Written by The Business Journal Staff
After an energy efficient renovation at the Downtown Business Hub, where the chamber’s offices are located, chamber members decided to start their own green team, modeled after a similar program in Stockton.
Partnering with the Energy Upgrade California initiative, the Fresno Green Team aims to educate businesses on sustainable practices and to help those businesses achieve the California Green Business program’s certification.
Business Diversity Coordinator Jefferson Kuoch-Seng said any business thinking about going green can start by using the My Energy Upgrade California tool online. The tool, he said, provides businesses as well as individuals wanting to do energy upgrades at home with a customized road map, recommending upgrades that can be made to save both energy and money. The energy Upgrade California site also provides information on any rebates that may be available for those who make certain upgrades.
Fixes can be as simple as swapping out light bulbs or as complicated as adding solar panels to the roof.
Whatever changes are made, Kuoch-Seng said businesses have a big impact when they go green.
“The downtown business hub has about 20 tenants,” Kuoch-Seng said. “I don’t know exactly how much each tenant has saved since we made the upgrades, but I know it’s significant.”
Statewide, Certified California Green Businesses have saved more than $33 million according to Energy Upgrade California. Energy-wise, 835,334 metric tons of CO2 and 149,943,108 gallons of water have been saved and 432,917 metric tons of waste diverted.
These numbers reflect the savings of 3,300 businesses in California that have the green certification. The issue is only seven of those businesses are in Fresno. Fresno’s Green Team plans to change that.
“We are the official Fresno representatives of Energy Upgrade California and we go out and assess the businesses for certification,” Kuoch-Seng said. “There was no one in Fresno that did this until we started; the nearest places with green teams were Bakersfield and Stockton. The people from Stockton helped us out a lot as we learned the process. There are only seven green certified businesses in Fresno, which is a drastic contrast to the Bay Area and we want to change that. Having a team here makes it easier because it was difficult to get certified when representatives had to come from Stockton. Now that we can do it here, we hope more businesses will become certified.”
To become a Certified California Green Business, a business must demonstrate that it takes action to conserve resources and prevent pollution in both its facility and its operation. The certification process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year depending on the size of the business and how many changes need to be made.
Chasitie Neal, the program manager for the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, said businesses in newer parts of town have an easier time getting certified, while downtown businesses located in older buildings have to do a major energy overhaul before they can become certified.
“Work spaces being built now are already energy efficient so businesses in a new building can qualify for the certification within a week or two,” Neal said. “It’s tougher when you’re in a historic or older building downtown that needs renovation.”
New or old, Neal said the chamber’s go green team is here to educate and help businesses reduce their carbon footprints.
“This is very new,” Neal said. “We’ve been in development of the green team for a year and half but just started certifying businesses three months ago. Resources are tight because we’re a nonprofit. Our team is spread thin and there are growing pains but the community response is growing and we believe this is important for the Central Valley.”
The public is also welcome to attend the Fresno Green Team’s monthly meetings, which are held the third Wednesday of the month at the Downtown Business Hub at 1444 Fulton Street in Fresno.