There are many ways to be green, but none of them are easy. For most businesses, being green is about cutting production waste, conserving resources and, above all, saving money. Others see green as a sure-fire marketing tool to build trust with consumers and strengthen a brand. For nonprofits and governments, the green movement is about educating the public and changing outdated policies. For all parties, however, being green is simply the right thing to do to make the world a better place for future generations.
In this year's Green Washington Awards program, Seattle Business Magazine honors the many businesses, utilities and organizations that have demonstrated their leadership, innovation and commitment to protecting the environment. Through their actions and initiatives, they have made substantial contributions toward environmental sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of Washington state.
After examining entries of more than 140 businesses and organizations from across the state, the Green Washington judges had the difficult task of narrowing down the field to these winners and runners-up in nine categories: Manufacturing, Services, Technology, Green Building, Retail, Academic & Health Care Institutions, Natural Resources, Utilities and Nonprofits.
In these pages, Seattle Business profiles a wide range of green programs that have had demonstrated results, from energy-efficient office buildings to hybrid-fuel trucks to grass-munching goats. On the government side, we show you which municipalities and public utilities are leading the way with progressive environmental policies that provide incentives to small businesses and help create jobs. From century-old industrial titans to mom-and-pop startups, the Green Washington Awards represent the very best green initiatives that businesses in the state have to offer.
Kenworth Truck Co.
Kirkland | Employees: 600 | kenworth.com
Kenworth's new line of diesel-electric hybrid trucks are expected to save both on fuel costs and on greenhouse gas emissions.
When considering the greenest manufactured products available, a diesel-exhaust-spewing truck engine may not be the first image that leaps to mind. Yet Kirkland-based Kenworth Trucks, a division of Bellevue's Paccar Inc., managed to haul its way to the top of the judges' list this year with a new line of fuel-efficient vehicles that could make a significant dent on truck emissions across the country.
With Kenworth's new T270 Class 6 and T370 Class 7 diesel-electric hybrid delivery trucks, customers can save up to 30 percent in fuel costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, says general manager Bill Kozek. Another model, the T800, is a Class 8 truck that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG), which typically costs 50 cents to $1 less than a gallon of standard diesel fuel and emits 25 percent less harmful emissions, says Andy Douglas, national sales manager for Kenworth's specialty markets.
So far, the company expects to sell 500 of the medium-duty hybrid trucks this year and has sold more than 200 LNG vehicles to municipal markets in southern California, Douglas says. Purchasers may also qualify for a federal tax credit ranging from $6,000 to $12,000 for each new hybrid truck, and $28,800 to $32,000 for each LNG vehicle, he adds.
Furniture maker Spencer LLC, based in Monroe, caught the judges' eyes as a runner-up in the category for its continuous waste reduction policies based on the famous Toyota Production System. Since 2005, Spencer has re-evaluated its entire manufacturing process and improved the general design of its cabinet products to reduce labor, cut its waste in half, use fewer materials and quadruple the normal industry return on assets.
OF NOTE: Hoquiam-based Grays Harbor Paper reported some impressive eco-friendly elements, including an innovative system that uses the plant's own waste as either fuel for its turbines or as a soil supplement for local farms. Federal Way wood products giant Weyerhaeuser Co. turned heads with its new iLevel sawmill in Longview, which achieved a 20 percent reduction in energy usage and released 1,300 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide per year compared with conventional mills.
Academic & Health Care Institutions
Seattle Community College District
Seattle | Employees: 2,368 | seattlecolleges.edu
The Seattle Community College District is building a LEED-certified building for its Center for Green Studies.
As the shapers of tomorrow's minds, the various universities across the state have led by example with exceptional environmental practices and challenging green curricula. The school that received the final nod from the judges, however, was one that is sometimes overlooked: the Seattle Community College District (SCCD).
