The Westchester Green Business Challenge (WGBC) kicked off its second full year of operation at Atria on the Hudson – Westchester’s first green senior living community – on Sept. 21 in Ossining, New York.
An innovative private-public partnership between Westchester County and The Business Council of Westchester, the WGBC is a “friendly competition” designed to help all 35,000 companies in Westchester County move down the path toward environmental sustainability while improving performance and saving money.
Drawing more than 100 attendees, the breakfast event (“Mastering the Green Business Challenge: Working Toward Your Goals”) highlighted the WGBC’s plans for the year ahead and challenged attendees to identify and implement at least three green goals over the next six months. The event was sponsored by Con Edison.
Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester, welcomed attendees and provided a recap of the green business program’s accomplishments to date, which include:
• More than 200 registered companies, spanning all sizes and business sectors.
• A highly successful recognition event earlier this year and educational breakfast series that highlighted some of the most relevant topics in the area of best green business practices.
• Expansion of the WGBC website (www.westchestergov.com/greenchallenge), including the launch of a Westchester Green Business Directory and 20 local green business case studies.
Scott Fernqvist of Westchester County presented an upgraded web platform for the program that will be made available to participating companies in the coming months. Through the new portal, WGBC participants will be able to submit and update their scorecards, post case studies, search member profiles, and more, from one central web-based location. Currently, participants receive an interactive Excel-based scorecard upon registering that features up to 82 actions a company can take to reduce its environmental impact.
Neil Cutler, Founder of Synergis and WGBC consultant, went on to highlight specific actionable strategies from each of the scorecard categories: Outreach, Energy, Transportation, Land Use, Water Resources, and Waste/Recycling/Green Procurement. Cutler challenged WGBC participants to identify their top three goals and to create and implement a plan for achieving those goals over the next six months.
Dani Glaser, Founder of Green Team Spirit and fellow WGBC consultant, wrapped up the morning with an in-depth presentation on the program’s renewed focus on buildings in Westchester County. Glaser reminded the audience that according to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), U.S. buildings account for:
• 40 percent of total energy use/ 72 percent of electricity consumption
• 38 percent of greenhouse gas emissions
• 61 percent of non-residential waste
Glaser also announced a new partnership between the WGBC and the Environmental Protection
Agency. Starting this fall, the WGBC will provide support and customized training on EPA’s Portfolio Manager, an interactive energy management tool that allows companies to track and assess energy and water consumption across an entire portfolio of buildings. The tool is already being used in similar green business programs across the U.S. and will allow the WGBC to start quantifying reductions in both greenhouse gas emissions and energy/water costs among participating companies.
The WGBC fall kick-off event was hosted by Atria on the Hudson, a green senior living community and active member of the WGBC located in Ossining. Jennifer Picucci, sales director for Atria Senior Living provided participants with an overview of the facility’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Participants were also invited to take a tour of the facility following the program.
For more information about the WGBC, visit www.westchestergov.com/greenchallenge.