We recently joined around 13,700 others when we decided to become a Columbus GreenSpot. That is an incredible amount of people that have joined this program. Why did we become a GreenSpot? For us, it came down to two things: we wanted to support local sustainability initiatives and to challenge ourselves to be held more accountable in our daily practices. As a sustainability consulting organization, we address green practices everyday but if we are not pushing ourselves to learn more and to decrease our own carbon footprint, then – well – we simply are not practicing what we preach.
Before I go too much further, what in the world is a Columbus GreenSpot? In its simplest definition, GreenSpot is a recognition program for businesses and residents in the Columbus area that are committed to sustainable practices. It is more than just a designation, however, it is a commitment to your community that you will do your best to live and work in an environmentally conscious way. GreenSpot is also a network and resource hub for like-minded individuals and organizations to learn from each other and collaborate. The program is ultimately a movement that aims to make Columbus cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable.
Now, what is Focus on Green doing to act on its commitment to be a GreenSpot? One thing is this very blog article. In total, we have signed ourselves up for 8 engagement commitments. This means we are going to help to promote and grow this initiative by encouraging others to become a GreenSpot as well as prominently displaying our commitments. So, below are all of our 46 green practice commitments in engagement, energy, water, reduce-reuse-recycle, and transportation.
**=Still working on
***=Tweaking to make sense with our business structure/will implement with future growth
Record and submit the green initiatives we’ve begun or continued as a result of being part of GreenSpot. *
Create and display an environmental policy or mission statement. *
Comply with local, federal, health, safety and environmental regulations. *
Challenge a neighboring business to become a GreenSpot by referring them to the GreenSpot website. (I challenge you to follow this link right now – then come back to finish this article.) *
Openly encourage employees to become a GreenSpot at home. *
Display our GreenSpot decal in a window or some other prominent place. (Check out the bottom of webpage.) *
Post a list of the commitments for becoming a GreenSpot business where both customers and employees can see it. (Just another 39 to type and then we will be there.) *
Support an environmental nonprofit organization through financial contributions, in-kind services, volunteer work, or board service. *
Track and post utility bills in a common employee space. ***
Establish a business-wide recycling program that includes – at a minimum – glass, aluminum, plastic bottles, steel, and paper. **
Clean all outdoor areas – like parking lots, sidewalks, alleys and patios – with a broom and/or damp mop instead of a hose. If hosing is required, we will collect runoff and dispose of it as recommended by the City of Columbus. ***
Integrate active transportation into our wellness policies and sustainability plans. ***
Encourage employees to walk or bike to meetings, lunch, etc. *
Provide bikes for employees to use during the day. */***
Encourage teleconferences and web meetings. *
We are not successfully implementing all of these yet, but we are putting our best effort forward. Many of them are not necessarily applicable to how we operate our business. For those, we are implementing measures where we are meeting the same intent, but might not be following the GreenSpot commitment verbatim. For instance, we do not have a fleet of cars (41), but I do drive a high-efficiency vehicle (Prius). So far, it has been an interesting process to think creatively on how we can best implement all of these measures.
As stated earlier, one of the reasons we decided to become a Columbus GreenSpot was to support green initiatives in our local area. We are proud to live and work in a city that supports programs like this and many others. The Columbus GreenSpot website is a great collection hub of several programs that are helping to make our city healthier, such as Branch Out Columbus (initiative to plant 300,000 trees in Columbus) and GreenSpot Backyards (resources/rebates for rainwater harvesting). Another great program is the Green Columbus Fund. This program ‘incentivizes sustainable development and redevelopment in Columbus.’ It will reimburse developers for their application fee to pursue LEED ™ Certification (New Construction, Core and Shell, Commercial Interiors, and Existing Buildings). This incentive is a great way to offset some of the fees that so often hinder a project from pursuing LEED Certification. AEP and Columbia Gas also provide incentives to encourage energy efficiency in the built environment. We encourage you to take some time over the next week and check out what green initiatives are happening throughout the area (whether that is Columbus or another municipality).
Health Impact Assessments + Enterprise Green Communities