Click the image to find out more about this year’s GRalley sponsored by Uncommon Ground on September 19, 2009.

Does your favorite Andersonville business boast excellent indoor air quality, energy-efficient plumbing and wall paint and flooring that are environmentally safe?    Being green in business is a growing trend to remain competitive.   On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Andersonville ushered in its first certified-green businesses.

At least 5 of your favorite Andersonville businesses-with several more on the way by year’s end-are certifiably green in their operations.    Among them are Hamburger Mary’s (restaurant), Green Genes (shop), The Green Sky (eco-boutique), The Coffee Studio (espresso bar), and Joel Berman Architecture & Design.

Enter Eco-Andersonville, a sustainable movement where being green is not only good for the environment, but for business and for the neighborhood.     If you live in Andersonville, it’s also good for your property value:   You are a resident of the open-minded Chicago neighborhood chosen to pilot a progressive green business program.  Location, location, location.

The Sustainable Business Certification Program helps a business owner become certified green, decal included for display on the window to validate the certification, with corresponding stars (one star is basic green, three stars is exceptional green).  It’s not unlike having a Better Business Bureau sticker on the window.   Make no mistake– becoming certified green is a rigorous undertaking, not to mention a bit of a financial investment.

Is it worth the time and expense?   Just ask the owners how much they saved on energy this month (Hamburger Mary’s saved about $1000 in monthly expenses using energy-efficient methods).   Being sustainable is simply the right thing to do, and everybody wins.   Sustainable businesses not only serve customers who value sustainability, but they also improve the environment and encourage other businesses to become green certified.

The benefits of certified green for business owners are far more than window decals in terms of marketing strategies.   Certified green businesses can use the Eco-Andersonville logo, are listed in the Andersonville neighborhood directory and website, are promoted by the Andersonville Development Corporation at events during the year, and are promoted as certified green businesses via the chamber of commerce’s social media (Twitter, Facebook, et. al.)    With such powerful marketing, the five Andersonville business owners who became certified green in 2009 firmly believe their investments will pay dividends.

How did Andersonville become so green?   Eco-Andersonville and the green certification are products of research begun in 2007 by Andersonville Development Corporation.   At that time, ADC posed the question, ” How green is the Andersonville community?”    As it turns out– quite green.

Shopping locally is what makes the Andersonville neighborhood distinctive.  Residents of this culturally-diverse, closely knit community value shopping, eating, drinking, and socializing at businesses that are within walking distance.     They also want their businesses to be environmentally ethical.    According to Andrea Dono in Main Street News, market research reveals that 84% of Andersonville shoppers would not only tend to choose a certified green business over one that’s not certified, but would also tend to spend more money at the green establishment over one that’s not.

ADC also validates the Eco-Andersonville movement in their research finding:  A third of Americans on the whole have growing interest in the environment.   Another nod to green businesses, they found that 93% of Americans believe business owners have an environmental responsibility in their operations (2007 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey. Adecco Survey, April 2007).   Green business trends are developing all over the country–with Andersonville at the forefront.

Thanks to intensive research efforts of business certification programs by intern-turned ADC board member, Suzi Thackston, ADC created their very own green certification program.     According to Thackston’s model, 3 principles rule sustainability:    Environment, economic and social.  To be certified green, Thackston’s model requires a business to make an achievement in each of the 3 P’s of sustainability:   People, planet and prosperity.   To illustrate, let’s take the example of Hamburger Mary’s:

People:    Business is a sustainable place to work that rewards the community which supports it.   Hamburger Mary’s promotes other Andersonville neighborhood businesses.    

Planet:   Business uses energy wisely.   Hamburger Mary’s uses low-flow plumbing.

Prosperity:   Business uses innovative financial practices and is accountable to environment in buying and selling products.  Hamburger Mary’s purchases locally-made beer.

Andersonville Development Corporation will track the progress of each certified-green business for achievements in each of the 3 P’s of sustainability.   By tracking the businesses’ accomplishments, ADC will gather hard data to help promote the growth of certified-green businesses.

So, the next time you visit Hamburger Mary’s or see Joel Berman in The Coffee Studio, remember that, although it’s not easy becoming green in business, it’s benefits are well worth the effort.

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