Biz Buzz Extra

SLO Chamber honors earth-friendly businesses at annual Green Awards

Five companies, one organization get recognition for sustainability and limiting impact on the planet

newsroom@thetribunenews.comNovember 2, 2012 

Customers order food at the New Frontiers deli.

Five companies and one organization were honored Friday with Green Awards by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce for their efforts to minimize environmental impacts, have sustainable operations and teach others how to reach such goals.

Those recognized:

Pacific Vineyard Co. The firm sustainably manages grapes on more than 1,600 acres of vineyards in the Edna Valley. To conserve water, the company schedules irrigation on a weekly basis to avoid overwatering. It also annually tests irrigation systems for distribution uniformity. Pumps get examined every two years for efficiency.

Tractors used by Pacific Vineyard can mow and disc simultaneously, which reduces diesel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions. To reduce rodents naturally, the farming operation has put owl boxes in its vineyards. And goats are used for weed control.

Finally, as many as 28 farm employees are transported in Ride-On Transportation vans, a form of carpooling that reduces an estimated 134,000 pounds of carbon emissions a year.

• All Green Lawn Care. Owner Matt Lodge does not transport his equipment in a truck but rather hauls his mower and other materials on a trailer behind his bike.

He uses a push mower and thus does not pollute the air with a power mower. Lodge also pulls weeds by hand and sprays vinegar instead of pesticides when needed.

Promega Biosciences. The firm researches, develops and manufactures chemicals with bioluminescent or fluorescent properties. Their products are used by scientists worldwide in life science, clinical and forensic research.

Promega created a group of employees called the “green team” that helped significantly cut energy use, water consumption and waste.

It is also a bike-friendly business that offers internal incentives to bike to work. Promega won SLO Regional Rideshare’s commuter bike challenge earlier this year.

New Frontiers Natural Marketplace. The store utilized a host of green building practices at its new location. The glycol refrigeration system reduces Freon use by 30 percent compared to stores of similar size. Solar tubes around the store allow more daylight, thus reducing electricity. Solar panels cover the roof, leading to a 12 percent reduction in energy consumption. All paints used in the new store were nonvolatile organic compounds.

New Frontiers also composts the green waste generated by daily operations. This effort produces enough compost to cover an acre of an organic farm per week. An estimated 14 tons of waste have been kept out of the landfill as a result.

Clever Ducks. The information technology business relocated to Broad and Pacific streets this year and designed workspaces with natural lighting and green materials for flooring, paint, insulation and furnishings. The efforts would qualify Clever Ducks for a silver certification under LEED guidelines should it choose to apply for such.

The company has reduced the number of servers it needs by utilizing a virtual server model. This has reduced the need for cooling in the server rooms, with the lower power demand equaling a 500 percent increase in efficiency.

Clever Ducks is owned by Peter and Amy Kardel, and Amy Kardel initiated formation of the chamber’s Sustainability and Resources Committee and proposed the Green Awards.

The company also supports the SLO Bicycle Coalition by providing office space for the nonprofit.

• Central Coast chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The organization is a group of 13 firms striving to meet the national chapter’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

Toward that end, the local chapter created templates to help members operate their businesses more sustainably. The chapter also created templates for plans to achieve long-term energy reduction in project designs.

A website,, was created to share the strategies and documents.

PG&E was the major sponsor of the awards. Other sponsors were the Gas Co., Ride-On Transportation, city of San Luis Obispo, REC Solar and The Tribune.

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