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First of its Kind Law Gives Bid Advantages to Sustainable Small Business

Cleveland Puts Triple-bottom line on par with Minority, Female Business Certifications

First of its Kind Law Gives Bid Advantages to Sustainable Small Business

Cleveland Puts Triple-bottom line on par with Minority, Female Business Certifications

Published 09-29-10

Submitted by Institute for Sustainable Development

The City of Cleveland has enacted the first law in the U.S. providing advantages for sustainable companies bidding on City contracts. Cleveland's 'buy local and sustainable law' puts sustainable companies' bid advantages on par with those given to minority (MBE) and female business enterprises (FBE). Certified MBEs and FBEs can add Cleveland's local and sustainable bid advantage to their existing bonuses. The City of Cleveland spends upwards of a billion dollars a year on the purchase of goods and services and through this law provides a model for cities across the U.S. to encourage triple bottom line sustainability among small businesses.

Green Plus certification is Cleveland's standard for triple bottom line sustainability. Under the new provision, local companies completing the first stage of the Green Plus™ program can now gain a 4% bid discount when pursuing contracts with the City of Cleveland. Green Plus™ is a non-profit, third party certification originally designed by Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and chambers of commerce to help small businesses become more competitive through sustainable business practices.

"Cleveland's effort to reward companies for their triple bottom line sustainability -- good business, environmental, employee and community practices -- is groundbreaking," said Chris Carmody, Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development. "In a sustainable economy, 'green jobs' won't only come from clean energy or energy efficiency businesses -- they'll also be created by Main Street businesses becoming more competitive through sustainable practices," Carmody continued. "The City of Cleveland is providing a crystal clear economic incentive for regional businesses to improve not only their bottom line, but their triple bottom line," Carmody concluded.

Local governments spend billions of dollars a year purchasing goods and services from private businesses -- from construction services to building and fleet maintenance. Many cities have procurement programs that provide advantages to minority, female and local businesses while a smaller number have policies to buy green products or tax-breaks for sustainable businesses. Cleveland's law is different in that it ties good triple bottom line practices to actual business opportunities. The local and sustainable procurement law is one of a number of sustainable economic developments announced at Mayor Frank Jackson's Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit.

COSE Complements Cleveland law with Incentives for Northeast Ohio Businesses to Save Money on Green Plus™ Certification and Energy Efficiency

The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), which has extensive energy efficiency programs for small businesses, has won a grant from the Ohio Department of Energy for discounted energy audits and Green Plus™ scholarships that complement the City's efforts.

"Small- and medium-sized businesses are critical employers and engines of new job creation -- and often have the fewest resources to pursue sustainability," said Steve Millard, President and Executive Director of COSE. "Today, they are under more pressure to demonstrate positive stewardship of their environment and communities," Millard continued. "The Cleveland's local and sustainable procurement law, COSE's energy efficiency programs and its Green Plus™ partnership are designed to give northeast Ohio small businesses a crucial edge in changing times," Millard concluded.

Through the Council of Smaller Enterprises' (COSE) energy efficiency program, a number of area small businesses may qualify for a $250 energy audit discount as well as a partial rebate for participating in the Green Plus™ program. COSE's discounts can be accessed by smaller employers in Cuyahoga and Lake County who spend less than $150,000 a year on energy costs (75 Green Plus™ rebates are available). COSE has 15 scholarships specifically for businesses in Cleveland's Buckeye - Woodland neighborhood.

The COSE energy efficiency and sustainability program includes:

    1. $250 towards the cost of a comprehensive, professional energy audit
    2. A $200 scholarship towards Green Plus™ (the regular program fee is $550, and COSE members can access Green Plus™ for $350).
    3. Educational resources through COSE and a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
    4. Access to banks that offer financing for energy improvements
    5. Online tools from State and Federal agencies to help companies track sustainability and energy efficiency

Signing Up for Green Plus™
Companies interested in pursuing Green Plus™ certification can sign up at The Green Plus™ retail price is $550. COSE members receive a $200 discount, and a limited number of partial scholarships are available through COSE and the Ohio Department of Energy for Cuyahoga and Lake County employers -- regardless of whether or not they are COSE members.

About the Institute for Sustainable Development and Green Plus™
The Institute for Sustainable Development is a North Carolina Research Triangle non-profit initiative of universities and chambers of commerce to help small businesses and their communities benefit from sustainable practices and to foster a new generation of sustainability leaders. The Institute partners with seventeen chambers of commerce to provide sustainable business education in eleven states. It also runs a national Green Plus™ Sustainability Fellows program, training students from graduate schools around the country to help smaller enterprises understand and benefit from the triple bottom line.

The Institute partners with the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, a 1,400 chamber of commerce network with 1.3 million business members, to offer Green Plus™ nationwide.

Green Plus assesses an employer's business, environmental and community practices and connects the employer with other business mentors and graduate student coaches who make specific recommendations on savings, new revenue and new business opportunities. Businesses and non-profits earning an exceptional score over time can earn Green Plus™ Certification, recognized throughout the American Chamber of Commerce network.

Currently, two Cleveland area companies have achieved full Green Plus Certification™ (the Taylor Companies and Lubestop) and ten other area employers are working toward certification: Cosmic Bobbins; the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) and Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE); Hengst Streff Bajko Architects, Inc.; Humanity's Loom; Licata & Toerek; Pantek Incorporated; Plymouth Church - United Church of Christ; Point to Point, Inc.; Quality Sprinkling Systems; Swiger Coil Systems, LLC; and Sustainable Rhythm.

About the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE)
COSE is the region's largest small business support organization and provides cost-effective group purchasing programs, advocacy on legislative and regulatory issues, and networking and educational resources to help Northeast Ohio's small businesses grow.

With more than 15,000 members, COSE is a driving force in advocating for the priorities of Northeast Ohio's small businesses.

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Institute for Sustainable Development

Institute for Sustainable Development

The Institute seeks to educate, motivate, and recognize smaller enterprises for their efforts toward greater sustainability regardless of their means, and to extend practical knowledge and expertise in sustainability by developing new leaders in the field.

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