With a total enrollment of 52,000 students across three campuses (North Seattle, Seattle Central and South Seattle), the SCCD system operates under a comprehensive Sustainability Initiative created by the school's chancellor, Jill Wakefield. The initiative aims to reduce the school's carbon footprint and achieve $1 million in district-wide savings via conservation this year, Wakefield says. Other aspects include the addition of sustainable agriculture practices in SCCD's culinary arts program, the inclusion of hybrid technology in automotive training classes and a proposal for a new, LEED-certified Center for Green Studies building on South Seattle Community College's Georgetown branch campus.
Washington State University and Seattle Children's Hospital
Washington State University (wsu.edu) reported that in 2008 it reduced the use of disinfectants at its veterinary school by 1,222 pounds, trimmed campus-wide energy use by 485,840 kilowatt hours and eliminated unnecessary travel with the use of video-conferencing for 4,500 regional meetings.
Seattle Children's Hospital's Go Green initiative has helped it save more than $146,000 by reducing water usage by 7 million gallons and recycling more than 284,000 pounds, or 32 percent, of its waste in 2008, according to Mitch Birchfield, Children's director of environmental services.
OF NOTE: The University of Washington plans to be carbon-neutral by 2050 through various programs, such as a 2008 plan that replaced more than 3,000 incandescent light bulbs with donated compact fluorescents, saving the university $12,000 in utility bills.
Gordon Trucking Inc.
Pacific | Employees: 2,000 | gordontrucking.com
Gordon Trucking Inc. (GTI) stands out in the Services category for its commitment to reducing emissions and increasing fuel efficiency of its 1,500-truck fleet of Class 8 freight tractors.
Last year, the south Puget Sound trucking giant installed filtration technology that reduced oil waste by 27,000 gallons annually. By decreasing the maximum speed of its trucks from 65 mph to 60 mph, the company will save 1 million gallons of fuel per year.
GTI has also added more efficient auxiliary power units (APUs) to 500 of its trucks, which have reduced idling time from 20 percent to 12 percent. The intent is to outfit the remainder of the fleet with APUs in the next three years and to purchase around 200 new clean-burning trucks this year.
All told, GTI's emissions reductions efforts have led to the elimination of 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 1,500 tons of particulate matter and 560 tons of nitrous oxides from the skies every year, says Kirk Altrichter, GTI's vice president of maintenance.
The runner-up, the luxury Hotel Monaco-Seattle (monaco-seattle.com), wins praise for its EarthCare program which uses eco-friendly products and services, including green dry cleaning, recycled-plastic key cards and water-efficient bathroom fixtures. The hotel has maintained an 86 percent recycling rate and a 60 percent reduction in restaurant waste through a food composting program.
OF NOTE: Another standout was Seattle's Brown Bear Car Wash, which has provided more than 100,000 free car wash tickets to schools and over 150 charity groups so they can hold fundraising events at Brown Bear's facilities, where effluent can be properly processed and disposed of, and prevented from reaching waterways.
Puget Sound Energy
Bellevue | Employees: 2,500 | pse.com
Puget Sound Energy's Wild Horse Wind Project will soon include 2,400 solar panels as well as its wind turbines.
This year, the Green Washington judges happily noted that many major utilities were making strides in energy savings. Puget Sound Energy (PSE), however, breezed ahead by a nose due to its extensive investments in alternate fuel sources and its continued leadership in wind and solar project development.
PSE, the nation's second-largest utility owner of wind power generation facilities, meets the electricity needs of about 110,000 customers with the Hopkins Ridge and Wild Horse wind facilities. Next year, PSE plans to begin work on the Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project, which will serve 350,000 homes. PSE has also built a 2,400-panel solar project, the largest in the Northwest, at the Wild Horse facility.
In 2008, PSE's conservation programs saved customers a record-high $30 million on their energy bills and created 450 new local jobs, says PSE spokeswoman Rebekah Anderson.
The company says the completion of the $7.4-billion acquisition of PSE's parent company, Puget Energy, by a consortium of Canadian and American investors has given PSE the financial resources to maintain this long-term vision of greater sources of renewable energy despite the current economic downturn.
