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November 16, 2010 > Businesses cut costs while protecting planet

Businesses cut costs while protecting planet

Submitted By Pamela Evans

Save money. Conserve resources. Create green jobs. What's not to love?

Free energy audits, including rebates to help pay for modifications, are available to East Bay companies through a partnership between the Alameda County Green Business Program, PG&E and Laney College.

Just ask Pam Banducci, owner of Pete's Foreign Auto Repair in Fremont. Pete's needed more efficient lighting for its Green Business Program re-certification. The GBP put the company in touch with the B.E.S.T. (Business Energy Solutions Team) Lighting Program.

B.E.S.T, a PG&E partner, covered the entire cost of new fluorescent boxes. Banducci's total bill, including installation in 23-foot high ceilings, was just over $500. She estimates the improvement will pay for itself in about a year.

"They were wonderful," she gushes. "The lighting is 50 percent brighter, we added a fixture, and yet we are paying 30 to 40 percent less for electricity."

"It's the best of both worlds," she added, no pun intended. "We're minimizing our electrical usage and using new, green technology. Once the initial investment pays for itself, we'll start reaping an even greater reward. Plus we have a better lit work environment!"

That's not all. The audits are providing on-the-job experience to a select group of students in Laney College's Building Performance & Energy Efficiency Program. The students are specially trained to conduct assessments and prepare practical recommendations for each business they audit.

"Our auditors explain best practices for energy conservation in an office environment, including energy-efficient lighting, good HVAC maintenance, and office equipment settings that cut energy use," explains GBP Coordinator Pamela Evans. "If a lighting upgrade is needed, they'll share information about programs such as B.E.S.T. Lighting and SmartLights, which offer lighting evaluation, replacement and rebates."

Free energy audits aren't the only benefit to becoming a county-certified Green Business, Evans adds. There are also new business opportunities and free marketing, promotion and advertising. The Fremont City Council, for example, recognized new and re-certified Green Businesses at its Nov. 2 council meeting.

Whoever said, "It ain't easy being green" didn't have the opportunity to take advantage of free energy conservation audits provided through Alameda County's Green Business Program and its partners. To enroll and become eligible for a free audit, contact:
* GreenBusinessCA.org
* Pamela.Evans@acgov.org
* (510) 567-6770

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