Green is the new black.
That was the message delivered by Dan Gaddis, director of Sustainability and Energy Management at Real Page Inc., at the Aug. 12 Asheville Green Drinks meeting.
Addressing a small but attentive crowd at the Green Sage Café in downtown Asheville, Gaddis — who also volunteers for the Western North Carolina Alliance and WNC Frack Free — discussed how WNCA had recently obtained a first for regional organizations — a two-year Green Business Certification from Raleigh-based Green Plus. The certification process involved passing a 60-question examination and creating a WNCA Green Team, said Gaddis.
“The Green Business Certification helps hold us accountable to our mission [at WNCA],” he said, explaining how the process helped the nonprofit examine its strengths and weaknesses as an environmental outfit and led to developing a Sustainability Guide. “It gave us a baseline as to where we were as an organization and how we wanted to improve.”
Now that it’s certified, Gaddis said, WNCA staff and volunteers plan to “take it to the streets.” WNCA wants to engage local businesses in sustainability practices, encourage green businesses, strengthen the community and support Asheville in its efforts to incorporate more sustainable and environmentally sound policies, he said.
“We want to get everybody we can to get green certified,” said Gaddis.
A primary incentive for going green is financial, he continued. Gaddis argued that sustainability appeals to consumers and that many customers are likely to choose a green-certified business over a non-certified one. Moreover, aside from the cost of the certification itself, WNCA did not “spend a penny” in the process, he added.
“A little bit of investment now saves a lot more down the road,” Gaddis noted.
Asheville is on the right track as far as incorporating sustainable policies that are environmentally sound, he said. Gaddis mentioned that Asheville Chief Sustainability Officer Maggie Ullman was making progress in developing a sustainability plan for the city.
“It’s nice to live in a city like Asheville that hopes to become a good partner,” Gaddis said.
During a Q&A and discussion that followed the presentation, Sabrina Wells — a development associate for WNCA and a member of its Green Team — talked about how the certification encourages companies to incorporate more socially responsible practices into their business model (maternity leave, living-wage policies, etc.) as well.
“It’s not just about being green. It’s about having programs within the business that are good for the employees,” Wells said. She also referenced the triple-bottom-line theory and talked about how being green and being sustainable went hand-in-hand.
The take-home message for this 517th edition of the Asheville Green Drinks group was that the time for green-certified organizations and sustainable business practices is now. Gaddis reinforced this idea by citing a Chinese proverb that also happens to be his favorite quote: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.”
The next Asheville Green Drinks meeting – “Frack Free NC” – is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the Green Sage Café in downtown Asheville.