BY DAVE BACKMANN
What if people from all over the world visited Racine to marvel at, and to learn about the community’s commitment to sustainable business practices?
Actually, greater Racine already is a showcase of companies that are demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and they’re winning awards for their efforts. Many companies tout sustainability as a core value, such as S.C. Johnson & Son, Bombardier Recreational Products, Cree Inc., CNH Industrial, United Natural Foods Inc., NFI, Butter Buds Inc., Alter Trading Corp., InSinkErator, Great Northern Corp. and Gateway Technical College.
For the last four years, the Racine Sustainable Business Network has met regularly to spread the word that sustainability is one of the most important practices to pursue. The group works in coordination with the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. It evolved from a branch of Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce and, in 2015, the social justice/environmental network called Greening Greater Racine initiated RSBN.
The network is not a member organization because its meetings are open to everyone. RSBN offers educational programs in February, May, August and November. Usually held at area businesses, these events attract dozens to learn how to:
Lower energy use for lighting
Save energy on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
Embrace renewable energy
Aim for zero waste through recycling
Maintain land to protect watersheds
“Green” their supply chain
Adopt “green” cleaning products and processes
Develop human resources for a sustainable workforce
Support the community and serve as a model
These events often include a tour of the host facility, as was the case at the network’s last meeting held in February at Cree, the lighting manufacturer in Sturtevant. The early morning program encouraged participants to consider upgrading their lighting systems and to be aware of the incentives to do so, with the goal of lowering their carbon footprint and saving money.
Among its products, Cree produces LED bulbs that consume 85 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer.
Duane Henderson, manager and lead lighting educator of Cree’s Lighting Experience Center, explained that lighting upgrades should be more than just replacing light bulbs. Sophisticated, “smart lighting controls” offered through Cree improve employee productivity by syncing workplace lighting with the daily biological rhythms of human beings, he said.
Those attending RSBN’s next event, scheduled for 7-9 a.m., Wednesday, May 15, at Goodwill Industries, 1630 Enterprise Drive, will learn how to work toward “zero waste,” a sustainability goal already attained by the CNH Industrial plant in Racine. May’s meeting will address all forms of waste and recycling and will highlight Goodwill’s work to refurbish and recycle used consumer electronic equipment.
“Goodwill E-cycle is our electronics recycling and refurbishment service, addressing the growing issue of electronic waste,” said Randall Olson, Goodwill business development manager for the organization’s E-cycle and DataShield programs. “As the pace of technology continues to increase, so does the volume of computers, tablets and phones that need to be recycled or refurbished. E-waste is the most rapidly growing segment of the municipal solid waste stream.”
RSBN promotes healthy people, the planet and profits, serving large companies, small businesses, government agencies, schools, and non-profit organizations.
“RSBN is a key component in Racine County’s economic blueprint,” said Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave. “Bringing businesses together to share best practices not only allows for solutions to sustainability, but in the long term will help businesses grow and in turn create more jobs for Racine County.”
To learn more about RSBN and to register for events, visit sustainableracine.com
Dave Backmann a member of the Greening Greater Racine Board of Directors.