Organic Housekeepers, cleaning with a conscience, saving the earth one tub at a time.Cassie rides on to Greener Pastures

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Energy Smart Business Applicant Requirements
— Small or medium business/facility located in Eagle County. (Yes, the size is a little vague. Think of a hotel as a “medium” size business if that helps.)

— Must directly pay utility electricity and natural gas bills.

— Must own or have control/access to lighting, heating and ventilation systems, etc.

The Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability will consider businesses or facilities on a case-by-case basis. For more information or to apply, contact Jen Schenk at or call 970-827-9999.

Are you an energy smart business?
The Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability is offering assistance to small and medium size businesses to cut their energy use

By Cassie Pence

Business can take the blame for destroying the environment. But business can take responsibility for saving the environment, too. The difference is a matter of will and imagination.

Consider this quote from Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard from his book “Let My People Go Surfing”:

“Who are businesses really responsible to? Their customers? Shareholders? Greener PasturesEmployees? We would argue that it’s none of the above. Fundamentally, businesses are responsible to their resource base. Without a healthy environment there are no shareholders, no employees, no customers and no business.”

For Chouinard, the environment is his bottom line. He runs Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company, with the basic mission to make the best products without causing unnecessary harm to the environment. He describes the philosophy as making profits without losing your soul, and in “Let My People Go Surfing,” he describes in detail how other businesses can apply these same ideas and still make money. “When you do everything else right,” Chouinard quotes the Zen master, “profits just happen.”

In fact profits just happen so much for Chouinard and Patagonia that he gives away 1 percent of his sales each year though 1% for the Planet, a program he started. Intended to “keep earth in business,” 1% for the Planet is a growing global movement of 1337 companies that donate 1% of their sales to a network of 2,348 environmental organizations worldwide.

Imagine if all business considered the environment to be its bottom line. Think about the changes businesses would make in their daily operations, changes in their products and packaging and changes in their buildings. When you consider energy use, profits and the environment aren’t in conflict. In fact, businesses that reduce their energy consumption and conserve natural resources ultimately affect their bottom line for the better. Profits just happen.

The Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, a local non-profit that is helping to shape our community into a more sustainable one, is launching an Energy Smart Business program to assist small and medium sized businesses in Eagle County cut their energy use. The program’s goal is to save energy and provide energy efficiency expertise to business owners or managers.

The Alliance, who is a beneficiary of 1% for the Planet, is currently seeking business applicants for the program and will enroll a total of 25 businesses for 2011. The Governor’s Energy Office through their Main Street Energy Efficiency Initiative is funding the program.

This is the perfect opportunity for business owners who want to be more sustainable (but don’t know where to begin) bring about positive change in their company. For employees, this program is an opportunity to open dialogues with their manager about making the work place more energy efficient.

The program does not offer direct funding for energy audits or implementation of energy conservation measures. The Alliance acts as an “energy coach” to first help businesses understand their current energy use and then to help them understand ways to reduce it.

The first step is an energy audit, which will pinpoint where your business is losing energy. Once an audit is completed, the Alliance will review recommended energy conservation measures and help the business determine the best measures to implement. Examples of energy conservation measures include lighting retrofits, programmable thermostat and energy management system installations, heating and ventilation system grades, insulation and building envelope improvements. The Alliance will educate businesses on available utility rebates and other financing options for the energy saving projects.

Once the energy conservation measures are decided, the Alliance will help each business select qualified contractors to install the energy savers. The Alliance will also then verify that the changes are actually saving the amount of energy promised. Finally, the Alliance will help promote your good energy saving deeds — and profits will just happen.

Chouinard has put the responsibility on himself and Patagonia to lead corporate America by example. Now with a little assistance from the Alliance, local Eagle County businesses have the opportunity to lead by example, too.

Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle. She and her husband, Captain Vacuum, own Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company. Contact her at



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