Representatives from green business engagement programs are working to create a national association to help companies reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the coordination and impact of these types of programs across the US.
Representatives from 21 such programs met for a first-ever national summit in Boston last month. During the event, attendees decided to create a formal network and organizers have announced the formation of a preliminary task force that will lay the groundwork for a national association of green business engagement programs.
A Better City (ABC), a Boston-based organization that works to improve economic competitiveness by advancing environmental policies and initiatives, hosted the summit.
As part of the National Summit on Green Business Engagement Programs, ABC published a directory of participating programs and a survey of defining characteristics including funding, utility partnerships, number of staff, number of businesses enrolled, reductions, successes and challenges.
The survey found:
- Participating programs work with more than 2,200 businesses.
- About 80 percent of the programs are free for participating businesses (see chart).
- Roughly two-fifths of the programs operate on annual budgets of less than $100,000.
- Utilities are the largest single source of funding, providing support to just over 41 percent of participating programs.
- Only 14 percent of the programs receive state or federal funding.
- The 13 programs that reported reductions have helped businesses cut 644 GWh of electricity usage.
More than 50 different programs now serve several thousand businesses nationwide, ranging from small neighborhood shops to large national corporations, according to ABC.
Programs run by organizations like ABC, the Environmental Defense Fund, and California Green Business Challenge provide participants with sustainability scorecards, energy benchmarking, one-on-one assistance, best practices sharing, online resources and toolkits, marketing and public recognition. Participation is often free or heavily incented through utility and foundation grants.
In Boston, where the city has a climate goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, ABC’s Challenge for Sustainability program is working with more than 100 organizations, including P&G Gillette, John Hancock and Boston Properties, the group says. Last year, participating companies reduced their overall greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent — or 7,000 pounds — from 2011 figures.