Business Sustainability Awards 2010
Welcome to In Business magazine’s inaugural Business Sustainability Awards, which recognizes area businesses and business people for contributions to the sustainability of the Greater Madison business community.
The sustainability movement has firmly taken hold, and no matter what views you hold in the global warming/climate change debate, the efficiency nut in every true business person has to be impressed with the innovative eco-program initiatives outlined on the subsequent pages. When our readers sample the following local examples of sustainable excellence, they will understand that sustainability is about more than just “going green” to protect the environment, it’s about processes and practices that positively impact the bottom line.
A panel of three judges, each of whom has forged a career in the sustainability movement, evaluated local entries in eight categories: Sustainable Large Business of the Year; Sustainable Small Business of the Year; Individual Leadership Award; Sustainable Workforce Development of the Year; Eco Product or Service of the Year; Eco Protection Initiative of the Year; Eco-Efficiency Initiative of the Year; and Sustainable Community of the Year.
As you’ll notice, we identify only the winner in each category, with one exception — Sustainable Community of the Year — but in each case, the runners up have been notified by IB. In addition, we identify our judges below, but we don’t attribute quotes to them in the following stories.
The program, including the selection of judges, was put together with the help of Kristen Joiner and Bryant Moroder of Sustain Dane, and judging was not without its humorous moments. After considerable discussion about two worthy finalists, Middleton was selected over Madison for “Sustainable Community of the Year.” Following that difficult judgment call, IB informed the judges that they might hear from Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz about that decision. Sensing a “talking to” coming on, Moroder interjected: “No, I’m going to hear from Mayor Dave about that decision.”
We thank our judges, and Sustain Dane, for their many contributions to this editorial endeavor, and we wish Bryant well when he takes that dreaded call from his partner in sustainability, Mayor Dave.
Andrew Pace, Founder/Owner, Green Design Center, Waukesha
Andrew Pace, a recognized expert on green and healthy building products, launched his company in 1993 as a division of Mitchell Pace & Associates, a family business that serves the commercial and industrial- building markets. He is a past board member of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance and a two-time president of the Construction Specifications Institute-Milwaukee Chapter. In 2003, he received the Citation for Distinguished Service from the American Institute of Architects. A columnist and editorial advisor for Green Building Product Dealer magazine, he has authored several articles about the construction of healthy homes for publications such as Environmental Design & Construction and Ecological Home Ideas.
Tom Osdoba, Managing Director, Ctr. for Sustainable Bus. Practices, Univ. Oregon
Tom Osdoba is a social entrepreneur and advisor to communities, including Portland, Ore. and Vancouver, British Columbia, interested in sustainability. He also is a consultant to numerous organizations that are advancing sustainability in North America. In these capacities, he has created a framework for a sustainable regional economy, created innovative clean energy investment strategies, led initiatives for climate protection, green building and development, and purchasing, and helped develop award-winning initiatives for neighborhood-scale clean energy systems. He holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in economics from St. John’s University.
Wyllys Mann, Director, Green Bus. Development Ctr., Delta Institute
Wyllys Mann runs the Delta Institute’s Green Business Development Center, recently launched to support green entrepreneurs and provide resources, technical assistance, and hands-on consulting for businesses looking to “green” their products, processes, and programs. Prior to joining Delta, Mann was a project manager at East Lake Development Corp., where he was responsible for the development of the LEED Gold Washington Park SRO. He holds an MBA from the Michael Smurfit School of Business in Dublin, Ireland and a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago. He also served as executive director and founder of Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On, a youth theater company working in Chicago’s public schools.
Sustainable Large Business of the Year
This award recognizes a large company demonstrating a comprehensive sustainability effort that improves environment, social, and economic performance. (Open to companies with 100 employees or more.)
In perhaps the closest vote of the 2010 Business Sustainability Awards. Metcalfe’s Market emerged victorious among sustainable large businesses — in part because of its status as a for-profit company, in in part because of its commitment to eco-friendly grocery practices.
Metcalfe’s has instituted an 8-step sustainability program, which incorporates measures like green power purchasing, an emphasis on recycling and green packaging, customer rewards for “green behavior” such as bag reuse (including customer “eco totes”), the promotion of “buy local” by offering 2,500 products from more than 270 local growers or producers), and the installation of energy efficient LED (light emitting diode) lighting.
