In an event in Pleasantville, the Business Council of Westchester recognized 80 county companies for their achievements and efforts as participants in The Westchester Green Business Challenge.
“These companies go a long way toward branding Westchester as sustainable, green and on the cutting edge of environmental technology and practices,” said Dr. Marsha Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Westchester.
“Taking the Challenge,” as stated on the Westchester County website, may require individual initiative on the part of a business, but once onboard, going it alone is not the idea.
Through networking breakfasts, online connection to participating members and access to case studies, a community is created where useful ideas abound.
“There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel,” said County Executive Rob Astorino, explaining there are proven strategies that have already been implemented.
Energy, transportation, land use and water and waste management round out the areas that challengers undertake. On the low end, in terms of complication and cost, businesses will find suggestions such as CFL lighting, providing bike racks, planting trees and keeping faucets leak free.
Solar power and installation of green roofs obviously range toward the top side of adjustments.
Either way, said Astorino, “It’s not only right for the environment but for your bottom line.”
Of course, the jumping off point for any business is accepting short term loss for long term gain. Real Estate Property Manager Jeffrey Stillman concurs on his efforts to bring fuel efficiency to the buildings his company is hired to make recommendations for.
“The challenge is money,” he said, but once the funding is there, the incentive to do it is easy.
Senior Vice President Fred Sciliano of C.W. Brown can point to the positive cost/benefit ratio in its bottom line as general contractors but also said the company has moved forward upon the vision of its founder, who passed away suddenly last week.
“He wanted to do what we could for the environment,” said Sciliano of Charles Brown.
Joanne Deyo of Regeneron has a similar mindset.
“We do right by doing right things," said the Tarrytown pharmaceutical’s vice president, “and sustainability measures are some of those right things.”
At the telecommunications company Steadfast, sustainability is both internal and external. They have gone paperless and dropped fuel usage by 50 percent with energy efficient equipment and building conservation implementations, said President Rafael Abada.
On the outside, Steadfast enables clients to turn each home computer into office or board room space. With video conferencing and telecommunication technologies, he said, There’s less reason to travel so information can find you no matter where you are.
Hastings' Lea Cullen Boyer operates from that outlet as managing director of the Green Guru. A social media platform of ideas, articles and connectivity, it moves with a sense of urgency.
As the seriousness of global warming elevates, she said, “We need to make this work faster.”
Dani Glaser of Green Team Spirit, who organized the affair with Scott Fernqvist of Westchester County and Neil Culter of Synergis, envisions the recognition of local businesses leading to a brighter future. The organizers hope Wednesday's event inspires people to learn from each other, while celebrating being part of this exciting movement.