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Wednesday, April 21, 2004


Program touts
‘green’ businesses

ERC, Rideshare launch CEEL program

"It goes with a fundamental belief that I have that all business needs to be responsive to social and environmental issues, because, inherently, we’re part of the problem."

ANDY MUNTER, Co-owner of Backwoods Mountain Sports

CEEL program

For information about supporting the CEEL program or becoming a CEEL certified business, contact Ben Mackay at the Environmental Resource Center in Ketchum at 726-4333 or call Michelle Shaffer at Wood River Rideshare at 788-RIDE.

Express Staff Writer

As a Wood River Valley builder, Garth Callaghan said he does things differently from many of his competitors.

He’s building with "green" materials and recycling as much waste from job sites as he can. Beginning Thursday, April 22, he will begin getting some additional recognition for his altruistic job practices.

Andy Munter shows that the Backwoods recycling program covers most categories of waste disposal. Express photo by Willy Cook

The Environmental Resource Center and Wood River Rideshare are scheduled to unveil a new, voluntary program called the Circle of Environmental Excellence and Leadership, also known as the CEEL program. CEEL is designed to highlight local businesses that are making an extra effort on behalf of Mother Earth.

Garth Callaghan Construction, The Ketchum Grill and Backwoods Mountain Sports are the first three local businesses to obtain CEEL certification, and it is no coincidence that they will be announced as the first CEEL-certified businesses on Earth Day. (See related stories: Earth Day and Car Free)

"When we build, we try to introduce energy efficient products and build with a mind that says that if we put a little more money into the house up front, you can reduce the use of our natural resources," Callaghan said. "I’m kind of selling and educating about the use of energy-efficient products."

The CEEL program is the result of a winter-long effort by the ERC and Wood River Rideshare. The two Ketchum-based nonprofit organizations worked with a group of local businesses to develop the program.

According to ERC Program Director Ben Mackay, CEEL is modeled on similar programs from municipalities throughout the country, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Scott Mason gives a tour of The Ketchum Grille’s organic herb beds. Express photo by Willy Cook

CEEL recognizes businesses that have adopted sustainable business practices and assists them in addressing issues that they might not have been able to address independently. Mackay said that, through CEEL, the Wood River Valley will be impacted positively by decreasing municipal waste, highlighting transportation problems and showing valley visitors that the community is conscious of its impact on the environment.

"It goes with a fundamental belief that I have that all business needs to be responsive to social and environmental issues because, inherently, we’re part of the problem," said Andy Munter, co-owner of Backwoods.

Backwoods boasts seven different recycle bins in front of its Ketchum store. Though cardboard constitutes most of the company’s recyclable waste, aluminum, tin and office paper piles up, too. Since Backwoods got five additional recycling bins last year, it went to a smaller size dumpster and started saving money, Munter said.

"We also use compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use a lot less energy and last a lot longer, and that’s another example of something that’s saved us money," he said.

At The Ketchum Grill, co-owner Scott Mason boasted about the small restaurant’s organic garden, timer-operated thermostats, Rideshare participation and recycling program.

"This program is trying to appreciate businesses that are making an effort to use environmentally friendly business practices," Mason said. "I believe it’s positive, because businesses are the biggest producers of waste. If you can get businesses on board to reduce waste in an environmentally friendly fashion, it affects all of us, and not just the patrons of that business."

Garth Callaghan built the New Hailey Nursery using Insulated Concrete Forms. Courtesy photo

The CEEL program is open to all local businesses that want to explore how "greening up" the business can "green up" the bottom line, Mackay said. He pointed out that Resort Quest Sun Valley and Wells Fargo Bank are in the process of becoming CEEL-certified businesses.

CEEL members will benefit from collaborative efforts fostered within the CEEL community to achieve better performance and increased cost savings, Mackay said. Throughout the year, CEEL will host speakers to cover topics including energy savings, commuter benefits and composting food waste.

Information about CEEL-certified businesses will appear in newspaper, radio and television advertisements. To help consumers identify participating organizations, CEEL window stickers will be posted at member businesses.

To become certified, businesses must fill out an application that covers categories including energy use, water use, transportation, purchasing habits and waste reduction. A score is derived from the application, and there are benchmarks to reach before CEEL certification occurs.

Mackay said the program was purposefully created to make certification a challenge.

"We don’t want this to be something that everybody can get certified in," he said. "There needs to be some credibility. People need to be doing something wholeheartedly to get certified. Otherwise, it would loose all credibility."

One of the biggest hopes for the program, Munter said, is that other businesses take notice and begin moving toward sustainable practices.

"Being good social and environmental activists is also good for business," he said.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.