Judges gave more weight to Metcalfe’s accomplishments because they come in the realm of straight-forward profitability, not purely altruistic mission. “Metcalfe’s Market is a more traditional grocery store without a [sustainability] mission that otherwise incorporates principles of sustainability,” explained one judge. “They are looking at it from a pure business opportunity standpoint. In some ways, I give Metcalfe’s more credit for not having an altruistic motive.”
Another judge who admired the other finalist’s leadership in sustainability, also came around to Metcalfe’s because it’s a profit-driven company. “The fact they have made strides with a company that does employ more people probably has a bigger impact,” he agreed.
Sustainable Small Business of the Year
This award recognizes a small company demonstrating a comprehensive sustainability effort that improves environment, social, and economic performance. (Open to companies with up to 100 employees.)
Standard Imaging, Inc.
Standard Imaging, Inc.’s ability to couple environmental gains with continued net income growth earned it the “Sustainable Small Business of the Year” award from IB’s panel of judges. “They’ve shown that you can be a very profitable green company, and that really sets an example for other companies — that they are profitable because of this.”
Standard Imaging, founded in 1989 as a hardware product company, designs and manufactures instruments for radiation calibration in the treatment of cancer and other diseases in health care settings. Part of setting an example is the establishment of a comprehensive environmental management system (EMS), complete with operating goals for reduced energy and water use and materials consumption.
When the company moved into a new, state-of-the-art facility in 2006, environmental objectives were paramount, including the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system, and its transition to pre-planning software had resulted in a reduction in waste and shipping costs. In 2008, the company began to supplement its electricity needs with solar power, including a tracking system to generate 14,000 kilowatt hours annually.
Judges were impressed with the depth to which Standard Imaging built in performance metrics, and they were not surprised by its involvement in green tier certification. Said one judge, “It’s hard enough for a company that is 10 times that size to put forth the effort they have put into it.”
Eco-Efficiency Initiative of the Year
This award will be given to a company that has made significant improvements in its facility or practices that improve material, water and/or energy efficiency.
In the category of “Eco-Efficiency Initiative of the Year,” designCraft Advertising overcame the impressive entry and scale of a local manufacturing program to get the judges’ nod. With the help of sustainability programs like Mpower, the winning entry was deemed more advanced in terms of the stage of its sustainability improvements and therefore had more tangible ROI to show for it, such as a near 20% reduction in monthly electric usage in the first 10 months of 2009.
designCraft chose to execute major projects (and some smaller ones) to improve building efficiency, reduce water consumption (dual flush toilets that could save from 21,000 to 36,000 gallons of water per year), and improve transportation practices. An example of the latter: after compiling data on employee commutes, designCraft increased biking (saving 1,530 pounds in emissions if each employee bikes to work an average of three times per week), walking, and bus usage by providing information and incentives. The company switched to a bike courier service for most deliveries, and it keeps a car at the office for employees to use for errands or meetings.
Ecosystem Protection Initiative of the Year
This award will be given to a company that has implemented ways to initiate, assist or accelerate the protection of a local ecological system or feature.
Madison Golf and Development Group, LLC
Providing a best-practice model, not to mention role model that swayed judges, Madison Golf & Development Group, LLC and its new water- protection practice was a clear winner for “Eco-Protection Initiative of the Year.” In a practice that could be replicated at other golf courses and parks, Madison Golf is moving away from applying fertilizers and chemicals to its golf courses, and toward the use of an organic compost.
In 2009, this resulted in a 90% reduction of fertilizer use and a 75% reduction in the use of other chemicals (fungicides and pesticides). The compost, which releases its nutrient value at a 20% annual rate, also could bring water retention advantages. While the results are preliminary, the amount of water irrigated onto the courses last year was below previous levels. “I think that with all the golf courses in Wisconsin, with all the farms in Wisconsin, anything we can do to decrease the amount of pesticides is a big development,” noted one judge. “I know a number of landscapers who are looking at Madison Golf, and what it is doing, to change what they are doing.”
