California small businesses! Get recognized for your green business accomplishments!

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2013 Award Winners

The 4th CoolCalifornia Small Business Awards Program recognized 13 winners (3 Business of the Year winners and 10 Climate Leader winners) representing a wide variety of businesses across the state. Winners were recognized at an awards ceremony held in Sacramento on February 12, 2014. Presented below are photos from the ceremony and information on each of the winning businesses.

Conejo Awards

Visit: http://www.conejoawards.com/
Business of the Year

As the first business to be certified “green” by the City of Thousand Oaks and a 2010 CoolCalifornia Climate Leader award winner, Canejo Awards is considered one of the leaders in green innovation.  This business produces and provides trophies, wood and acrylic plaques, crystal awards, and thousands of other promotional items to their customers.  Conejo Awards has long focused on environmentally sustainable business practices by continuing to purchase refillable, bulk ink cartridges and only 100% post-consumer and recycled-content office supplies.  They reuse all packaging.  The firm does all of its purchasing and billing online.  Since 2012, Conejo Awards has transitioned all vendor payments from hard copy to electronic payments and 90% of their marketing to e-marketing.  They have also installed electronic data and telecommunications systems so that all paperwork and correspondences are done electronically.  Bi-weekly meetings with clients are now conducted virtually using GoToMeeting® and Skype™ resulting in a savings of over 800 vehicle miles traveled each month.Conejo Awards aggressively recycles 100% of all brass, aluminum and plastics that are used in the production facility.  In 2013, Conejo Awards replaced their older 24 mile per gallon (mpg) company vehicle with a newer, more fuel efficient model that gets 48 mpg, reduces CO2 emissions by 10 tons/year,  and saves over $2,900/year in fuel costs.  Conejo Awards also recently retrofitted their lights and ballasts to an energy-efficient ‘white light’ system, and installed programmable thermostats and smart power strips that automatically turn off all phantom outlets when not in use.  They’ve installed energy efficient high velocity fans to increase airflow in each office and all production areas, allowing the average air conditioning temperature to be set higher with a lower temperature feel due to the increased airflow.  As a result of its many sustainable actions, Conejo Awards has been able to decrease electrical use by 25%, saving them thousands of dollars.  As part of their educational outreach program, they use theCoolCalifornia calculator regularly to identify actions they can take to reduce their carbon footprint, reward employees for their waste reduction efforts by refunding the revenue earned from recycling to the staff, and pay the fuel bill for employees who participate in the company’s ride sharing program.  They also implemented a formal environmental policy that is shared with other companies and actively participate in community events, green business committees, and local organizations.


E & B Auto Repair

Visit: http://www.eandbautorepair.com/
Business of the Year

This automotive repair and certified smog check test station is proud to be one of the few north coast California Certified Green Stations.  E & B Auto Repair prides itself on providing environmentally responsible service to its customers.  By installing a roof-mounted solar power system, E & B has been able to generate more electricity than the shop requires and projects a full return on their investment after only 8 years.  Prior to installing their solar power system, E & B conducted an energy audit and reduced energy consumption throughout the shop by installing lighting retrofits with motion sensors.  This allowed them to purchase a smaller solar power system, saving over $6,000, while providing 30% increased lighting in the shop.In addition to energy conservation and renewable energy, E & B Auto Repair has implemented many water saving features.  In 2012, they removed a petroleum-based solvent parts washer and replaced it with a Smart Washer aqueous process machine (saving $42/month).  The Smart Washer is also used for brake assembly cleaning, which has drastically reduced the amount of aerosol brake cleaner used at the shop.  To conserve water, they stopped washing cars at the shop (saving over 2,200 gallons of water/month) and began purchasing car wash coupons to give to customers, valid at the local commercial car wash where water is recycled.  In addition, E & B adopted a 4-step dry shop method of floor cleaning, putting the finishing touch on their water conservation efforts!  One of their most noticeable sustainable actions is that they power their business transportation with renewable energy.  E & B has a solar-electric NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) for transporting their customers and running errands around town.  This handy 4-passenger, low speed vehicle has a solar roof so it charges anytime it’s in the sunlight, saves over $300/year in fuel costs, and reduces emissions.  Employees are engaged in their sustainability efforts, often present new and innovative ideas to the owner, and are rewarded with dinner or a gift certificate if their recommendations are implemented.  E & B is a shining example of what a small business can do to reduce their carbon footprint, save money, and engage others in their community to take sustainable actions.


