Columbia city officials, local businesses and residents gathered at Lucky's Market Wednesday to open nominations for the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement Awards. The program was designed to recognize businesses for reducing global warming pollution in the community.
Columbia Water and Light's John Wulff said businesses reach out to the city looking for a program for sustainability recognition.
"It's important that businesses get recognized to get others on board, and people see some of the good things that our local customers are doing," Wulff said. "Hopefully it makes Columbia a more attractive place to do business."
Manager of Technical Services and Engineering at Shelter Insurance Jack Jones said the company is interested in sustainability. Not only is the company looking into LED lighting, but also solar panels to save energy.
"Anytime we can save resources it's a good thing, so we like to do what we can in that aspect," Jones said. "Plus, it saves money in the long run as far as decreased utilities."
Sustainability Manager of Columbia Barbara Buffalo said businesses should be recognized for taking the extra step.
"We know that when we encourage others within our energy conservation programs that we're sometimes asking them to do something that's above and beyond what is normal business," Buffalo said. "So what we're doing here is we're recognizing those that have gone that extra step to make a lesser impact on the environment."
There are four criteria for businesses to win the award. First, the Environmental Stewardship, which includes using sustainable landscaping or rain gardens, obtaining land use certification, and reducing impervious surfaces. Second, Innovative Best Practices, or producing energy on-site, receiving Energy Star certification, and reducing water usage with devices such as rain barrels. The third includes pollution prevention, such as installing efficient appliances. The fourth is Resource Conservation, like recycling and installing efficient lighting.
Nominations are open until early January. Winners are chosen in February and notified in March.