Snohomish County Public Utility District
Farther north in Everett, the Snohomish County Public Utility District (snopud.com) was a close second to PSE in the judges' opinions, with its outstanding conservation numbers-6.2 megawatts reduced, representing $4.5 million in savings to customers in 2008-and its wide array of planned alternative energy sources through the next decade, including tidal power (powering 70,000 homes by 2011), wind energy (40,000 homes) and biomass/biogas facilities (25,000 homes).
OF NOTE: Electric utility Seattle City Light also shined brightly with a list of environmental achievements. As the first utility in the country to be "greenhouse gas neutral" via renewable fuel and purchasing offsets, City Light's conservation program has prevented 598,000 metric tons of CO2 from being released and saved enough energy in 2008 to power 105,000 homes for one year.
Seattle | Employees: 1,600 | mckinstry.com
Seattle-based McKinstry edged out a field of 20 impressive, forward-thinking architectural and construction firms that have adopted the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards developed by the U.S Green Building Council.
Because office buildings account for about half of the greenhouse gases produced in the United States, the green building movement has the potential to make one of the most noticeable impacts on reducing cities' carbon footprints. A recent study by Gardner-Johnson also found that residential homes certified by King and Snohomish counties' Built Green program have increased in value by about 2 percent from 2005 to 2008 in east King County, while the value of uncertified homes decreased by 2 percent during the same period.
With help last year from then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, who praised the company as a model for sustainability in the workplace, McKinstry has proven its worth by designing, building and retrofitting the heating and other internal operations of commercial structures saving clients 25 million kilowatt-hours, 850,000 therms and more than $2.7 million in utility costs. For projects completed in 2007 and 2008 alone, emissions reductions at McKinstry buildings included 55 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 65,000 pounds of nitrous oxides, 18,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 2,000 pounds of carbon monoxide.
Seattle-based architecture and urban design firm GGLO (gglo.com) impressed the judges with its portfolio of more than 1.4 million square feet of eco-friendly, mixed-use space in the Puget Sound region. A champion of incorporating sustainable elements in affordable housing projects, GGLO has also designed more than 1,100 green residential units.
OF NOTE: The green aspects of local design firms have spread to construction companies as well. Bellevue's GLY Construction has completed eight LEED projects, with an additional nine in progress, including 500,000 square feet of LEED Gold expansion on the Microsoft campus. Sellen Construction in Seattle recycles 91 percent of its construction waste on its projects, 90 percent of which are LEED certified. Turner Construction also recently saved $160,000 by recycling more than 8,600 tons of concrete on six building demolitions.
PCC Natural Markets
Seattle | Employees: 960 | pccnaturalmarkets.com
For many retailers, being green means merely complying with new environmental regulations. But for those progressive retailers in the upper echelons of the ecological movement, such as Seattle's homegrown PCC Natural Markets chain, being green is part of their core identity-a bar that is raised each time it is met.
With each new store built by this organic and natural foods grocery chain, PCC sets a new standard for its own conservation and green building goals. Beginning in 1996, PCC's initial Green Lake neighborhood store included a produce-composting program, low-VOC paints, cork linoleum flooring and tabletops made of recycled fibers. In 2003, the Fremont store added high-efficiency lighting, photovoltaic panels, cabinetry made of recycled materials, and an integrated hot water, HVAC and refrigeration system. Three years later, the Redmond store was the first-ever grocery store to meet stringent LEED Gold certification standards.
This fall, PCC's new store, which opened earlier this year in Edmonds, is expected to earn LEED Platinum status for its green elements, including specially glazed windows to block out 65 percent of the sun's heat, LED lighting that will use 25 percent of the energy needed for incandescent bulbs, and a rainwater collection system capable of handling 160,000 gallons annually. PCC expects the Edmonds store to outperform industry energy standards by at least 50 percent, says Diana Crane, the chain's director of sustainability.