El Primero Boutique B&B Hotel

Visit: http://www.elprimerohotel.com/
Business of the Year

This historic bed and breakfast boutique hotel provides quaint accommodations for travelers while working diligently towards environmental sustainability.  The owners and innkeepers have transformed the long-standing historic El Primero Hotel into a green haven for local and international visitors and have incorporated sustainable action into nearly every aspect of its small business operations.  In addition to the rooftop installation of 18 solar photovoltaic panels, which produce an average of 21 kilowatt hours of clean electricity to help run the hotel, El Primero has implemented a number of energy conservation measures, such as upgrading to ENERGY STAR® appliances and installing energy efficient lighting in each room.  They have worked to conserve water by installing low-flow toilets and showerheads in each of the hotel’s bathrooms and have significantly reduced the amount of waste going to landfills through ambitious recycling efforts.  These actions earned them a CoolCalifornia Small Business Excellence award in 2009.

Since that then, El Primero has gone even further by replacing all old TVs with newer LED/LCD units, changing manual light switches to those with motion sensors, and upgraded CFL lighting to LED (saving over 7% on their energy bill).  They also plan to install a solar-wind hybrid power plant in 2014.  In addition, they’ve established two compost bins for scrap food waste, planted palm trees to help shade the building over time, reused paint and purchased low-VOC products for maintenance, converted all watering systems to drip irrigation, and ride electric bikes for errands and meetings.  Of particular importance to the innkeepers is educating guests about the hotel’s conservation efforts using placards in each room and through the food they serve.  They grow fruits onsite such as pineapple, papaya and mangos that are served for breakfast, and offer seedlings to guests as a memento of their visit to their hotel.  El Primero prides itself on being a rare gem in the heart of downtown Chula Vista, highlighting the local area’s historic treasures and emphasizing the importance of environmental sustainability.


Capitola Veterinary Hospital

Visit: http://capitolaveterinaryhospital.com/
Climate Leader

Capitola Veterinary Hospital is committed to reducing their environmental impacts in every way possible. Part of their mission statement is to practice their profession “with respect for Life and Earth”.   As a certified green business under the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program, they have converted to paperless medical records by digitalizing all patient records, in-hospital, and client communications (saving ~$550/year); installed digital x-ray processing units; saved water by installing low-flow toilets and sinks; eliminated paper by using laminated sheets; painted the hospital with zero volatile organic compound (VOC) paint; replaced all lights with T8 fluorescents or LEDs (saving ~$600/year); purchased green products (i.e., laundry detergent, hand soaps, cleaning products); installed an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat; developed partnerships with vendors and local groups who share their passion for protecting and preserving nature; and established a recycling program.  Styrofoam™ coolers are given to the “Waste to Waves” program that turns recycled Styrofoam into surfboard blanks. Some of their hospital uniforms are also made from recycled materials.


Monterey County Weekly

Visit: http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/
Climate Leader

Monterey County Weekly is an independent and locally owned paper that has become a recognized leader for journalism and community service, and now, sustainability.  In 2013, their headquarters building, constructed in 1960, became the first commercial building in the tri-county area (Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito) to obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification.  This effort took nearly two years to complete and included a significant commitment in time, resources, and money.  They replaced all glass with double-pane insulated windows and doors; updated furnaces; installed a 33KW solar array (resulting in a cost savings of ~ $10,000/year and recognition as the first newspaper in the country to run on 100% solar power); added drip irrigation; installed low flow toilets and low flow aerators on the faucets in all bathrooms; updated computers to more energy efficient systems; and installed LED lights throughout the building.  They also reduced their waste by composting and redirecting nearly 80% of it into the recycling stream.  Monterey County Weekly also incorporates green practices into their Employee Handbook; encourages staff to walk or bike to work; provides weekly delivery of local organic produce to the staff; offers free health club memberships; sponsors a local green business conference; and supports local environmentally-focused nonprofit organizations.


Nortra-Cables, Inc.

