By Aisling Maki, The Daily News
A public-private partnership called Team Green Zone, spearheaded by the Bartlett Area Chamber, is helping Mid-South businesses implement long-term sustainable practices to protect the environment while helping businesses boost their bottom lines.
The chamber-led alliance of efficiency experts helps companies develop strategies to reduce their commercial and industrial facilities’ energy consumption, increase operational efficiencies and reduce their carbon footprints. And going green can be good for business because it demonstrates to consumers a company’s commitment to being a good environmental steward.
Team Green Zone was established in late 2010 by the chamber in response to a growing demand from chamber members who wanted to “green” their businesses.
The chamber brought in regional energy efficiency expert Clayton Poff to launch the initiative. “The community was screaming for this type of service,” said Poff, director of resource efficiency at the Bartlett Area Chamber. “So we sat down and created this service focused specifically around the manuals of how to take a business step by step to what people call green. … Now, under a chamber of commerce, we have that capability of injecting those processes in a unique way.”
Team Green Zone connects seekers of efficiency solution seekers with private-sector providers – 26 companies in all, with more than 400 industry professionals – who use their expertise to implement ways for companies to operate more sustainably.
Providers include CB Richard Ellis Memphis, Comfort Systems USA, Pathway Lending, A2H and Ewing Kessler Inc.
“The chamber is the educational arm,” said Team Green Zone operations manager Kenneth Lee. “They take all of the information, condense it and give it to businesses. … We’ve melded the educational process with the business community so that the seekers have access to the professionals that know the how-to. We bring those two together; that is the uniqueness of Team Green Zone.”
Team Green Zone also helps companies establish environmental policies, as well as comply with constantly changing government regulations. In fact, Team Green Zone has also been praised as a success story on the website of Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, whose goal is to help Americans save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.
When a Mid-South business reaches out to Team Green Zone, the first step is to assess the business’ energy use and set goals for lowering that usage, as well as operations costs. Team Green Zone also performs services such as occupancy education, plug load evaluations, and upgrades to lighting controls, building envelopes and HVAC systems.
Following the assessment, the team creates a step-by-step plan of action to be implemented over the course of about one and a half to two years, and includes connecting business owners with the contractors capable of performing the necessary upgrades.
Types of facilities receiving the Team Green Zone makeover include government, health care, academic, industrial, hospitality, retail, real estate, churches and water or wastewater facilities.
One of Team Green Zone’s great success stories has been its green transformation of Brother International Corp.’s Bartlett facility, 7777 N. Brother Blvd., which has seen a 60 percent reduction in its utility bills.
“Team Green Zone has been by our side every step of the way through the Energy Star Process … and helped us identify new revenue streams that we were not aware existed when this process began,” said Steve Tuttle, director of facilities at Brother International Corp.
Just 16 months after its launch, Team Green Zone already had 60 businesses participating in the program, with an estimated total direct economic impact of more than $2.4 million.
In fact, Team Green Zone is now helping other chambers to implement similar initiatives. Poff and Bartlett chamber president and CEO John Threadgill serve on the advisory board of Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, which assists chambers across the country in becoming clean energy leaders.