Category Archives: Triple bottom line

Networking with Trail Business Owners: Recapping This Year’s GAP SBN Networking Event

This year’s GAP SBN networking event, held this past Tuesday, November 8 at the Levi Deal Mansion Bed & Breakfast in Meyersdale, provided a friendly and supportive forum for sustainability-minded business owners to discuss the current progress, ongoing challenges, and future direction of the GAP SBN. The event began with a short update on the network from project leader Phillip Wu, who discussed the new assessment-based rating system, the recently-launched website, and the new members that have joined so far this year.
Next, project leader Emma Strong introduced Carl Knoblock, director of the Pittsburgh office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, who discussed how co-operative purchasing can help businesses save money while curbing their environmental impacts. In a case study, Carl presented the system that his own manufacturing company created, which he called “cluster purchasing.” This system involved a small group of businesses, decided by geographic location, size, and needs, that agreed to order common products together, trade hours of specialty staff (like HR or marketing personnel), and exchange materials and utilities based on need. For example, one company within Carl’s system was paying to discard lightly-used rags similar to what another business was paying to have delivered. By assessing what businesses where ordering and paying to discard, they were able to save money by ordering and disposing together. Then, could have more leverage and negotiate better rates with their suppliers when their orders are large.
After hearing Carl’s insights, attendees discussed their own business’ needs that could be met by a co-operative system and what it might look like. Because the GAP SBN is geographically spread out, it was decided that a regional or town-by-town approach would be most effective. Also, attendees agreed that cardboard recycling and reuse was daunting and recognized this as a good place to start. The discussion was productive and informative, and Phil and Emma came away with good ideas of the major needs of the business owners. After the discussion, Levi Deal Mansion co-owner Jan Dofner led the group on a tour of the historic house that began with an overview of the business’s sustainability efforts. The tour ended with delicious appetizers and desserts brought by the attendees. Discussion continued over the food and included more thoughts on co-operative purchasing as well as anecdotes about working in trail-related businesses. The event provided a lively forum for getting to know fellow business owners along the trail and for sharing stories and tips.
After the event concluded at the Levi Deal Mansion, Morguen Toole Company (a recently-opened lodging, dining, and event facility in Meyersdale) invited attendees to visit and tour the historic building. The tour, led by co-owner Andrea Hoover, gave attendees the chance to ask questions about the building’s impressive renovations and how the owners manage the many and varied facets of the business. Again, discussion turned towards the successes and challenges working in the tourism industry, and the business owners found that they shared many of their concerns. Each attendee left with contact information from the other attendees, a better sense of camaraderie between the Trail Towns, and excitement for the future of the GAP SBN.

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Easy (and Free) Ways to Go Green and Save Green

Go Green and Save GreenDoing things that are good for the environment does not have to mean shelling out a lot of your hard-earned money. In fact, you can save a lot of your money by helping the environment—and you won’t even need to spend a dime. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Replace your expensive chemical cleaners with your own homemade mixture of baking soda and vinegar. You’ll not only save money, but you and your loved ones won’t have to breathe in all those toxic fumes. Clean drains, sinks, ovens, floors, and more. See http://www.natural-healthy-home-cleaning-tips.com/vinegar_baking_soda_cleaning_recipes.htm for some tips.
  • Reduce junk mail while conserving trees by visiting CatalogChoice.org to stop unwanted catalogs from reaching your mail box. Also, most junk mail you receive will have an 800-number listed. Call and simply request to be removed from the mailing list.
  • Save your old coffee grinds—you can mix them into the soils of both your indoor and outdoor plants to make a great fertilizer. Also, water your plants with leftover coffee from the coffeepot; the coffee provides your plants with much-needed nitrogen.
  • Get an energy audit done on your home to find out where you could save money and be more energy-efficient. Some utility companies provide energy audits for free or at a discounted rate. To find an energy rater near you, visit http://www.resnet.us/trade/find-raters-auditors. Also, browse the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency to find out what incentives and grants you could be qualified for to reduce your energy use. You can also perform an energy audit yourself—see http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/DIY-home-energy-audit.
  • Save an average of $90 a year on your electricity bills by shutting down your computer at night. If your computer takes a long time to start up and shut down, choosing the “Sleep” and “Hibernate” modes on your computer will save you time and are almost as good for your pocketbook as shutting down your computer entirely.
  • Use cold water when washing your clothes and linens to save $60-$100 a year on energy costs. 90% of the energy used by washing machines goes into heating, and most loads do not need hot water to clean effectively. In situations where hot water is necessary, for example, to kill dust mites in bedding or to clean heavily soiled items, you can still use cold water in the rinse cycle.