Visit: http://www.nortra-cables.com/
Climate Leader

Nortra-Cables, Inc., which offers custom cable and wire harness design, prototyping and manufacturing services for medical, computer, communications, industrial, and electromechanical applications, is constantly striving to reduce its carbon footprint.  They started a simple plastic recycling program that quickly grew to incorporate paper, corrugated cardboard/shipping materials, and scrap metal recycling (including copper, polyvinyl chloride insulations, etc.).  The cost savings from recycling are used to pay for holiday parties and other employee perks.  With no noticeable loss of brightness, they updated their lighting ballasts and used more efficient T8 fluorescent lights, resulting in a cost savings of ~$14,700/year (a 40% annual savings and a 4 month return on investment).  Nortra-Cables replaced 24 toilets and faucets with low flow devices at no cost by participating in California Green Initiatives and Santa Clara Valley Water District incentive programs.  They are a certified California Green Business and follow various programs to ensure manufacturing accountability for hazardous chemicals and metals.


Ohana Pet Hospital

Visit: http://www.ohanapethospital.com/
Climate Leader

Opened in December 2012, Ohana Pet Hospital is a full-service veterinary clinic that is committed to environmental sustainability and serving as a role model for small businesses.  The hospital was constructed using green building materials including zero-emission paints, plant-based and Green Guard Indoor Air Quality Certified anti-microbial flooring and recycled content cabinet laminates, LED lighting, EPA-recommended insulation to maximize the HVAC system efficiency, and recycled glass reception counter tops.  They also installed energy efficient appliances and air conditioning system, low flow toilets, and occupancy sensor switches.  At Ohana, medical, financial, and human resources records are paperless due to the purchase of an efficient software system, tablet laptops, digital X-rays, Dropbox file sharing, and the use of direct deposit by all staff members. They established a recycling program for cardboard/paper/cans/plastic; purchase recycled-content office supplies; provide reusable tote bags to their clients; and donate Styrofoam™ boxes to a wildlife research facility.  Their actions have resulted in a cost savings of over $10,000/year.  Ohana also partnered with the City of Ventura, Community Memorial Health System, and Ventura County Medical Center in the “Blue Drapes Project” that redistributes the outer wraps of surgical equipment packs to other veterinary hospitals and diverts thousands of pounds of waste from landfills.  They hosted a Ventura Chamber of Commerce Green Task Force “Best Green Practices” workshop to educate other medical facilities and small businesses and were awarded the Ventura County Climate Change Award in April 2013.


PaperCulture.com

Visit: http://www.paperculture.com/
Climate Leader

PaperCulture.com is an e-commerce business that has incorporated sustainability into all aspects of their business operations.  The firm designs products such as holiday cards, invitations, announcements, stationery, wall art, and labels with the environment in mind.  They use 100% post-consumer recycled paper and bamboo for wall art, plant a tree in a U.S. national forest with every order placed (the goal of their “Cards to Trees” program is to plant one million trees), and purchase carbon offsets.  PaperCulture.com educates their employees in green business practices.  They reduce/reuse/recycle materials; purchase environmentally friendly supplies; use Green Seal cleaning materials; conserve energy/water/natural resources; and walk, take public transportation, or drive an alternative fuel vehicle to work.  PaperCulture.com purchased ENERGY STAR appliances and monitors and implemented a recycling program for the entire building with help from the local city council.  And they are active members of the Bay Area Green Business Program.  The owners also used the CoolCalifornia carbon footprint calculator to show their landlord the cost savings recognized by reducing waste, recycling materials, and composting.  


Quick Mount PV

Visit: http://www.quickmountpv.com/
Climate Leader

Quick Mount PV was founded in 2006 to bring cost-effective, code-compliant, waterproof rooftop mounting systems to the solar industry. As much as possible, they use recycled content aluminum because it requires only 5% of the energy needed to produce aluminum from virgin sources and can be recycled indefinitely.  Stainless steel raw materials are used in their products when essential to quality and their average recycled content across all metals is 68%. Quick Mount PV is committed to integrating sustainable practices into the daily operations of their 90,000 square foot facility in Walnut Creek.  They are a Bay Area Certified Green Business and have replaced the floodlights in their parking lot with low-wattage LEDs and de-lamped light fixtures throughout the compound (saving $14,000 annually).  They optimized the HVAC schedules to conserve energy; started on-site composting; established a company garden; and implemented a comprehensive Environmental Management System.  The firm purchased a Tesla and Chevy Volt for business related travel and staff carpool or take public transportation to work.  In case they are missing any possible opportunity, Quick Mount management holds quarterly staff meetings to review their sustainability progress.


