The city government coordinated an event with the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce on Monday, which focused on directing small businesses toward environmental sustainability while also saving them money.
Members of the community who attended "Sustainable Profits: Are You Looking to Improve Your Bottom Line?" were eligible for a 10-percent discount on services from the participating vendors, as well as free consultations on how to make their businesses greener.
Bryan Hane, a local small business owner who planned the event, said he had the idea when Jeff Goldsberry of Let it Shine Lighting LLC spoke to a rotary club meeting he attended. Goldsberry helped Hane maximize economic and energy efficiency at his business by changing his lighting.
“Why didn’t I do this five years ago, and what else don’t I know about?” Hane said he asked himself.
Goldsberry said his company has it easy when it comes to convincing businesses to become more sustainable.
“When you talk about going green and being sustainable, I'm the lucky one,” he said. “Lighting is sexy — it’s easy to do LED.”
Let it Shine Lighting primarily relies on rebates through Duke Energy to create the savings its customers enjoy.
Jake Graf, service manager from Commercial Service, said many small businesses are losing money by not taking proper care of their equipment.
“The biggest thing that costs you money and hurts you is improper maintenance on your heating and cooling systems, and we see it every day,” he said.
Graf said when it comes to things like boiler tune-ups, customers can get a rebate through Vectren that makes them nearly free.
David Mauder from Midwest Services said nine out of 10 attics his company has looked at over the last 10 years do not have the proper amount of insulation.
This means money and energy spent heating these spaces could be used more efficiently.
Darrell Boggess, a volunteer for SIREN, a solar project by Bloomington's nonprofit Center for Sustainable Living, said there is room for growth regarding sustainability in commercial spaces.
Boggess said solar is not cost-prohibitive like many businesses think it may be, and sustainable practices pay for themselves over time.
“The kilowatt-hours you don’t use are the cheapest ones because you don’t have to pay for them,” he said.
Don Seader of World Wide Automotive Solar gave testimony as a small business owner who has constructed his facility in the greenest way possible.
He said he encourages other business owners to look into more sustainable forms of energy like solar and see how much switching to them will reduce the amount they spend per month.
While the event was the first of its kind for Bloomington, Hane said he hopes it will not be the last.
“We’re not done yet,” Hane said. “This is just step one.”
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