For more information:

http://www.squidoo.com/easy-green-tips

http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/latest/green-tips-10-easiest

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/beat-the-heat-wash-in-cold.html

http://www.livescience.com/6082-energy-saving-tips.html

“Home Energy Checklist” from the U.S. Department of Energy: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/services/energy_aware_hec.html

“Office Checklist” from the U.S. Department of Energy, for your small business: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/services/energy_aware_oec.html

Image: Salvatore Vuono (http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=659)

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Make sure you have a roof over your head – and double check that it’s green!

Green walls are the way to go!

To keep your business and home safe, you must put a roof over your head, but what about a green roof.  Over the last few years, green roofs and now green walls have been a trend in helping improve the environment as well as your business.  Adding a green roof to your business can also add new life to your community.  Literally! Green roofs create new gardens and ecosystems on places that one would never think to find growing produce or even a butterfly sanctuary. Green roofs are set up to help control rainwater, but also increase the diversity of the concrete jungle.  By definition, “green roofs are the result of a complete underlying roof build-up system, providing continuous, uninterrupted layers of protection and drainage.  Free drainage covers the entire roof surface, avoiding problems associated with walls and pillars built off a roof deck.” http://www.greenroofs.com/Greenroofs101/concept.htm

Investing in a green roof will help reduce the costs of your heating and cooling bills, reduce storm-water runoff, and bring new life to your building (both wildlife and new customers as well!).

In more recent years, green walls have been popping up on buildings in addition to roofs.  Green walls take the same concepts as roofs but make them vertical.  Both roofs and walls help insulate buildings for sound and remove pollutants from the air; making your business that much fresher! Depending on the size of your building, green walls also offer the opportunity to create artworks using various designs made out of natural green plant life.

Check out these sites for more info:

http://agreenroof.com/

http://greenroofs.org/index.php/about-green-roofs

http://www.greenroofs.com/

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How to Make Your Event a Little “Greener”

How to Make Your Event a Little “Greener”

Whether you are having a family get-together or a community-wide event, there are ways to help you save money as well as save the planet in the long run. 

First off, invest in any reusable products – From plates to gloves to tablecloths to containers!  Do you often use plastic tablecloths to cover the tables at your picnic, monthly meetings, or special event?  Next time consider opting for a few fabric table coverings that you can simply wash each time. They will last for years, unlike plastic tablecloths that will last for decades in a trash dump.  The same goes reusable plates and silverware.  You may not want to use your good china or daily dinning ware, but perhaps you could buy a set of durable, reusable plates (usually a heavy plastic) and utensils that you can use and wash for the next time.  These make better options than Styrofoam and other disposables. 

Planning to do a clean-up in the community or even at your own home or business? Will you be using gloves to collect the litter and trash along the way?  Invest in garden gloves rather than latex/plastic versions.  Much like fabric tablecloths and heavy plastic plates, these gloves can be washed and reused each time instead of being tossed in the garbage.  In any case, it’s always best to find a way to reuse a product before recycling or even throwing something away. 

Another thing to consider in planning your event is your location.  If you can, hold your meeting or festival outside using natural light.  Another option would be to hold an event in a room with plenty of natural sunlight where you would need no or very little artificial lighting.  All of these options can reduce your overall energy usage. 