Sustainable Community of the Year
This award will be given to a Dane County community that demonstrates a comprehensive, community-wide sustainability effort that improves overall environment, social and economic performance.
City of Middleton
In Dane County, the City of Madison has influence beyond its borders, and sustainability is no different. The leadership provided by the Capital City is partly the reason why it did not win, despite an array of programs, the judges’ benediction for “Sustainable Community of the Year.” Simply, put, others have followed Madison’s lead.
In this case, Madison lost out to Middleton, a community of 17,000 people whose growing sustainability drive is proof that you don’t have to be Madison or Austin or Portland to get the job done. Said one judge: “I’d vote for Middleton simply because it was probably a lot harder for them to marshal the resources and knowledge to do what they did.”
What Middleton did was create a Sustainable City System Plan to build on practices like the installation of occupant sensors for lighting in city facilities, the use of LED lighting in traffic signals, emphasizing density in land-use planning, and the use of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to help preserve wetlands and prairies. With the new sustainability plan, Middleton intends to incorporate sustainability as a factor in every city decision.
Sustained Individual Leadership
This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding and outstanding commitment to sustainable business practices in Dane County.
Serial entrepreneurs are considered a crucial element in building a community of technology-based businesses, and our BSA judges identified serial entrepreneurship as vital to building a sustainable community as well. Leland Bruce, their selection for the “Sustained Individual Leadership Award,” typifies this entrepreneurial energy.
Bruce, founder of the Bruce Co., recently started 2nd Season Recycling to help solve the problem of a large yard waste site that had years of stockpiled material that never was properly processed to compost. The mission of 2nd Season is to divert waste streams from the landfill and use the composting process to create a beneficial reuse for the material.
Over seven years ago, Lee agreed to work with a local municipality to arrive at a solution. This required extensive research and investment in equipment and personnel, but the finished products today are used in the landscape construction business. Judges agreed that it makes both sustainable environmental and sustainable business sense. “Communities need people who can move from one problem to the next,” said one judge, “and bring that creativity into the discussion.”
Sustainable Workforce Development
This award recognizes a company’s commitment to creating jobs that positively impact the environment, or provide training to its current workforce on issues of sustainability.
Dreams of the paperless office are not completely dead, and with more than 40 percent of the U.S.’s solid waste comprised of paper, and with paper production as the fourth-leading source of greenhouse gas emissions among domestic manufacturers, docuScan of Wisconsin, a business venture under the nonprofit umbrella of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, was a clear winner for “Sustainable Workforce Development of the Year.”
docuScan specializes in converting paper-based information into electronic images; most of the Council’s visually impaired staff handle the prepping of all paper files and documents, a dual social benefit that left our judges in awe. Said one: “Wisconsin Council for the Blind has done a good job, not only in having an environmental impact, but also in trying to take something that’s very ordinary, office paper, and develop a credible, viable job-production process. They’ve been able to create jobs for disadvantaged people.”
Added another: “It’s the reality of something that’s happening. It’s not theory.”
Eco-Product or Service of the Year
This award recognizes a new product or service introduced to the market that addresses one or more of the following areas: helps to solve an environmental problem, demonstrates a superior environmentally-conscious design, or helps an individual better manage his environmental footprint.
Sergenian’s Floor Coverings
In 2007, Sergenian’s Floor Coverings initiated Wisconsin’s first comprehensive carpet reclamation program. The intent was to divert used carpet and padding from Dane County landfills while reclaiming the waste materials — and the result earned Sergenian’s the “Eco-Product or Service of the Year” award.
Sergenians guarantees that any carpet and padding it removes from residential or commercial project will not end up in a landfill. Some of the carpet waste is being recycled into new carpet fiber, while other waste is being used in the manufacture of “eco-hay,” industrial rags, sound-proofing material, and carpet cushion.
With other worthy entries, Sergenian’s victory was not a slam dunk. In fact, three finalists were close to one another in preliminary scoring. What put Sergenian’s over the top was not its groundbreaking nature — carpet reclamation has becoming a standard practice — but the scale of its benefits. “I see carpeting as having a larger environmental impact,” said one judge, “because of the sheer amount of carpeting and the regularity with which it’s exchanged.”
Learn more about the Business Sustainability Awards and view event photos.
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