At the Green Awards on March 20th, Clark County honored three Green Businesses with awards for their achievements in sustainability, community and environmental protection during the previous year. Awards went to one small business (25 or fewer employees), one large business (26 or more employees), and one nonprofit or government agency. Read on to learn why the winners were chosen and to gain inspiration for sustainability at your workplace!
Small Business Category (25 or fewer employees)
Barre3 Felida, an exercise studio and retail boutique in Vancouver, was named Small Green Business of the Year because of their diverse approach to being green and their genuine enthusiasm for health, sustainability and the community. Barre3 Felida became a certified Green Business in 2018. Impressively, they produce just one bag of garbage a week despite serving hundreds of clients. They eliminated paper towels by providing an in-house towel service, cleaning the towels with eco-friendly detergent. Barre3 Felida successfully reduced the amount of packaging waste in the store by looking upstream and asking their merchandise suppliers to use less. 100% of the film plastic that is used for their merchandise is recycled. The studio has a water fountain bottle refill station for clients to refill their own durable water bottles. They also use water-efficient appliances, including an on-demand hot water heater that conserves water and energy. In 2018 the studio partnered with Don't Drip and Drive to check 75 client vehicles for oil leaks to protect our watersheds. Stormwater is further protected at Barre3 Felida with their permeable concrete parking lot that decreases run-off of pollutants. To support the community, Barre3 Felida volunteers with and donates to over 100 local causes each year.
Large Business Category (26 or more employees)
WaferTech, a manufacturer of integrated circuits (also known as computer chips) has been Green Business certified since 2012, and was awarded the 2019 Green Business of the Year for the large business category. WaferTech takes sustainability seriously by not only complying with local and federal regulations, but by making new developments to reduce their impact. For the past 20 years they have been creative in finding opportunities to reuse and recycle what would have otherwise been hazardous waste. They have developed and streamlined processes to reuse chemicals needed in production, reducing the amount they need to purchase and dispose of. In 2018, only 1% of their production waste went to the landfill.
Since 2014, WaferTech has participated in the Clark Public Utilities Green Lights program, and in 2018 they purchased energy offsets to reach 100% renewable energy for the entire year. To reduce energy use, they use water cooling towers in place of high-energy refrigeration systems to cool water used in manufacturing. Their onsite water purification plant also allows them to clean and reuse their water, saving over 300 million gallons each year. WaferTech also supports their employees' ventures for sustainability by providing electronics and block foam recycling to employees throughout the year, and they provide food scrap recycling in the cafeteria. They also built employee gardens onsite from waste building materials converted into raised garden beds.
Nonprofit or Government Category
Columbia Springs is a nonprofit environmental education center with 100 acres of nature space, and has been Green Business certified since 2015. They were awarded the 2019 Green Business of the Year for the nonprofit or government category because of their persistent efforts to be green through waste reduction, community outreach and water conservation. Columbia Springs recycles waste from their parks and buildings including scrap plastic, block foam, electronics, hazardous materials and light bulbs. Onsite composting is available to all staff and visitors. In 2018 Columbia Springs staff educated over 18,000 students and adults through their on-site nature field trips, workshops, summer camps, the Columbia River Watershed Festival and other events.
One of the classrooms at Columbia Springs is a cordwood building that was designed to hold heat during the winter and to remain cool during the summer, reducing need for heating and air conditioning. The classroom was built with sustainably sourced materials and has a green roof, rain barrels and a rain garden. In addition, Columbia Springs maintains the historic Vancouver Trout Hatchery and take water conservation seriously. They landscape with native, drought-resistant vegetation, and use mulch and compost throughout their parks to retain soil moisture. As part of an ongoing restoration project, over 900 native trees and shrubs were planted throughout the site in 2018.