Sunday, June 22, 2008

Goleta gets a bit greener

Responding to a community-based call for greener business practices, the City of Goleta adopted the Green Business Program Tuesday during the city’s weekly meeting at Goleta City Hall.

Approved Tuesday by unanimous vote, the City of Goleta added their name to the list of cohorts for the Green Business Program. The measure encourages local businesses to reduce their impact on the environment beyond local, state and federal governmental standards by offering incentives and assistance to interested companies.
Program Director for the Green Business Program, Frances Gilliland, said the Green Business Program will reinforce environmental protection in Santa Barbara County.
“The basic goal of the program is to work with interested businesses to help them become more research efficient,” Gilliland said. “The idea is to prevent pollution and save money, and all these things that we call green are not only green for the environment but green for money.”
Attributing to the list of allies of the Green Business Program, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce has given their recommendation to the City of Santa Barbara to support the measure. The measure will also be put before the Goleta West Sanitary District June 24 for approval.
Public Information Officer for the City of Goleta, Kristen Deshler, said she was pleased by the Counsel’s decision to pass the measure, citing the program’s ability to involve multiple community actors.
“The good thing about this program is that it is multi-jurisdictional,” Deshler said. “We’ve taken the old green awards program and are now reaching out across all different entities.”
Deshler said in addition to the program’s ability to reach for support throughout the county, the measure will bolster cooperation between business and local government.
“This program also brings the private sectors and local government together… and it’s all free,” Deshler said. “It’s just another way that we can reach out to our business community.”
Nina Johnson, Assistant to the City Administrator of Santa Barbara, said the City of Santa Barbara has received numerous recommendations for the Green Business Program
“Collaborating with other agencies to help businesses learn to protect the environment is a great idea,” Johnson said. “The Sustainability Counsel Committee recommended that the program be funded, [however] on any given item we wait for counsel election.”
Johnson said the Santa Barbara City Counsel will vote to approve the Green Business Program on July 1.
Gilliland said the measure coincides with the shared principles of the community with regard to leading the nation in “green practices”.
“The green business program really fits in with our local communities,” Gilliland said. “Santa Barbara is very environmentally aware and green themselves, and this program will allow us to work more closely with city staff.
The Green Business Program has already received support from government and business affiliates throughout the county – such groups include the Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control Committee, the Community Environmental Counsel, the Southern California Gas Company, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce and the cities of Solvang, Carpinteria and Buelton.
By providing checklists to businesses interested in becoming green, the Green Business Program will certify businesses through on-site evaluation and will also praise these businesses through marketing and outreach. Gilliland said the Green Business Program will create a viable measurement of a company’s dedication to green practices.
“Benefits of the programs include the ability of businesses to market themselves as green businesses,” Gilliland said. “The consumers will know when they go to a certified green business. This is not green-washing. A green certification from this program will mean something.”
Gilliland said different industry types will have to meet a very defined and significant list of environmental measures, such as water efficiency, water quality, transportation, pollution prevention, recycling and waste management.
“It’s a certification program; we will go through a whole list of measures,” Gilliland said. “They will need to really step-up to the plate and go above and beyond local, state and federal regulations.”
Although the program has not yet been approved by all facets of local government, Gilliland said she was optimistic about the program’s future.
“Just knowing our community, there will be a lot of businesses in Goleta well on their way and there will be a lot that need to do a lot of work,” Gilliland said.

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