Getting Started On the Right (Green) Foot

Holly Bonner

As local professionals slowly start returning to their cubicles, businesses are taking a closer look at their work culture, employee satisfaction and budget. Some businesses are looking to take up new habits, while others are planning to break bad ones.

When it comes to the new normal, let’s get started on the right (green) foot. 

Working toward regional sustainability, Chattanooga-based green|spaces has five energy-saving tips you can take back to your office:

  1. Enable sleep mode on computers, monitors, printers and other electronics after 10 minutes of inactivity. 
  2. Install occupancy sensors in low-moderate use areas (i.e. break rooms, copy rooms, utility closets, storage).
  3. Set back your programmable thermostat for occupied and unoccupied times, allowing a 3-7 degree Fahrenheit swing, which can save up to 20% on your electric bill.
  4. Retrofit lighting to high-efficiency LEDs, including overhead lights, task lights and outdoor lights.
  5. Generate renewable energy onsite with photovoltaic panels, or offset energy use with EPB's Solar Share program.

green|spaces, a sustainability nonprofit, partners with local businesses in a program called green|light to provide a Green Business Certification. 

“LEED is a good program for what it does, but it's not accessible for small businesses or people leasing their space. So, we launched green|light because we wanted to create an approachable way for businesses to take a few steps forward in their sustainability efforts,” says Dawn Hjelseth, green|spaces' Director of Development.

The certification helps businesses reduce their environmental impact, save money and better communicate their commitment to operating with our shared natural resources in mind. So far, 24 businesses are green|light certified, and 28 more are in the process.

In the program, participants must complete a series of prerequisites and accumulate credit points within nine sustainability categories which include green cleaning, environmental literacy, landscaping practices and more.

“I think every single business is surprised by what they find in the beginning, especially when it comes to their transportation and waste usage,” says Kelley Cureton, green|light Program Director. 

Brand awareness and employee retention are other perks of the green|light certification. Statistics from the Harvard Business Review show that the up-and-coming workforce is willing to accept a lower salary in exchange for meaningful work. 

“Companies use this certification to engage with and recruit employees who are passionate about environmental stewardship,” Cureton says.

Along with green|light, green|spaces also created green|leader, an eight-week course designed to help working professionals, students and other individuals understand the relationship between our environment and the economy. 

“The curriculum focuses on historical and current environmental issues that affect us globally and locally,” Cureton says. “Using those building blocks, we give people problem-solving and management skills surrounding corporate sustainability.” 

If you're interested in being a voice for environmental sustainability and becoming a green|leader, register through UTC here

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