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Sustainable Business Awards Recognize Green Companies

Published: February 18, 2010
On Friday, Feb. 19, Earth Charter U.S. will hold its second annual Sustainable Business Awards luncheon in partnership with The University of Tampa’s Center for Ethics. Eighteen local businesses will be honored in a ceremony from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on the 9th floor of Vaughn Center on the UT campus.

The companies were chosen out of 32 nominees by graduate students in a class taught by Jan Roberts, founder of Earth Charter and an adjunct instructor at UT. Under the guidance of Roberts and Dr. Daniel Verreault, co-director of the Center for Ethics, the students developed the criteria for the awards using several sources, including Global Reporting Initiatives, Sustainable Seattle, Sustainable Florida and the U.N. Global Compact.

“These companies are setting the standards for Tampa Bay area sustainability practices,” said Verreault. “They are taking a people, profit, planet approach to company policies and also realizing significant cost-savings in their operations.”

The 18 awardees are:

Large Business Category, 251 or more employees:

Progress Energy
McNichols Company
DLA Piper
Sandpearl Resort

Medium Business Category, 51 to 250 employees:

Pender Newkirk & Company
Infinity Business Systems
Creative Recycling Systems
Creative Contractors
Rev1 Power Services
Coastal Caisson

Small Business Category, 50 or fewer employees:

Rising Force Construction
IT Authorities
Nvirotect Services
Walker Brands
Bay Tech Label
Happy Feet Plus

Special Award for Innovation:

K.B. Industries Inc.

The following case studies show what three businesses did to earn the Sustainable Business Award.

In the small business company it was Walker Brands, a strategic branding company that brings clients’ brands to life. Walker Brands is also the first privately-funded company with a “GOLD” LEED-certified building. The building features roofing material that minimizes heat absorption, features to reduce heat flow and maintain comfortable climate conditions, native landscape requiring less irrigation, motion-sensored lighting, and reclaimed heart pine wood flooring. More than 75 percent of the building is exposed to natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting. The design of the building has helped reduce energy consumption by 30 percent and water consumption by more than 40 percent.

The medium company is Pender Newkirk & Company, Tampa Bay's largest locally owned accounting and business consulting firm. The company took a big step toward going paperless in 2005 when it reinvested half its profits in state-of-the art software programs that allow employees to store files electronically, receive faxes via e-mail, utilize electronic payroll and scan documents to share with co-workers rather than creating copies. In addition, all computers in the office are recycled.

The leader in the large company category was DLA Piper, which became one of the largest legal service providers in the world last year, with more than 3,500 lawyers in more than 65 offices across the globe. The company’s Climate Change Project is designed to enable small groups of subsistence farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda to reduce the devastating effects of deforestation, drought, and famine in areas of extreme poverty by providing long-term revenue through the sale of greenhouse gas credits. To date the lawyers of DLA Piper have donated $300,000 to the relief efforts and will continue to invest in the rebuilding of Haiti. DLA Piper also offers an Alternative Commuting Incentive Program to employees who use public transportation, carpooling, or bicycling for at least 60 consecutive days. They also have A Hybrid Vehicle Reimbursement Policy.

Assistant Professor of Communication Tom Garrett will have his students film the award presentation and conduct interviews with the business people on their sustainability efforts. The footage will go on Earth Charter’s Web site . He also hopes to work with Roberts on Operation Bon Appetit , and film cooking shows in areas where Earth Charter has a program.

Earth Charter U.S. is also working in collaboration with the UT art faculty and Academy Prep Earth Scouts to host the Arts & Sustainability Festival on Earth Day on April 24, 2010.

The Sustainable Business Awards are an initiative of The Earth Charter U.S., a nonprofit organization that provides an ethical framework to building a caring, sustainable and peaceful global society. It is a global declaration of our interdependence and shared responsibility to inspire, educate and engage people in respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, participatory democracy and a culture of peace. More than 6,000 individuals and organizations in the U.S. have endorsed the Earth Charter, and gatherings are taking place in countries across the globe, including Mexico, Holland, Australia, India, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Taiwan and Costa Rica.