PCC is a tough act to follow, but Seattle pizza chain Pagliacci Pizza (pagliacci.com) wowed the judges with its recent transformation into one of the greenest restaurant chains in the region. Not only has Pagliacci instituted a composting program for its food waste, pizza boxes and 95 percent of its packaging, but it also established an educational campaign that displayed conservation facts, tips and contact information on all of its pizza boxes, and partnered with Seattle Public Utilities in 2006 to create radio and TV public service announcements about recycling food waste at home.
Seattle | Employees: 20 | climatesolutions.org
Old-school market capitalists may scoff at the idea of a "not-for-profit" organization having power over the local economy, but some of these groups have had a major impact on state and regional policy in recent years.
For instance, as one of the top global-warming political action groups in the Pacific Northwest, Climate Solutions successfully led a coalition of business leaders to help pass the landmark Climate Action and Green Jobs initiative (HB 2815), says Ethan Schaffer, director of major gifts and grants at Climate Solutions.
The signing of HB 2815 last year makes Washington the fourth state in the nation to put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions with a target of returning to 1990 levels or below by 2020, 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The legislation also makes Washington the only state to create a training program for the expected tripling of new jobs in wind, solar and geothermal energy generation by 2020, Schaffer says.
Greater Spokane Incorporated
On the other side of the state, runner-up nonprofit Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI; greaterspokane.org) has partnered with local businesses community and organizations in support of environmental policies. In recent years, GSI has created a business-focused group called the Consortium of Leading Energy and Efficiency Northwest (CLEEN), made presentations on incentives to help offset the cost of including energy-efficient improvements at businesses and developed partnerships to promote sustainable building practices in Spokane.
OF NOTE: Another economic development group, enterpriseSeattle, which helped found the Washington Clean Technology Alliance trade association, has provided free development assistance to more than 250 emerging clean-tech companies, helping to create more than 1,500 family-wage jobs. The Seattle Art Museum, the only such institution to employ a full-time environmental steward, redeveloped a brownfield site and restored part of the city's shoreline habitat during construction of its Olympic Sculpture Park, which features mostly native flora, reduces stormwater runoff, and uses no pesticides.
Woodland Park Zoo
Seattle | employees: 350 | zoo.org
The penguin exhibit at the Woodland Park Zoo recirculates and cleans its water every 36 minutes.
While Climate Solutions won the nonprofit category of the Green Washington Awards, the judges felt the need to call special attention to the environmental improvements made at one of Seattle's top tourist destinations: Woodland Park Zoo.
The zoo has a comprehensive food waste and green waste recycling program, which turns the waste into mulch, compost, and animal feed, and sends the plastic and glass off for recycling and reuse. In addition, it has waterless urinals, a fleet of alt-fuel vehicles and porous concrete walkways that allow rainwater to drain into the ground. But the zoo's most recent example of green technology in action is the new Humboldt Penguin exhibit, which opened in May 2009.
Every 36 minutes, the water in the penguins' pool is circulated and cleansed through a system of sand filters. Dirty water is then pumped to an artificial wetland on the property, where plant roots absorb the waste nutrients. Rainwater runoff from around the park is also diverted and collected in this wetland habitat.
"This is the only zoo that uses this closed-loop filtration system," says Monica Lake, the zoo's capital projects manager. "The only water we add is [to replace that depleted] through evaporation loss."
To keep the temperature of the pool at the optimal 50 to 60 degrees for the penguin exhibit's 20 flippered residents, the zoo also employs an innovative geothermal system that taps the earth's heat energy from 300 feet underground.
The new penguin exhibit alone saves the zoo 3 million gallons of water per year and about 75 million BTUs of energy, Lake says. Total savings throughout the park due to green design adds up to "well over $100,000 per year," she adds.
Healing Hooves LLC
Edwall | Employees: 2 humans, 240 goats | healinghooves.com
Nature's lawnmowers: Healing Hooves employs 240 goats to control invasive weeds and apply other "targeted grazing" techniques.
For companies that harness the power of natural resources, it's hard to beat Mother Nature. That's what the judges found in the elegantly simple business model of Healing Hooves.
