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Search for the ‘green champions’ of Bermuda business is launched

Businesses are being encouraged to do their bit for the environment by taking part in Bermuda's first ever ‘Green Workplace Awards' launched at the weekend.

Sustainable development charity Greenrock unveiled the first annual event at its Earth Hour held at City Hall on Saturday evening in partnership with The Bottom Line magazine to recognise large and small businesses for their environmental and sustainability efforts.

Any kind of business can enter the contest with awards in the tenant, owner/occupier, building manger, hospitality, retail and other categories - with one winner in each, while there will also be a ‘Green Champion' award for the individual who has put in an outstanding effort to reduce the environmental impact of their company.

The concept for the awards came from the charity's Green Building Forum where participating companies expressed the need for businesses to be acknowledged for their sustainable and environmental work and to inspire others to do the same.

Greenrock Management Committee member Judith Landsberg, who heads the charity's Green Building Forum, Green Office Project and Green School Project, said: “The Green Building Forum brings together many different types of companies who share their ideas with one another.

“We felt it was time to start highlighting the small and large steps that they are taking in these areas. We're proud to announce the Green Workplace Awards for businesses who are truly making the effort to examine their ‘green' practices and improve upon them.

“The key message here is that small steps are just as significant in this process. We've heard examples of large and small companies who decide to take measures such as eliminating plastic cups and bottles, moving away from paper billing and sending e-statements instead, to businesses installing GPS on service trucks to track fuel usage and cut down on driving time on the roads.”

Businesses will undergo a performance period between May and mid-July in which they will have to compile and submit information demonstrating their efforts to reduce energy consumption and other green behaviours in the workplace, with a panels of judges selecting the winners in August who will also be featured in The Bottom Line.

They will be required to write a brief narrative about their efforts in terms of environmental impact (electricity and water usage, recyclables, reduction in energy bills, all of which businesses are encouraged to quantify where possible), green policies (green cleaning products, indoor air quality/healthy building policies) and office initiatives (projects in the areas of innovation, education and community support).

Ms Landsberg, who chairs the Green Buildings Committee, is involved in the Green Office Project through giving presentations about going green in the workplace and to help businesses form ‘green' teams and share ideas with them about what they can do, as well as changing individuals' behaviour by encouraging them to use proper coffee cups instead of disposable ones and implementing reasonable policies like reducing paper use.

“When people think about going green it is normally big capital projects such as solar panels but you can save 10 to 15 percent of your electricity bill by a change in your behaviour,” she said.

“Ace Ltd, for example, is “Ace Ltd., for example, is changing the parking lights in its garage using LED lights which will cost $50,000, but save $80,000 per year.”

Ms Landsberg, who also chairs the Green Buildings Forum, which meets every two months with representatives from about 20 member companies, including major hotels, service providers, big insurance companies, small businesses and Government departments, to discuss problems and come up with solutions and to generally motivate people to become more green.

“The feedback is that, particularly from re/insurance companies, they say nothing engages my boss's attention like a competition,” she said.

“Businesses would all like to see a plaque or an award in their office and that was part of the initial impetus for these awards.

“It is all about recognising companies' efforts to be green whether they have been doing it for a long time or are trying it for the first time.”

Ms Landsberg said that the awards would be a very open contest in its first year with the intention to find out what steps businesses were taking to reduce their impact on the environment and also to provide them with help where required.

“Really at this point we just want to recognise everybody that is doing something,” she said.

“The things that each business can do will be different depending on their constraints.

“I think it is important for businesses to try and focus on just one thing they do to start with and build it up from there.”

Ms Landsberg said that there were a number of reasons to go green, the most important of which was to save money, in addition to being the right thing to do morally or for the business' image with their clients.

She said that a lot of the practices employed in the workplace could be used at home as well and encouraged people to ask about green products in stores, the availability of which she said was becoming much more widespread and affordable.

“Above all we just want to encourage participation and interest in going green,” she said.

Greenrock President Andrew Vaucrosson said: “We are pleased to partner with The Bottom Line in what we feel is an important step in highlighting to our community what measures can be taken to reduce energy consumption and other sustainability practices. I'd like to thank Judith and the Green Building Forum for bringing this idea to life.

“Many of these practices can also be adopted at home. Greenrock's aim is to get people to recognise and then shift from their old habits and embrace new ones which support healthier, happier and more sustainable lifestyles for everyone. We think the Green Workplace Awards will be a key part to this process.”

A separate awards programme for schools is planned for the future.

To enter the Green Workplace Awards submit a statement of intent before Friday, April 29 and a final submission, including performance data, by Friday, July 15. The deadline for Green Champion entries is Thursday, June 30.

To take part in the competition or for more information visit www.greenrock.org and for a free consultation contact Judith Landsberg at greenoffice[AT]greenrock.org

Dr Judith Landsberg: Urging businesses to think and operate sustainably

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Published March 28, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated March 28, 2011 at 10:10 am)

Search for the ‘green champions’ of Bermuda business is launched

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