by Philip Dawson, Executive Director, Chestnut Hill Business District
This Earth Day, the Chestnut Hill Business Association is making an unprecedented commitment to advancing sustainability with the launch of its first-ever green business certification program.
Green Business on the Hill is a new initiative that recognizes merchants who take meaningful steps toward incorporating sustainability in their operations. The program requires participating CHBA members to report the practices they have in place and encourages them to adopt new practices that further reduce their impact on the planet.
After completing a rigorous 104-point evaluation process, businesses are measured against a benchmark for certification and then awarded one, two or three leaves depending on the extent of their achievements, with opportunities for recertification and improvement on an annual basis.
By showcasing their commitment to environmentally-sensitive business practices, Green Business on the Hill also makes it easier for eco-conscious consumers to learn about small businesses in Chestnut Hill that share their values.
To be sure, a commitment to sustainability is not new for many of our member businesses. For years, local shoppers have been accustomed to walking out of Weavers Way Co-op with their food in repurposed boxes or reusable shopping bags. McNally’s Tavern has instituted a nostraw policy with beverage orders unless explicitly requested by the customer. And Kilian’s Hardware periodically issues calls for used packing materials, enabling it to conduct its mail order business entirely with recycled shipping supplies.
Still other businesses are making a profound impact in a quieter way, and their contributions deserve to be better recognized. For example, the only two participants to earn an outstanding “three leaf” rating on their first year’s application were real estate management companies – 40 West Evergreen, LP and the George Woodward Company – the latter of which made news in recent years for earning Leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design (LEED) Platinum certifications on some of its local properties.
Green Business on the Hill provides a comprehensive platform for measuring the impact of both the visible and inconspicuous practices that contribute to reducing environmental impact, ensuring that these efforts are known to the public and exemplary to fellow business owners.
Finally, I’d like to thank our valued partners whose financial support and work made this effort possible. The program development was funded with a grant from The Franklin Institute’s Climate and Urban Systems Partnership program. CUSP seeks to support innovative strategies which reduce environmental impact, and this project is a perfect example of how the Institute is at the forefront of advancing practical solutions to larger scientific problems in local communities.
We are also indebted to MaryAnn Boyer and Anne Sudduth of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, who donated many hours of work time to develop a robust certification framework and evaluate the applications of more than 30 businesses who signed up for the program in its inaugural year.
The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia also played a critical role in connecting the effort to larger green initiatives in the city and sharing its experience in leading a diverse business coalition focused on sustainability. Through our collective work, Chestnut Hill will continue to enhance its reputation as one of Philadelphia’s greenest neighborhoods. On April 22, visit chestnuthillpa.com/green to learn about Green Business on the Hill and view participating CHBA members.