Yampa Valley Green Business Program debuts, offers businesses incentives | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley Green Business Program debuts, offers businesses incentives

Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Energy Intern Brianna Bruyere. right, works with Manager Brian Erhart at Aspen Tree Service in Steamboat Springs about current and future energy implementations.
Yampa Valley Sustainability Council/Courtesy photo

When Aspen Tree Service in Carbondale expanded to add an office in Steamboat Springs last year, the leadership team wanted to introduce itself to the Yampa Valley in a way as green as the spring leaf color of its namesake tree.

Aspen Tree Service, which merged with Steamboat Lightscapes to form Aspen Tree Service & Lightscapes in February 2021, is the first participant in the Yampa Valley Green Business Program that officially debuted this month.

“Our main objective is to try to lead the industry forward in the best practices as possible and cut down on waste in the landfill, recycle and upcycle as much as we can, keep wiring and copper out of the landfill and use 100% LED lighting,” said Dan Franz, Aspen Tree Service sustainability coordinator.

“At the moment, we’re really close to 100% to keep wood waste out of the landfill,” said Franz, noting people can set up an appointment to visit the business yard at 2645 Jacob Circle to pick up free wood chips after 9 a.m. on Fridays. “It ends up saving the business money from the costs to dump, and ethically, wood chips with stored carbon should stay in the Yampa Valley.”

Franz, who has a degree in environmental resources from Virginia Tech, said the company is working to transition its fleet to be more fuel efficient and recently purchased an all-electric Nissan Leaf with more on order. They hope to receive several back-ordered Ford 150 Lightning all-electric pickups too.

The Yampa Valley Green Business Program is not the first iteration of such a program locally, but now it includes the partnership and supportive tools of the state’s Colorado Green Business Network at CDPHE.colorado.gov/co-green-business, which is under the auspices of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Colorado Green Business Network is a voluntary program that “encourages, supports and rewards superior environmental performers that go beyond the requirements of environmental regulations and move toward the goal of true, operational sustainability,” according to the program website.

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“Our goal is to support organizations throughout the state at any level of implementation in increasing the efficiency and sustainability of their operation through assessing opportunities for growth, recognizing success and providing connections to like-minded businesses throughout the state,” according to the website.

Paul Bony, energy and transportation director at Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, and YVSC Energy Intern Brianna Bruyere, explained the rollout of the Yampa Valley Green Business Program during the YVSC community meeting July 13. Leaders from Steamboat Springs Chamber, Colorado Mountain College-Steamboat, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Big Agnes also spoke in support of the program.

Randy Rudasics, manager of the CMC Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center for 16 years, emphasized the importance of businesses including a sustainability plan within the initial company business plan.

Rudasics said social and political demands for companies to reduce their carbon footprint is growing, and customers increasingly evaluate vendors based on proactive solutions to environmental challenges. He said climate and environmental issues can sometimes take a backseat to the day-to-day challenges of running a small business, so local and state assistance is helpful in those efforts.

When businesses join the green business program at no cost, they receive assistance completing a baseline assessment and use the state’s Greenbiz Tracker to store information on their sustainable practices. After the assessment, businesses can receive technical support and potential grant funding.

Program outcomes may include reductions in business expenses such as the costs of disposal, utilities and more. Growing business sustainability can increase company performance, business reputation with customers, product differentiation, and worker satisfaction and retention.

“Green businesses are becoming an important part of the solution to climate change,” Bruyere said. “According to the 2021 Routt County Climate Action Plan, one of the largest contributing factors to Routt County greenhouse gas emissions was commercial buildings.”

“Our owners have a vision for sustainability,” Franz said. “Obviously to work toward this vision takes a lot of support, so we are super grateful to be partnering with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council on this objective.”

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