Plenty of businesses claim to be “green,” and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce announced a program last week that they hope will help prove it.
Chamber president Steve Clark introduced The GreeNWAy Initiative in a press conference on Friday as a program designed to identify, certify and encourage Fayetteville businesses to conduct themselves in a more environmentally-friendly way.
“The notion is that sustainable practices at the Walmart level are much different than sustainable practices at the the level of a hair salon, lawyer, accountant, architect, or an ice cream shop or cupcake shop. We wanted to find some sustainability expertise that these types of businesses can take advantage of,” Clark said.
The 2-year certification requires that businesses complete a measurement and evaluation program which was developed by the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas. The evaluation is based on six categories; water, education, energy, purchasing, waste, and people. Businesses will be evaluated by students in the UA’s Student in Free Enterprise program in those areas and given a score as well as recommendations for improvement. The businesses will also be required to receive one hour of continuing education on sustainability per quarter to stay certified.
Those who complete the certification process will pay a fee based on their number of employees and will receive a “green” ribbon cutting ceremony and access to storefront decals to identify themselves as GreeNWAy businesses.
Cash East, from the Applied Sustainability Center, said that the most important thing about the program is the ability to measure the impact it will have.
“We want to be able to prove the successes and address the weaknesses,” East said. “At the end of the day, we’ll be able to see exactly how much we’ve improved the lives of people in Fayetteville.”
Three businesses, Courtyard by Marriott, ClubHaus Fitness, and Salon Professionals, will participate in a pilot program for the new initiative. Other businesses will be able to enroll beginning February 2010.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this program,” said TJ Angeleno, manager of Courtyard by Marriott in Fayetteville. “We’ve had a sustainability plan in place for some time, but we can’t do this on our own because we are not sustainability experts.”
Angeleno said he he hopes the program will eventually be something that can be replicated across the region, the state, and in other areas around the country.
GreeNWAy at a glance…
The GreeNWAy Initiative is an education and recognition program to connect people, sustain profits and preserve the planet for the businesses in Northwest Arkansas.
1. Provide affordable sustainability expertise to small businesses and non-profits.
2. Develop guidelines/benchmark tools for GreeNWAy Initiative.
3. Establish NWA GreeNWAy Institute.
4. Support local businesses so they may flourish in a green economy.
Pricing Structure (based on a 2-year period)
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Source: Flyer Staff Report