Now on to the food! Every picnic or meeting has to have something to snack on! Why not try creating an entire meal from local farmers markets and fresh produce vendors.  Supporting local farmers supports the local economy. Many of these vendors have organic choices to make your meal even greener!

Finally, make getting to your event more environmentally friendly.  Encourage friends and family to walk, bike, or even use public transportation to attend your “green” picnic, meeting, event, or festival! 

These tips are just a start to help your organization, business, and family make small differences with a big impact on both the environment and your wallet!

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A new resource for energy-efficient applicances

With energy costs pushing up these days, many consumers have been looking to find even small ways to save money on their gas and electricity bills. Appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, televisions, computers, and dishwashers all use a lot of energy, and older models tend to be less energy-efficient than newer ones.

If your appliances are outdated, unreliable, and in need of being replaced (appliances tend to have a life span between 6 to 12 years), TopTenUSA is a good website to find the most efficient new appliances on the market and save money on your long-term energy costs. Free web-based rankings of the ten most energy-efficient appliances in a variety of categories are available on the TopTen USA website, along with pricing, specifications, local and online retail options, and personalized rebate information.

According to the Bryn Baker of the World Wildlife Foundation, “TopTen helps consumers make informed decisions on household products that can help fight climate change by reducing energy consumption, while saving money on electricity and gas bills.”

Baker continues: “Even small shifts in the products that consumers buy and use every day can produce a considerable impact: just a 10 percent shift in current sales to the most energy-efficient products could eliminate the release of nearly 3.5 million metric tons of carbon-equivalent gases each year, which is like taking 600,000 cars off the road. If all products used in the U.S. were TopTen ranked, the country would save over 270 million metric tons of CO2 and more than $46 billion dollars in energy costs over the product lifetimes. That would be like taking all the automobiles off the road in California, Florida, New York and Texas.”

TopTen functions similarly to Consumer Reports, as a non-profit organization that is independent and does not accept product samples or payments from manufacturers. The key criterion for listing is energy efficiency but, depending on the type of product, may also include environmental, health and safety concerns.

Norman L. Dean, the president of TopTen USA, says: “We’re spurring an upward spiral toward efficiency—the more consumers demand it, the more emphasis manufacturers will place on efficiency. Rather than copying technology to meet a standard, manufacturers will be innovating to be the best.

“We make it easy for consumers to find the most energy- and money-saving models, which in turn encourages manufacturing innovations that will make products in the United States even more energy-efficient. …TopTen USA intends to transform the American market from the one of excessive energy use to one that actively sustains products with the highest practical energy-efficiency.

“By doing so, TopTen USA helps tackle important issues such as climate change, pollution of the environment, the national security threat from our dependence on foreign oil supplies and high energy bills.”

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Greenest Building to be Built in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is racing forward in the world of green. The proposed $400 million, 40 story PNC Tower to be built in the PPG Plaza in Pittsburgh is planned to be the world’s greenest building. The tower will supposedly consume 50 percent less energy than a typical office building, and will reduce energy costs by about 30 percent. Construction is planned to begin in 2012 and should be complete by 2015. Horray to PNC and Pittsburgh for green innovative leadership.

Check out the full story at

Although you probably don’t work in the greenest building in the world, you can do your part to cut every costs as well. Don’t forget to replace burned out light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent bulbs, use energy saving settings on your computer, use power strips for electronics so you can easily switch them off at night, and use natural light as much as possible. Stay tuned to the GAP SBN blog for more tips.

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Reuse with Freecycle

Checkout http://www.freecycle.org for an easy way to reuse! This nonprofit organization connects you with local freecycle groups, allowing you to easily post items you want to get rid of, but don’t want to trash or recycle. You can also browse online postings of items that people in your community are trying to get rid of. Get rid of stuff for free, get stuff for free – pretty sweet deal.

We strongly encourage companies to join freecycle at work, http://quickbase.intuit.com/freecycle as a way to enhance your company’s corporate social responsibility. Remember the triple bottom line ~ People, Planet, Profit.

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