by Maryana Dumalska

Twenty-five area business owners and community leaders attended the “How Green Is Your Business?” workshop on Feb. 28 at Kismet. Organized by Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, the Chestnut Hill Business Association (CHBA) and the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) and made possible through a Climate and Urban Systems Partnership grant, this event kicked off a pilot program: Green Business on the Hill.

The new program aims to recognize environmentally conscious businesses, offer tools to CHBA members who want to incorporate sustainability into their operations and publicly position Chestnut Hill as a destination for eco-conscious consumers. Weavers Way Co-op provided delicious, low-waste, plant-based food at the workshop.

CHBA Executive Director Philip Dawson welcomed the group by explaining how the new Green Business on the Hill program encourages businesses to network and share ideas around environmental sustainability. Larry Downey, director of membership at SBN, defined the concept of the triple bottom line – people, planet and profits – noting the power of small businesses to impact the city’s overall sustainability by shifting their purchasing and other business practices. Mary Ann Boyer and Anne Sudduth, of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, provided content around energy, waste and climate change, and explained its impact on businesses.

According to Boyer, “Climate change is an issue that is close to home as Philadelphians prepare for a hotter and wetter city.” She provided tips on how businesses can reduce energy in keeping with Philadelphia’s Clean Energy Plan.

“Making environmental changes like switching to renewable energy through PAPowerSwitch, installing LED energy efficient bulbs and conserving energy may seem like small steps,” Boyer said. “But cumulatively, they have a big impact on reducing our city’s environmental footprint.”

Boyer also tackled the topic of waste, noting that the United States makes up only five percent of the world’s population, yet accounts for 30 percent of its waste.

“Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability set a goal to divert 90 percent of waste away from landfill by 2035,” Boyer said, recognizing that waste contributes to climate change and other environmental challenges.

Workshop participants received access to an online self-assessment created for Chestnut Hill’s businesses by BSEC, SBN and CHBA, with questions relating to energy, waste and climate change. By answering the assessment questions, participants can document their current practices and learn about changes they can make to further reduce their environmental impact. Any business in the area can partake in the survey, but only CHBA members are eligible to be recognized in April for their sustainable practices.

“In April, participating businesses will receive a score of one, two or three leaves, indicating their current level of sustainable business practices,” Dawson said, adding, “We’re excited with the response to the program so far.”

“We hope this is just the beginning of more conversations in Chestnut Hill about how our local businesses can share ideas and encourage each other to use more sustainable business practices,” said McNally’s Tavern owner Anne McNally, who participated in the workshop.

For questions about “green your business,” contact Mary Ann Boyer at maryann@boyersudduth.com or Philip Dawson at pdawson@chestnuthillpa.com. CHBA member businesses who complete the survey by March 19 will receive special recognition in April, during Earth Month.

“It’s our hope that businesses will be inspired to continually evaluate their impact and make changes to increasingly ‘green’ their business,” Dawson said.

Maryana Dumalska is the Sustainability Intern at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, and a junior at Boston College studying Environmental Geosciences and Economics.

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