Reducing business costs through environmental stewardship

Businesses can save green by going green. Find out how from 9-11 a.m. Jan. 19 at the Small Business Administration district office in Fresno. The address is 801 R St. Suite 201, Fresno, CA. 93721.

There, business owners can learn more about REACON (Recycling Energy Air Conservation), a program administered through the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce's Green Team. The workshop is free, but space is limited. RSVP at

Here is a link to the REACON web site.

REACON has as goals recycling, energy conservation, reduction of air pollution and water conservation. Members of the Stockton chamber's Green Team help businesses throughout the Valley implement green practices, and help them them get certified as "green."

Businesses can become green through a whole host of measures: from simple ones such as affixing signs encouraging water conservation and changing irrigation schedules to implementing "no idle" policies 0n vehicles to more ambitious plans such as installing solar energy systems.

Here is more on REACON.

Coalition seeks to boost Calif. green jobs through recycled manufacturing

California Assembly Bill 32, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 has within it a mandatory commercial recycling component that is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 million metric tons.

To achieve that objective, an additional 2 million to 3 million tons will have to be recycled annually by 2020. A coalition supporting increased manufacturing in California using recycled material wants to divert that waste to in-state companies to increase jobs.

To do this, the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and others have been working to focus the power of AB32 to not only recycle but create opportunity. The Recycling Build Infrastructure Now Coalition seeks to tie the jobs component to the measure's rollout similar to the highly effective "We can do it" campaign of World War II.

The BIN Coalition's summit is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 9 at the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel, 110 W. Fremont St. in Stockton, Calif. The formal rulemaking process for the Mandatory Commercial Recycling Regulation will begin in early September 2011.

The BIN team seeks to include language in the regulation that identifies domestic demand for material to reduce greenhouse gases as well as a number of other measures.

Others in the effort include the California Association of Recycling Market Development Zones, the California Product Stewardship Council Board, the California Resource Recovery Association, the Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and the California Association of Local Economic Development.

Home builder tests water efficient housing

A Los Angeles home builder has embraced water conservation, at least on a trial basis.

KB Homes has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, building the first homes in the nation to be certified by the agency's WaterSense program, agency officials reported. The four homes are in Roseville, Calif. and are expected to help families save 20 percent over the run of the mill home, or an average of 10,000 gallons of water and at least $100 on utility costs each year.

“The construction of the first WaterSense labeled homes, and the plans to build more, mark the beginning of an innovative approach that gives homeowners the chance to cut their water and energy bills and protect a vital environmental resource.” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, in a statement.

The program, which seeks to help home buyers cut their water and energy use, serves as another indication of where the industry appears to be headed. Energy efficiency and water conservation are big in California and gaining prominence throughout the West and South where water allocation issues appear to be cultivating nothing less than high anxiety.

I'm reminded of Jack Nicholson in the movie "China Town," in which John Huston, as villain Noah Cross, says, "Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water."

It's all about water. Was then and it is now.

Frank Ferral, who heads the Recycling Energy Air Conservation program for the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, has been spreading the conservation message to business -- and anybody else who will listen -- for the better part of the past decade. His point is relatively simple: Saving energy and water and keeping waste out of the trash makes economic sense.

Hundreds of businesses have signed up for his program in which a team of experts goes through a building and identifies areas that can benefit from installation of energy efficient lighting, water saving devices and waste diverting practices. The REACON program in Stockton has helped develop an industry manufacturing products out of former debris.

With a recent grant, Ferral has been expanding his program and message throughout California's Central San Joaquin Valley. His concept has been to team up with chambers of commerce and offer them up the team energy audit concept so the chambers can provide it as a value-added product to members.

I tagged along on a couple of audits in Fresno, one at a bank and another at a business in an old downtown building. The lighting expert said he could get immediate savings of about 20 percent on the bank and more than 30 percent on the older building. The water savings were more basic, adding a 1.2-gallon flush toilet among other measures.

The EPA has entered into a consumer friendly realm with its WaterSense site, which offers tips and quantifies retrofit measures. Each of its WaterSense houses includes aptly labeled plumbing fixtures, an efficient hot water delivery system, water-efficient landscape design and other water and energy-efficient features.

EPA officials estimate that if the approximately 500,000 new homes built last year had met WaterSense criteria, the homes would save Americans 5 billion gallons of water and more than $50 million in utility bills annually.

Yeah, it's in the water.