As of this week, the City of Tampa became one of just a handful of cities nationwide to start a green business designation program. Outside of the West Coast (California and Washington state), Tampa will join major metropolitan areas like Philadelphia and Knoxville in rewarding private businesses that have become or want to become more environmentally-friendly.
What seems to be unique about the City of Tampa program, compared to other municipalities' programs, is that the city will not be the adminstrator of the program. Because of the expense related to hiring someone to administer the program, the City of Tampa decided to partner with a non-profit local sustainability group, The Sustany Foundation.
"The Sustany Foundation is proud to be partnering with the City of Tampa on this worthwhile endeavor," said Executive Director of the Sustany Foundation, Brian Curry. "We feel that this program has the ability to help impact significant change."
According to a press release from the Mayor's office, the program will officially begin by accepting applications starting September 1, 2009.
The program will come at a small cost for businesses that want to get involved. However, the benefits seem to significantly outweigh the financial obligation for the business. Fees will range from $100 to $1000 annually, depending upon the size (# of employees) of the business. The cost to about 75% of local businesses will be less than $250 per year. This is often a small fraction of marketing expenses usually allocated by businesses and the program should pay for itself through energy efficiency and waste reduction measures.
The program will be run by volunteers at first from the Sustany board, including two LEED accredited professionals and one individual with an MS in Management and Organizational Effectiveness. There will be an online form at www.sustany.org for companies to fill out. Companies are also able to go to the City of Tampa website, www.tampagov.net, to obtain the form. After self-reporting, the participating companies are subject to audit to confirm that they are, in fact, doing what they claimed on the online form.
The Green Business Designation Program idea emerged from Mayor Iorio's Environmental Roundtable of citizens knowledgeable and involved in environmental issues throughout the Bay area and in particular, the City of Tampa. It took approximately eight months for the Sustany Foundation and the Mayor's office to come up with a set of criteria and guidelines for the implementation of the program.
There will be three levels of designation for companies to attain based upon a point system. The intention of the program for the designers was to provide a low-cost way for companies to start thinking sustainably in their operations and to reward them with exposure for their efforts. This initial level of designation awarded will be similar to a "basic" designation. There will be two advanced levels for companies that want to make a greater effort towards sustainable business practices.
For their efforts, businesses will be provided a unique green seal for the business location that achieved the designation. Businesses will also be listed on the City of Tampa website and Sustany websites for consumers that want to patronize local green-friendly companies.
The Sustany Foundation is a local registered 501c3 not for profit corporation started in 2007 by local individuals to assist in changing the wasteful behaviors of individuals and corporations alike in an attempt to improve the quality of life for generations of Tampa Bay residents.