Hawthorn Woods hoping to spread environmental ethos to local business community
Fresh on the heels of another recognition for its environmental stewardship, Hawthorn Woods has introduced a program to promote and recognize green practices in businesses large and small.
Under the Green Business Program of Hawthorn Woods, participants can earn points in various categories and secure a Green Seal designation as well as promotion on the village website and the town's social media outlets.
The idea is to educate business owners on options for "greening" their businesses in areas such as energy usage, managing waste and supporting natural landscapes.
Efforts from any type of business, from one with a single employee to a large organization, will be promoted to residents and potential customers.
The program is an extension of the village's ongoing commitment to environmental practices, according to Pam Newton, chief operating officer.
"Hawthorn Woods is rural by design," she said. "We like to keep nature as it is and make it even better."
Continuing efforts to preserve and enhance the landscape has become part of the village's identity, she said.
One goal of the village's sustainability plan is to "cultivate local and sustainable developments, jobs and businesses," according to Robin Grooms, sustainability coordinator. The Green Business Program is a strategy to achieve that larger goal.
"We hope to provide this tool for businesses to use to improve their sustainable development or green performance and certify that performance to potential customers," Grooms said.
A Green Business Guidebook has links to resources explaining how various items can be completed. Going green can attract customers, differentiate businesses from competitors and save money, the village says.
Points are assigned in various categories. In the energy category, for example, changing settings on all computers and printers to go into sleep mode after 10 minutes of inactivity earns 1 point and installing solar panels per village code earns 8 points.
A total of 25 points are needed to earn the Green Seal. Actions must be documented according to instructions in the application. Grooms will be the primary reviewer, with staff members assisting to determine if a business has earned the award.
Newton said sustainability and environmental stewardship has become ingrained in the community since it won a national award about five years ago from an organization called America in Bloom.
"Then we knew we really had something special here," she said.
Since then, the village has worked to raise the level of involvement and expand its overall effort, which is led by the 15-member Hawthorn Woods in Bloom committee.
"Some groups plan," Newton said. "This group plants."
In April, Hawthorn Woods received the 2020 Governor's Hometown Award in environmental stewardship category for transforming an 11.5-acre overgrown area into Brierwoods Preserve, an accessible habitat for woodland and wetland pollinators.
"It has become an identity," Newton said.