By Christopher Bartlett
Special To The Standard
The Sustainable Woodstock Energy Group had been discussing writing green business guidelines with the Woodstock area business community. But instead of writing local guidelines, they decided to work with local businesses to become more sustainable by joining the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership (VBEP), a program sponsored by the Vermont Small Business Development Center and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (see www.vbep.org.) VBEP is a free, voluntary, environmental assistance and business recognition program. The goals of the Partnership are to actively encourage improved environmental and economic performance and to promote public recognition of environmental excellence through promotion and recognition. In addition to the anticipated energy savings, the Energy Group sees this as a marketable initiative as our Woodstock area strives to be a green community.
The effort will be a collaboration between the Energy Group and the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce. The Energy Group is taking the lead in gathering information and resources, and the Chamber will help facilitate conversations with businesses. All businesses – retail, professional, non-profit, etc. – will be invited to participate. The energy group is currently doing research on rebate programs and incentives available to businesses. They have been talking with Efficiency Vermont about current rebates and incentives and are gathering information on the reLIGHT and newLIGHT programs. They will enlist the help of business owners who have already used Efficiency VT programs to make their businesses more energy efficient. One local owner, who has gone through the program with Efficiency Vermont to change all of her spot lighting (and that’s a lot of lights!) in her business is Kim Smith, owner of The Red Wagon and 37 Central Clothiers. Kim switched to all LED lights for her spots, and because of that change she has seen “substantial savings (we are talking 30-40%) already after only one month in one store and less than 1 month in the other.” And the best, and the reason Kim said “this was a no brainer,” was that the LED lights were free. She only had the pay the tax!
A committee is being formed with representatives from Sustainable Woodstock and the business community to promote the project. We will engage a lighting consultant to help determine the correct types of energy-efficient lighting for businesses and get volunteer help from area electricians if their expertise is required. The application process is free and includes an on-site assessment from the SBDC. One of the eight Achievement Standards in the application process is to “adopt at least one method to increase energy efficiency.” As an incentive for businesses to sign up, the energy group has applied for a grant to offer free energy efficient lighting upgrades of lighting supplies of up to $100 for businesses that sign up for the partnership. The goal is to financially supplement the cost for a business owner, to give him/her monies for other lighting needs either not fully addressed by a program such as reLIGHT or newLIGHT (if they qualify), or rebates for halogens and LED’s to replace conventional lighting.
A long-term goal of Sustainable Woodstock is to have Woodstock become a green, sustainable and economically viable community. It is our belief that this smart development of small businesses is the key to the future of small communities such as ours, and throughout the state of Vermont.
Stay in touch with us by email (email@example.com) or phone (457-2911), follow our blog (www.sustainablewoodstock.com) or friend us our Facebook page (Sustainable-Woodstock).
By Christopher Bartlett