Sacramento Event Planners

Visit: http://saceventplanners.com/
Climate Leader

Sacramento Event Planners (SEP) provide eco-friendly and zero-waste event planning services, eco-event audits, sustainable event management education, and consultation.  The solar-powered office includes an energy efficient printer/copier, energy and water saving fixtures, a composting bin, a recycling station, and edible landscaping.  SEP provides their clients with sustainable options for their planned events, including local farm venues; green printing and clothing; locally-grown food and flowers; event stylists who specialize in refurbished antiques (the ultimate form of recycling); local equipment rentals ; eco-friendly invitations ; water dispensers to eliminate water bottle waste; and on-site waste collection.  They also partner with Atlas Disposal to provide composting and recycling stations.  SEP provides green vendor contracts prior to an event to set expectations on waste handling before and during the event and assists vendors in finding more sustainable options for any service or product they need.  They also engage and educate the guests at their events through their Sustainable Education Program, which includes onsite surveys using an iPad, highlighting the green practices of vendors, clearly identifying recycling and composting bins, and providing survey participants with a sticker to wear during the event that says “I have had my carbon footprint counted”.  Results of the survey, along with information on the actions taken to reduce environmental impacts, are provided to the client following the event.  The owner of SEP also teaches a Green Event Management course at Sacramento State University in which the students use the CoolCalifornia small business carbon calculator to determine their carbon footprints.


The Bath Workshop

Visit: http://www.thebathworkshop.com/
Climate Leader

The Bath Workshop creates custom blended bath and body products that are all natural and safe for the environment.  They reuse packing materials when sending products to customers; use “junk mail” to pad packages; reuse boxes and bubble wrap; turn lights off when not needed throughout the shop; wash towels only when there is full load; use recycled paper products; encourage employees to bike, walk, or carpool whenever possible; and use vendors and suppliers who are committed to sustainable practices.  They also switched to lower wattage florescent bulbs and purchased a hybrid vehicle.  The Bath Workshop invites customers to bring back their “empty” containers and offers them a monetary incentive for recycling.  In their employee handbook, it states the importance of being as “green as possible” and finding ways to reduce, reuse, and save.  The employees are proud of the actions they have taken to reduce their carbon footprint, enjoy talking to customers about actions they can take to go green, and serve as role models to other businesses in town.


The Inn on First

Visit: http://www.theinnonfirst.com/
Climate Leader

The Inn On First was the first northern California Bed and Breakfast Inn to be certified “green” by the State of California.  As a proud members of the California Green Lodging Association and the Bay Area Green Business Association, The Inn On First has implemented a number of actions including the installation of low-flow water sources for showers, tank-less water heaters, energy saving light bulbs, and in-room climate control systems; replacement of individually packaged shower amenities with dispensers, plastic water bottles with stainless steel water bottles, and plastic or paper glassware with reusable glassware; composting of kitchen and garden waste; and use of a green-certified sheet and towel service, natural cleaning and garden products, 100% recycled tissue, and snack and food storage bags that are made of 100% home-compostable cellulose wood fiber.  They also track their energy performance using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® program and have a defined guest education program in which they point out some of the features of the inn/room amenities that support their green practices. Although the cost of sheet replacement has saved ~$3,000/year, using bulk shower amenities saved $300/year and recycling separation has saved ~400 hours/year in employee labor, the best return on their investment has been the satisfaction of the guests who appreciate their sustainable efforts.


The Rising Loafer Cafe and Bakery

Visit: http://www.therisingloafer.localon.com/
Climate Leader

The Rising Loafer Café and Bakery’s mission is to “contribute to the well-being of their community by serving food for people who eat well and live longer away from illness”.  Serving breakfast and lunch, they design their menu with locally grown ingredients free from additives and toxins to help reduce the business’ carbon footprint and support the local economy.  They also started a back-business garden and are a certified Bay Area Green Business.  The Rising Loafer Café and Bakery has reduced their waste over 80% by recycling, reusing, and refurbishing materials.  They banned Styrofoam™ products, use “real” plates and silverware; recycle animal fats/plastics/cardboard/cans/and glass; made tables out of old doors; use environmentally friendly cleaning products; installed low flow faucets and toilets; use energy and water efficient appliances; replaced light bulbs with energy saving units; and installed timers on equipment.  The owners are also recognized leaders in sustainability and regularly share their green restaurant knowledge and experience with other businesses in the community while also training young adults in environmentally friendly operation of restaurants by partnering with the Job Corp of America and the Berkeley Youth Alternative to offer internships.