Located near the tiny community of Edwall, near Spokane, Healing Hooves provides "natural vegetation management," meaning it uses no herbicides or machinery to maintain properties. The company, founded by Craig and Sue Lani Madsen, employs a herd of about 240 goats, who love nothing more than to tear into a thicket of invasive weeds at a rate of about an acre every two to three days. Healing Hooves applies "targeted grazing" techniques on properties ranging from an overgrown electric substation in downtown Seattle to the rolling hills of Oregon and Idaho.
Sue Lani Madsen admits that she can't compete with mechanical lawnmowers for clearing a lot on flat ground. But if there are steep hills, large trees or sensitive riparian environments that need a trim, her four-legged weed whackers have the upper hoof. King County's Tolt River Dam turned to Healing Hooves after its work crews suffered an accident a few years ago while mowing the angled earthen dam face.
And what about the "output" from a well-fed goat? "That's just our way of helping to return the plants' nutrients to the soil," Sue Lani Madsen says.
Booshoot Gardens LLC
The runner-up, biotechnology firm Booshoot Gardens (booshoot.com), also manipulates the power of nature with its method of accelerating the rate at which renewable bamboo plants can reproduce. The resulting bamboo can be used in construction and in the horticultural sector to absorb CO2 four times more quickly than an average tree, releasing 35 percent more oxygen.
Bellevue | Employees: 100 | talyst.com
Talyst's InSite Remote Dispensing System cuts down on medical packaging waste in pharmacies by measuring out precise amounts when filling prescriptions.
One of the greatest economic benefits of today's technological advances comes via the automation of labor-intensive industries. Such is the case with pharmacy equipment firm Talyst.
Talyst's InSite Remote Dispensing system won over the judges for its ability to reduce the roughly 250 million pounds of medication waste that occurs in health care facilities annually. Part of the problem, says Talyst CEO Carla Corkern, is that today's health care billing system encourages waste by charging for drugs in 30-day increments and sending them in rigid, cardboard-backed blister packs that must be broken up by hand. Leftover pills need to be disposed of by flushing or incineration.
With the InSite system, standalone units can store up to 500 types of oral medications in separate 300-dose canisters. When a dose is needed, the exact amount is dispensed and tracked via a bar code system. InSite units also have reduced labor time by an average of 90 percent, Corkern says, mostly by eliminating the need for nurses to count pills manually.
Since 2007, Talyst has sold about 100 InSite units to acute-care hospitals, long-term care facilities and correctional institutions, Corkern says. By 2010, she hopes to have a total of 200 units in the field.
Optimum Energy LLC
Seattle-based Optimum Energy (optimumenergyhvac.com) earned its runner-up status by offering software that helps commercial and public sector buildings reduce energy consumption by up to 60 percent via more efficient heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) controls. To date, Optimum's HVAC software has been applied to more than 60 installations.
OF NOTE: After years of silence on the issue, Microsoft is now committed to reducing its global carbon emissions by 30 percent by the year 2012. Online travel company Expedia has also launched a "Go Green, Get Green" program that pays employees $75 per month to use alternate forms of transportation to get to their Bellevue headquarters. As a result, only half of Expedia's 1,600 Bellevue employees drives to work.
One to Watch
City of Seattle
You have to hand it to Greg Nickels & Co.-for sheer ambition, the City of Seattle (seattle.gov) has come up with an impressive agenda. On Earth Day, Nickels launched his Green Building Capital Initiative, which would increase energy efficiency in existing buildings by 20 percent and in the state's energy code by 30 percent, as well as create new "green job" opportunities.
In light of the current economy, however, it remains to be seen whether any or all of these goals can be met. By the end of this year, the city says it plans to ramp up its home energy audit pilot program, provide $1.2 million in loans to homeowners for energy-saving upgrades and expedite the review process for energy-efficient projects via the "Green Q" program. Until these plans are enacted, the Emerald City will be a municipality to watch for next year.
Still tops in sustainability (companies that were Green Washington winners in 2008 and are still moving forward with impressive programs.)
