Friday, November 21, 2008

Energy $ense: Sustainable Business Leader Program

The Friends of the Franklin Public Library sponsored the 2nd installment of The Franklin Area Climate Team’s “Energy $ense” Series on Thursday, November 13th. The seminar: “How Businesses Get Help Going Green” with Alex Chamberlain, Director of the Sustainable Business Leader Program.

The Sustainable Business Leader Program (SBLP) offers assistance to small to medium sized businesses in Boston and the surrounding areas to improve their current practices in energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, waste reduction, transportation efficiency and sustainability management. The program provides: guidance in assessing your company’s current sustainability condition, help in developing an Action Plan to improve it and on-going assistance and monitoring.

A diverse group of businesses is participating currently in Boston; Boston Duck Tours through to Mom/Pop type shops. A listing of the 27 businesses in the program can be found on the SBLP website here. (

What is the Sustainable Process? The process starts with the sustainability assessment form (PDF). It is rather extensive and detailed with 94 questions. Completion of the form is followed by a site evaluation. The evaluation confirms answers to the survey questions and results in research that produces an assessment. The assessment provides recommendations for an action plan. The business creates the plan. SBLP personnel are available to work with the business to help develop the plan. Ultimately the SBLP reviews plan and approves.

How else can SBLP help your business? The SBLP held a gathering for restaurants and cafes to review sustainable practices. Sustainable practices are hard to do effectively as the business are small operations and are heavily driven by the immediate needs of their customers. The roundtable conversation was successful. The ripple effect of the discussion around locally sourced food was impressive and unexpected. Not only were the restaurants and cafes interested, but other companies were looking for local food for their cafeterias and break rooms.

They are exploring similar events for other groupings of companies to better meet their needs. SBLP has scheduled a “greentech” event for Dec 10th

How much of an opportunity is there? In 2006, it was estimated that there were 650,000 small businesses in Massachusetts alone. It is likely there are more today than then, therefore the work opportunity is great.

What does the program cost? The SBLP program costs $500. The individual company would pay $250 and the local chamber or other sponsor group would contribute $250.

What is the key to success? Whether the program starts at the top leadership of the company, or starts at the bottom, or anywhere in between, having a champion to keep the initiative going usually ensures a successful program.

Somerville has a similar program for the Davis Square area. The local businesses got together and determined to create a sustainable environment as a way of differentiating themselves from Harvard Square. For more information on the green effort you can visit their web site here. (

For more information on a sustainable process for your Franklin area business, please email Ted McIntyre of the Franklin Area Climate Team at or call 508-528-7765

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