Just as homeowners’ energy bills benefit after a home energy audit, business owners can take steps to reduce their spending on energy and do their part to help out the environment, said Wilton Go Green president Peg Koellmer.
However, knowing exactly what changes to make can be difficult. To make things a bit easier on small business owners, Wilton Go Green has launched a new program offering to certify local businesses as “Green Businesses.”
“We’re trying to create a vehicle that would enable businesses to designate themselves as being green or environmentally friendly,” Koellmer told The Bulletin Monday.
According to the group’s Green Business application form, those businesses that participate in the program will show “the public, clients and employees that they are committed to the practice of good earth stewardship.”
Outside of Go Green, Koellmer owns Realty Seven, a real estate company on Danbury Road.
Unlike home energy audits, which often result in homeowners making basic capital improvements, many small business owners cannot make structural improvements.
“We had to focus on the fact that many businesses don’t own the property they are in,” she said. “They can’t really do capital improvements. They can’t just decide to change the windows of the building. This program is geared toward manageable changes, and I think we struck a great balance with that.
“We did it here at my Realty Seven office and got the platinum decal,” she said.
One reason many business owners have been interested in pursuing Wilton Go Green’s designation is the cost savings, Koellmer said.
“Well, one of the bigger things is the cost perspective,” said Tom Sato of Wilton Hardware. “A lot of it was cost savings to try and be as efficient as we could and save some energy along the way.”
He said putting timers on his lights and replacing some bulbs with LED lights were among the many energy-efficient programs he put in place at Wilton Hardware before the Green Designation was released.
But the list’s requirements for designation still inspired him to add a new program in the store.
“It was a simple one,” he said. “We weren’t recycling water bottles. We go through a lot of water bottles here and we weren’t recycling them. So we started doing that.
“Bottles are probably the biggest percent of things we’re throwing out. All the crew has been pretty good at rinsing out the cans and throwing them in the bins.”
The organization offers two designations related to Green Businesses, a green level award and a platinum level award.
In order to achieve the green level award, a business must put into practice 12 sustainable processes. The platinum level award goes to companies that have put 20 processes into practice.
Some ideas are easy, like “repair all drips and leaks” or “post signs in rest rooms and kitchens encouraging water conservation by turning off water between tasks.”
Others are more costly and time-consuming, like replacing all toilets and urinals with WaterSense-approved low-flow appliances.
Businesses looking for more information on becoming an official Green Business may contact Wilton Go Green at its website, wiltongogreen.org.