- City of Bellingham
- Stemilt Growers
- ShoreBank Pacific
- Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat
Judging Panel for Green Washington 2009
- Joan Crooks, executive director, Washington Environmental Council
- Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact, Starbucks Coffee Co.
- Jon Naimon, managing director, Light Green Advisors LLC
- Gifford Pinchot III, president, Bainbridge Graduate Institute
- Madeline Sten, former executive director, Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center.
- Doug Walker, former chair, REI
- The Washington State Department of Ecology screened all winners.
Green Washington 2009 Nominees
- AAA Kartak Glass & Closet
- Achilles USA Inc.
- Alchemy Goods
- Allied Waste
- Alpha Ecological
- Aviation Technical Services Inc.
- Ballard Brothers Seafood & Burgers
- Bastyr University
- Belco Forest Products Inc.
- Bionavitas Inc.
- BN Builders
- Brown Bear Car Wash
- Canyon Creek Cabinet Co.
- Cascade Land Conservancy
- Cascadia Community College
- Cats Exclusive Veterinary Center
- City of Bellingham
- City of Bremerton
- City of Seattle
- Climate Solutions
- Deloitte LLP (Seattle)
- Eden Advanced Pest Technologies
- Engineered Compost Systems (ECS)
- Essential Baking Co.
- Expedia Inc.
- The Fairmont Olympic Hotel
- Foster Pepper
- Fusionspark Media Inc.
- General Biodiesel Seattle LLC
- GLY Construction Inc.
- Gordon Trucking Inc.
- Grays Harbor Paper
- Greater Spokane Inc.
- Green Benefits
- The Green Year LLC
- Hacker Group
- HDR Engineering
- Healing Hooves LLC
- Hotel Monaco-Seattle
- Hyatt at Olive 8
- Ivar's & Kidd Valley Restaurants
- IVUS Energy Innovations
- Keeney's Office Plus
- Kenworth Truck Co.
- King Conservation District
- LMN Architects
- LOTT Alliance
- Martha Rose Construction Inc.
- Matter Group LLC
- Mercury Services
- Microsoft Corp.
- MulvannyG2 Architecture
- Network for Business Innovation & Sustainability
- Nickel Bros. House Moving
- O'Brien and Co.
- Optimum Energy
- Outsource Marketing
- Pacific Market International
- Pagliacci Pizza
- Paladino and Co.
- Paneltech International LLC
- PCC Natural Markets
- Port of Seattle
- Premier Building Systems
- Printing Control
- Puget Sound Energy
- RealNetworks Inc.
- Red Cup Espresso
- Re-Use Consulting
- Sabey Corp.
- The Schuster Group
- Seattle Aquarium
- Seattle Art Museum
- Seattle Children's Hospital
- Seattle City Light
- Seattle Community Colleges
- Second Use Building Materials
- Sellen Construction
- Sheraton Seattle Hotel
- ShoreBank Pacific
- Skamania Lodge
- Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort
- Snohomish County Public Utility District
- Snoqualmie Winery
- Sound Bites Sauce & Spread Co.
- Sound Transit
- South Whidbey School District
- Spencer LLC
- Spokane County
- Spokane County Commute Trip Reduction Office
- State Farm Automobile Insurance Co.
- Statements Tile
- Stemilt Growers Inc.
- Stoel Rives LLP
- Stokes Lawrence PS
- Strasser Woodenworks
- Sustainable Business Consulting
- Tacoma Community College
- Targeted Growth Inc.
- Teragren Fine Bamboo Flooring, Panels & Veneer
- tidbit bistro
- Turner Construction
- Totem Ocean Trailer Express Inc.
- Twelves Unlimited
- Unico Properties
- University of Washington
- US Aluminum Castings
- UW Environmental Innovation Challenge Center
- Virginia Mason Medical Center
- Vu1 Corp.
- Vulcan Real Estate
- Washington State University
- Waste Management of Spokane
- Watson Furniture Group
- Weber Marketing Group
- Weber Shandwick
- Weber Thompson
- Weyerhaeuser Co.
- Woodland Park Zoo
- Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects