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The e2 (environmentally and economically sustainable) program in Salt Lake City gains strength and members- Squatters sets an earth-friendly example

April 4, 2004View for printing

At Squatters Pub Brewery, the water glasses are made from used, amber beer bottles, the bread is made with spent grain from the brewing process and the paper products have recycled content.

But this Salt Lake City brew pub's green philosophy extends beyond recycling: The company is making changes from its brewing process to its take-out boxes that reduce environmental impacts and help promote a sustainable community.

By Rosemary Winters The Salt Lake Tribune

And now the business has Salt Lake City's official green seal to prove it. Salt Lake Brewing Co., which owns Squatters Pub Brewery and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream franchises in Salt Lake City, has become an e2-(environmentally and economically sustainable) certified business.

The e2 initiative was launched last year by Mayor Rocky Anderson and Oasis CafŽ and Golden Braid Bookstore to recognize businesses with environmentally friendly practices and encourage other companies to follow suit. Several have. Since Oasis CafŽ signed on as the first e2 business in January 2003, Elfon LLC, Wilderness Trout Expeditions, The Green Building Center, Wasatch Touring, Squatters Pub Brewery and Uinta Brewing Co. have joined the program.

Proponents of e2 say implementing environmental policies in the workplace can foster loyalty among employees, attract customers and save money.

"There's so much value to having businesses that can adopt practices outside of the past business paradigm and show that responsible practices pay off economically," says Lisa Romney, Salt Lake City environmental affairs coordinator. "If businesses are thriving economically, it helps our community."

To gain e2 certification, businesses complete audits of their practices and set goals to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, increase recycling and conserve water. Businesses also may choose to purchase wind power through Utah Power's Blue Sky Program to offset their consumption of fossil fuels.

Many of these changes require a financial investment, and the e2 program does not provide any funding. The Mayor's Office does give e2 businesses some publicity, a certificate and a window decal. But most initial costs pay off in energy and water savings later.

"By definition, creating a more sustainable business means it will become more efficient; it will save you money," says Ben & Jerry's manager James Soares.

Squatters has spent more on recycled water glasses, energy-efficient light bulbs, wind power and other changes. But the company hasn't increased its overhead. Instead, money has been shifted from its marketing and community contributions budgets to fund the e2 program.

Since Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis opened Squatters in 1989, they have always budgeted for social responsibility, with $10,000 to $60,000 given to nonprofit groups annually.

"Peter and Jeff support a lot of organizations.. . . They rarely say no," says Amy Coady, Squatters' sales and marketing director. "It was a gunshot approach to giving back to the community."

This year, Coady and Soares pushed the company to formalize its social responsibility program and join the e2 initiative. "If we focus the money and time we give back to the community, we can have a greater impact," Soares says.

Soares and Coady say the company can best give back to the community by implementing business practices that reduce impacts on natural resources and create a healthier environment.

"If we as a business community do not increase our sustainability, we'll be running out of water, clean air, energy. . . . We'll be talking about how to survive, not how to make money," says Soares, who is completing a master's of business administration in sustainable business at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, a college in Bainbridge Island, Wash., that offers online courses.

In addition to using recycled products, Squatters uses cloth napkins instead of paper ones, buys 10 percent of its energy as wind power and serves locally grown and organic food when possible. Squatters began using the glassware made from recycled beer bottles even though the cost is triple what it paid for conventional water glasses. The glasses are hand blown by three artists in Mexico, who also make recycled glass platters for Squatters, which the company donates to nonprofit organizations for fund-raisers.

Last month, the company created a committee, called Employee Advisory Referendum (EAR), to allow employees more input on the company's environmental program. The employees suggest charities they want the company to support and organize service projects, including one planned in June for National Trails Clean-Up Day.

Cole and Polychronis plan to expand the environmental program each year. Next, the staff wants to use straws and to-go utensils and containers made of cornstarch rather than paper and plastic products. The cornstarch products are biodegradable and will disintegrate overnight if left in water. Squatters also is researching biodiesel, with a plan to fuel its delivery truck with kitchen grease.

Squatters' management will measure the success of its program by how many other businesses follow the company's example.

"It's something that can snowball," Polychronis says. "Before you know it, it's a community effort." Salt Lake City e2 business initiative The e2 program is open to businesses in Salt Lake City that do not produce more than 2,200 pounds of waste per month. To become an e2 business: * Contact e2 director Lisa Romney at 801-535-7939 to receive help throughout the process. * Download an e2 application at e2_main.htm. * Do an audit of the business's environmental impacts, including water use, energy consumption, waste generation and air pollution. * Set goals to lessen impacts, such as increase recycling, reduce vehicle miles traveled, cut hazardous wastes by 50 percent, decrease water use by 20 percent and buy renewable energy. * Plan a training program for employees to learn about the business's environmental program. * Sign the e2 pledge of commitment to the environment and the community. * Return the application to Lisa Romney.
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