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Civic Impact

It would be easier being green if everyone noticed, says Sustainable Pittsburgh

Local businesses are about to compete to be the greenest places around -- and they crave your recognition.
Sure, there are lots of benefits to reducing energy use. There are the financial rewards of reduced costs and risks alongside increased revenues; the environmental improvements in public health, including better air quality; and the social consequences of better relations between businesses and the community.
But would you believe it's the last improvement that businesses crave most? That was the impetus for the Green Workplace Challenge, just launched by Sustainable Pittsburgh.
"It gives them the incentive to go forward with some of these things they'd otherwise like to be doing," says Matthew Mehalik, program manager of Sustainable Pittsburgh. This competition could put businesses over the edge to take action, he says.
Participating businesses large and small (in different categories) will be challenged to measurably reduce costs related to their energy and water consumption, as well as their production of waste, using industry-standard EPA monitoring software. This will also allow companies to compare themselves to others with the same energy footprint nationally. The sign-up period ends Sept. 30, and the contest lasts a full year. There is also a separate competition for property managers.
Contestants will be able to take several monthly workshops to aid their efforts. The schedule and topic list have yet to be finalized, but they will include a class on the state's Act 129 program, for instance. Act 129 lets companies purchase or replace energy-sapping equipment, such as lighting, refrigeration, and heating or air-conditioning units. "The benefits accrue very quickly," Mehalik says.."The Act 129 program makes that payback period very short or in some cases instantaneous."
In the end, though, it all may come down to businesses hoping to get the proper recognition for their efforts. "That credibility is very important to them," Mehalik notes.
Do Good:
Enter the Green Workplace Challenge by registering here.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Matthew Mehalik, Sustainable Pittsburgh
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