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Cleaning up their business practices Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Oct 29 2011 12:00 PM

Businesses in Chula Vista will be cleaner by the end of next year thanks to a little friendly competition.

The city recently launched a green business challenge for local businesses to conserve energy and water, save money, reduce waste and pollution, lower greenhouse gas emissions and other sustainability initiatives.

"It's a one stop shop," said environmental resource manager Brendan Reed. "The city can help our businesses become more sustainable to help their bottom line."

In collaboration with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA and Office Depot, the city of Chula Vista launched its challenge at the city's centennial celebration Oct. 15, where approximately 108 businesses were represented as being clean, including hotels, chain stores, mom and pops, banks and restaurants.

"The beauty of our program is, no matter a business' size, it can take really cost-effective steps to improve the community," Reed said.

The challenge is a yearlong initiative through the city's green business program, which provides free technical support and marketing assistance for local businesses that adopt "green" practices.

A business is considered "clean" if it adopts practices for the use of renewable resources and operates in a socially responsible manner to protect the environment.

Businesses will be recognized for their efforts throughout the year as well as at an end of the year awards ceremony.

The city received a small grant for in-kind services from Office Depot and ICLEI, which it used to create the challenge model.

While ICLEI provides programmatic support, Office Depot provides financial assistance for program events, leads a green purchasing training session and supplies green kits with green products.

ICLEI is the nation's leading nonprofit membership association of local governments committed to sustainability, climate protection and clean energy.

Benefits of becoming a clean business in Chula Vista include free advertising, community recognition, cost savings, and free assistance in making clean changes and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Just branding your business helps and shows you're committed to the community," Reed said. "It also creates a good work environment for employees to feel like they are making a difference in the world."

Reed, who leads the conservation section, said the city's goal is to see all current and future businesses enter the challenge.

Reed said that employees save money with energy upgrades alone.

Businesses that elect to participate in the challenge, which begins Jan. 1 and goes through the year, will be evaluated through a "scorecard."

Enrollment goes through Dec. 31.

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