January 3, 2006 > Make a difference by being 'green'
Make a difference by being 'green'
by Natalia Smothers
When owners of Pearl's Cafe in Fremont applied for Green Business Program certification, their main objective was receiving additional recognition in the community for practices they believe in.
"We already use organic produce from the J.E. Perry Farms in Ardenwood that is free from pesticides and good for the environment," said Christine Fahey, the restaurant's chef and co-owner. "It seemed natural for us to go all the way, change our waste disposal, lighting and water usage in compliance with the Green Business Program requirements. A lot of our customers, I am sure, appreciate that they have a lunch or a dinner at the restaurant which conserves resources and helps prevent pollution."
Instead of a big 4-cubic-yard dumpster for all of their waste, Pearl's Cafe implemented an extensive recycling system. All recyclable cardboard, paper and glass go into a 2-cubic-yard dumpster and a rollaway curbside bin. The food scraps and green waste are stored in four rollaway curbside green bins for offsite composting into rich soil. The actual un-recyclable trash easily fits in one curbside bin.
"The biggest challenge was rethinking our habits of throwing things away," said Christine. "We are committed to preparing our food quickly to satisfy our guests. It was easier to put all the waste in one trash can and hurry on to prepare another order. With the new system, we had to retrain ourselves and add a few little steps for sorting some of the recyclables into appropriate containers."
The restaurant's dishwashing detergent is also environmentally friendly and doesn't pollute the water supply.
Together with achieving the main marketing objective, Pearl's Cafe has enjoyed some cost savings as well. The water and electricity bills are now about five to 10 percent lower than those before the "green" adjustments. The waste service is cheaper too. Overall expenditures for the "green" reorganization have already been recovered since receiving the Green Business certification in May 2005.
In the entire Bay Area, over 560 certified Green Businesses enjoy similar success. Over 190 of these organizations are in Alameda County - more than in any other county in the Bay Area, according to Pamela Evans, coordinator of Alameda County Green Business Program.
"We have a high concentration of environmentally conscious people here in the East Bay," said Pamela. "Many environmental organizations are especially active in the Oakland and Berkeley area. Our Green Business Program interacts regularly with many of them. We often cross refer people and businesses to each other."
These organizations are becoming Bay Area Green Businesses themselves in many cases. For example, Thimmakka's Resources for Environmental Education in Oakland just received the certificate over the summer. The Ecology Center in Berkeley and Julia Butterfly Hill's organization, Circle of Life, are currently in the process of certifying their offices. As you probably recall, Julia lived in the canopy of an ancient redwood tree for about two years to help make the world aware of the plight of ancient forests. Many of California's oldest redwood trees were being cut for timber.
Another factor in the Alameda County Green Business Program's success is its early start. The county stepped forward to start the pilot program in 1996, a year and a half ahead of other counties. The program started with a focus on a single industry - auto repair. With cooperation from the Automotive Services Council, Chapter 16, one of the council's members, Ed's Auto Clinic in Fremont, became the first certified Green Business in Alameda County and the whole Bay Area.
"I was excited about the program because it not only contributes to clean environment in the community but also provides a safer work setting for the employees," said Ted Patterson, owner of Ed's Auto Clinic.
The number of businesses in the county that adopted "green" practices is still the largest in the auto repairs category. There are 47 companies with green business certification and among those, 14 of them are in the Tri-City area. However, the other categories are rapidly expanding. Pearl's Café was the latest addition to the restaurants category after Sweet Tomatoes in Fremont and Paddy's Coffee House in Union City. Several printing, landscaping and other companies from Tri-City have been added to the directory of the certified firms on the Green Business Program website at www.greenbiz.ca.gov.
Waste recycling and shopping "green" have become household expressions familiar to many environmentally conscious consumers. One of the most comprehensive lists devoted to the environmental issues for residents, local governments, industry and schools is posted on StopWaste.org's website. It also includes information on the relatively new trend of green building.
