Although going green is the best direction to move in to help the environment, many businesses are still hesitant to make the leap. Creating green procedures and policies within a company can have a cost initially, thus businesses need a reason to justify the extra initial cost. Presenting awards to businesses and organizations that have taken significant steps towards environmental conservation can help draw customers into these businesses. Many cities and communities have taken on this proactive step towards going green and present annual awards in several categories to help stir consumer activity.
Cities Do Their Part
The City of Raleigh, North Carolina, has eleven categories for their Environmental Awards. Each award is orientated to a particular group, organization, or person, and requires specific environmental focus to qualify for it. There is an Environmental Awareness award that recognizes those that have shown the ability to lead or teach people about environmental awareness. Raleigh focuses on the future by awarding a Youth Award to students, or groups of students, who have participated in green programs or activities. Raleigh even has a Legacy Award that recognizes a lifetime of work. Other awards include construction, conservation, urban work, institutions, landscaping and more.
In Richland, Washington, recognition awards are given out to organizations or people that made the greatest accomplishments throughout the year. According to their website, at www.richland.wa.us, there are three awards, going to the best Program, Project, and Business of the year. Two more awards go to those with Excellence in Environmental Stewardship for an individual and then a group. Richland also gives out Honorable Mention awards to runner ups in each category.
The City of Boston, Massachusetts, does not limit the number of awards given out, but does state that winners are not eligible for awards in the following two years. Thus, Boston allows for more businesses, organizations, and individuals to be recognized. These Boston Green Awards were established to bring recognition to those people and businesses that have performed extraordinary efforts to conserve the environment whether in their home, or in their business practices. Boston handed out 19 awards in 2011, two of which included sustainable food awards, a new category, to restaurants and stores that provide sustainable food and recycle left-overs in an environmentally conscious way.
States Can Help Financially
Green Awards are not just limited to a trophy or certificate and can include a financial incentive. Many states are following the federal government’s example and encouraging going green by implementing tax incentives and breaks. Maryland encourages large businesses such as factories or stores to build within designated areas by awarding them with up to an eight percent tax incentive of the cost of their new green building project. New York rewards owners and their tenants with tax credits for conserving energy, reducing their carbon footprint, and making their air quality better. Unfortunately, many other state programs, such as in California, Alaska, and New Jersey, have ended due to the lack of continued support from the federal government. Most of the state tax incentive, or rebate programs, were funded by a federal grant that was allocated to each state, and mandated that each state decide of the funds were to be rewarded. As federal support has begun to recede, the responsibility to encourage continuing environmental projects has now fallen to the local level. Thus, many city governments have created recognition awards to provide a monetary assistance to businesses and organizations through consumers.
With Federal and State level programs running out of funding, it is up to each individual to take the time and effort to push their local communities to create award programs to give proper recognition to those that take the steps to going green. Just as a child should be raised by a community, it takes a communities dedication to environmental conservation to make a real change. Each individual can make a difference, and starting at home is the first step. Next is to make the choice of where purchases are made, and what types of products are bought. Only when commerce realizes that the consumer will go to where the environmental conservative products and businesses are, can a real improvement to the world be made.