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Sustainable Business Awards Recognize Bay Area Companies

Published: September 18, 2008
From solar power and environmental education to recycling zebra manure, 16 Tampa Bay-area businesses are leading the commitment to social, economic and environmental responsibility. They will be honored at the first-ever Earth Charter Sustainable Business Awards of Tampa Bay luncheon on Friday, Oct. 10, at 11:30 a.m. at The University of Tampa’s Vaughn Center.

The businesses range in size and scope — from a tea lounge with six employees to a public utility with 4,200 employees.

“These companies are setting the standards for Tampa Bay area sustainability practices,” said Dr. Daniel Verreault, a UT associate professor of accounting who is helping coordinate the event. “They are taking a people, profit, planet approach to company policies and also realizing significant cost-savings in their operations.”

The 16 awardees are:

Large Business Category, 251 or more employees :
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Fowler White Boggs Banker P.A.
Sirata Beach Resort
TECO Energy Inc.

Medium Business Category, 51 to 250 employees :
Beck Group
Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Inc. (HOK)
MLI Integrated Graphic Solutions
St. Pete Times Forum and The Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Rays

Small Business Category, 50 or fewer employees :
Carastro & Associates
Green Earth Group
Kaleisia Tea Lounge
Kessler Consulting Inc.
OceanGrown Inc.

At the luncheon one Sustainability Leader will be named in each category and the remaining four will earn the distinction of Sustainability Pioneers. Flush Puppies, a new Tampa business, will receive the Sustainable Entrepreneur award.

Luncheon speaker will be Eric Maltzer, a leading consultant at Esty Environmental Partners (EEP), which produced “Green to Gold,” a template for CEOs and managers who want to make sustainability a core element of strategy — and profit from it.

The Sustainable Business Awards are an initiative of The Earth Charter U.S., a nonprofit organization that upholds an international declaration of values and principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society. The event will also serve as the initial step in the formation of an Earth Charter Sustainable Business Coalition. The coalition, comprised of top executives and corporate officers, will help to shape Tampa Bay’s sustainable economy.

A team of business graduate students from The University of Tampa, under the guidance of Verreault, developed the criteria for the awards, led the campaign to market the awards to bay area businesses and evaluated the nominations. The team created the criteria using several sources, including Global Reporting Initiatives, Sustainable Seattle, Sustainable Florida and the U.N. Global Compact.

“The winning businesses are walking the talk when it comes to promoting sustainable practices to the community and their clients,” said Rakefet Bachur-Cohen, a UT graduate student and a leader of the team.

A Commitment to Sustainability – Five Case Studies

Carastro & Associates, of Tampa, installed a $25,000, 2,000-watt solar panel to establish a leadership role on alternative energy solutions with their clients. They have also installed energy recovery systems at MOSI and The University of Tampa.

The Kaleisia Tea Lounge, a small restaurant of six employees located on Fletcher Avenue, opened its doors in a neighborhood with one of the highest crime rates in Tampa with the purpose of helping revitalize the community. Kaleisia’s partners report steady increases in sales revenues, even in the current economy.

The Sirata Beach Resort, of St. Pete Beach, has installed products that resulted in an estimated reduction of 1,100 tons in greenhouse gases for 2007 and a 20 percent decrease of overall electricity usage.

Busch Gardens’ new Jungala exhibit was constructed with materials purchased from local suppliers and recycled materials from discontinued rides. The park also reuses animal waste with its on-site compost facility, changed its dinnerware to biodegradable products and donates tens of thousands of dollars to its Conservation Fund.

The Tampa Bay Rays’ sustainable initiatives include offering free parking to cars with four or more passengers, recognition at the Rays games to local community organizations with strong green practices and reduction of their energy usage with a centrally controlled AC and lighting monitoring system.

Visit for more information about the awards, luncheon, tickets and sponsorship opportunities, as well as Earth Charter and the Earth Charter Summit to be held on Saturday, Oct. 11, at UT.