The green building practice does not necessarily mean that the house should use solar panels for energy conservation. It implies using healthy building materials and services of certified contractors either in construction of new homes or in simple redecoration or remodeling projects.
BuildItGreen.org, a local nonprofit organization, has created several databases of the environment-friendly construction materials specially designed for education of residents who would like to do those projects themselves and for residential building industry professionals.
Often we don't notice that we spend majority of our time indoors. According to EPA reports, the air in new homes can be up to ten times more polluted than outside air due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals used in product manufacturing. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Center for Sustainable Development, buildings consume 40 percent of the world's total energy, 25 percent of wood harvest and 16 percent of the water supply. Compared to traditional construction, a green built home takes some of this pressure off the environment and improves the quality of the home's indoor environment.
Green building construction standards and products also make homes more energy efficient by being well insulated and well sealed, according to BuilItGreen.org. Efficient windows, appliances, lighting and other household equipment help add to the savings and keep the monthly electricity bills up to 65 percent lower.
Overall, one the most important benefits of our participation in all the "green" programs is the feeling that people are being good to the environment and that they are making a difference in the quality of life for the current generation and their children.
For more information, please contact, Bay Area Green Business Program coordinator
Pamela Evans at (510) 567-6770 or visit www.greenbiz.abag.ca.gov, www.StopWaste.Org, or www.BuildItGreen.Org.
Below is a listing of Tri-City area Green Businesses
Auto Diagnosis, 4299 Peralta Blvd. #E (510) 796-8467
Best Graphic Image, 44824 South Grimmer Blvd. (510) 490-9717
Cell Cycle, 791 Rancho Arroyo Pkwy. (510) 791-0439
Del Conte's Landscaping, 41900 Boscell Rd. (510) 353-6030
Ed's Auto Clinic, 37557 Dusterberry Way (510) 797-2996
FedEx Kinko's, 3898 Mowry Ave. (510) 742-0300
Fremont Marriott, 46100 Landing Pkwy. (510) 413-3700
Glenmoor Auto Repair, 4270 Peralta Blvd. (510) 793-3666
Great Gifts Galore, 40733 F Chapel Way (510) 656-4438
In Stride Physical Therapy, 43385 Ellsworth St. (510) 445-0225
Kate's Caring Gifts, 40733 F Chapel Way (510) 796-0555
Pearl's Café, 4096 Bay St. (510) 490-2190
Pete's Foreign Auto Repair, 43203 Osgood Rd. (510) 656-4933
Sweet Tomatoes, 39370 Paso Padre Pkwy. (510) 494-0300
TGIF Body Shop, 4595 Enterprise St. (510) 490-1342
The Pro Shop, 45499 Industrial Blvd. #8 (510) 651-7432
Toyota Logistics Systems, Inc., 45250 Fremont Blvd. (510) 498-7806
Amaral's Muffler & Automotive Center, 37900 Cedar Blvd. (510) 797-9744
Ohlone College Newark Center Office, 39899 Balentine Dr., Suite 220 (510) 742-2327 Tri-Cities One-Stop Career Center, 39899 Balentine Dr., Suite 220 (510) 742-2327
Bay Star Auto Care, 20 Union Square (510) 489-3331
Mitsu Auto Repair, 18 Union Square (510) 471-5699
Paddy's Coffee, 3900 Smith St. (510) 324-8572
U.C. Brakes & Clutches, 26 Union Square (510) 487-7257
Alonzo Printing Company, 3266 Investment Blvd. (510) 293-3940
Andrade's Automotive, 27656 Industrial Blvd. (510) 786-3201
ASAP Printing & Promotions, 1206 W. Winton Ave. (510) 783-7600
Bo's Imports, 28184 Industrial Blvd. (510) 784-0158
De Leon's Auto Repair, 28160 Industrial Blvd. (510) 887-2945
Hayward Auto Chrysler Plymouth Jeep, 20095 Mission Blvd. (510) 278-8600
Reiki Gardens, 22470 Foothill Blvd. (510) 888-2107
Strasser's Automotive, 25711 Dollar St. (510) 538-1828