Quotes

Why: Reduce your energy bills and produce clean power for your home and the grid. We regularly saw 4-7 year payback times on solar systems in 2020. Most companies can provide a quote virtually making this a great stay-at-home activity! 

How: We recommend getting quotes from one of our trusted Green Business solar installers, check the directory here. If there aren’t any near you, check out EnergySage to get multiple quotes at once, energysage.com.

 

9. Sign-up for a Local Organic CSA

Why: Support local jobs, cut out the middleman, boost organic agriculture, and this is a minimal contact way to get fresh produce!

How: Search the Local Harvest directory, talk to vendors at your local farmer’s market, ask friends! Google CSA near me and you’ll find even more options.

 

10. Make the Switch! Up Your Energy Savings in 2021

Saving energy at home is much easier than most people think. Here’s where the opportunity exists in a typical US household according to the EIA:

Save on Water Heating

Tweak Your Temp

Turning down your water heater’s temperature 10 degrees Fahrenheit saves 3 to 5 percent on your energy cost!

Wash with Cold

75% of the energy used for a load of laundry comes from heating the water (source)! Using cold water also helps clothing last longer (lowering its impact). Set the washer to the “bright colors” or cold water setting and use a healthy detergent option that works well with cold water (we recommend GreenSeal, EPA Safer Choice, or UL Ecologo certified options).

Shorten Your Showers

Save energy AND water! Use an efficient shower head that flows at 1.5 gallons per minute (GPM), this swap alone may save 30%-50%. Try to keep your shower time to 5-10 minutes maximum and you’ll be on your way to savings!

Save on Lighting

Switch to LEDs

Save ~50% by switching CFLs or fluorescent bulbs to LEDs.

Save ~90% by switching incandescent bulbs to LEDs.

Search for replacement bulbs at your local hardware store (see if there’s a Green Business option near you here) or online, make sure the profile and color temperature of the bulbs fit your needs. Note: Prioritize switching bulbs that are used for the most hours each day, then slowly switch less frequently used bulbs.

 

Save on Space Heating and Cooling

Ducts

Keeping your heating and cooling ducts inside the conditioned space of your home will reduce energy loss.

Seal It Up

Seal doors and windows with weatherstripping or caulk. Look to see if a free energy audit is available in your area once this health crisis passes.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats help you monitor your system from your phone anywhere. Make sure heating/cooling aren’t left on and follow these recommendations: Heat your home to 68° or cooler, let it drop to 60° or lower at night. Cool your home to 78° or warmer. 

Find more ideas at www.energyupgradeca.org

 

BONUS ACTION: HELP GROW OUR IMPACT!

The California Green Business Network is ready and willing to help your local businesses improve their triple bottom line *virtually* during this Coronavirus crisis. Refer a business to us by reaching out to your local Program Director here or get your business started on its Green Business certification journey, here.

ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA GREEN BUSINESS NETWORK

The California Green Business Network helps local businesses conserve energy, water, minimize waste, prevent pollution, and shrink their carbon footprints through a voluntary certification available statewide. This important work takes place thanks to the generous support of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and many legislative champions from across the State.

4,500+ certified California Green Businesses combined to achieve some impressive environmental outcomes in 2020:

Learn about the California Green Business Network, how to become a Green Business, or where you can support Green Businesses near you at greenbusinessca.org.

How Small Businesses Can Temporarily Adapt

Fire and Small Business Resources


Photo: Dagmar Dolatschko

The most recent updates are added at the top. (Last Updated: 8/26/20)

California Fire Resources:

Local, State, and Federal Guidance to Businesses:

Webinars/Videos: 

COVID-19 Resources:

Other Resources:

Have a resource to add? Email it to sorgelolson@environmentalin.com

 

How Small Businesses Can Temporarily Adapt

Author: Josephine Fleming, Executive Director of the California Green Business Network

As the president of a small business in Santa Cruz, and the Executive Director of a nonprofit serving small and medium-sized businesses across California, I have a deep appreciation of the dilemmas and decisions business owners face today. We are making decisions with many uncertainties, knowing they directly impact our employees, customers, and our own bottom line. 

Given our focus on costs and profit, and knowing that in the midst of this crisis we’re unlikely to increase revenue, we may well choose to cut staff. And frankly, for some that may be the only path. For other businesses, it may be time for a deep breath and to rethink options to stay afloat until more information is available. 

I propose that, instead of preemptively cutting staff expenses, business owners consider using this downtime to complete important, cost-saving projects that in busier times often get overshadowed by urgent tasks. 

I encourage business owners to use this time to consider how they can broaden their calculation of the bottom line to include people and planet — the so-called triple bottom line. If you’re a business owner that can keep staff even a few more days, why not: 

  • Use this time to educate staff on clean and green practices and demonstrate your commitment to a green future.
  • Research and purchase cleaning products that are hygienic without being toxic. 
  • Schedule consultations with solar companies to start saving now on energy bills.
  • Sign up for the myriad of online tools that help reduce your energy bills.
  • Set up online billing and other paper-saving systems to save money and reduce waste.
  • Research long-term cost-cutting as well as revenue-generating projects.
  • Engage green experts at no cost to help you overcome the heightened public health needs of today without creating public and environmental health hazards tomorrow.

Our team continues to work to assist businesses to become Certified Green Businesses during this time, providing remote assistance through phone and web video. If interested, enroll here. For currently certified businesses, many of our Green Business Programs can offer remote review for your upcoming recertifications.

The latest research and trends in countries that first had cases of COVID-19 suggest that within the next couple of weeks, the scale of its reach will be more clear. That knowledge will help us all plan better. Meanwhile, let’s be creative. Let’s use what resources we have to create and invest in long term benefits for our people, planet and profit.