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Stanislaus Green Team Makes a Difference 

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Rikki Keenan - SGT Coordinator and IT Director

Rikki Keenan
SGT Coordinator,
Director of Technology & Marketing

Do you want to be green, or do you want to be profitable? For many years, it seemed like every business had to make this choice. But not anymore. As public awareness of the importance of green operation grows, so too do opportunities for environmentally-friendly business practices that also boost bottom lines.

That’s where the Stanislaus Green Team comes in. The Stanislaus Green Team is a program of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce intended to foster collaborative effort between private businesses, municipal and county solid waste divisions, economic development professionals and the community of Stanislaus County to create a nexus between commerce and environment, also to enhance services that address economic, environmental and quality of life issues in Modesto and Stanislaus County

Stanislaus Green Team Coordinator Rikki Keenan was brought on board at the program’s inception in November 2012 to help spearhead this revolution in business-friendly green thinking. According to Keenan, the Green Team is all about spreading the message of environmental stewardship while reducing the cost of doing business.

Better Business Through Collaboration

As the Stanislaus Green Team’s Coordinator, Keenan organizes free monthly educational meetings that are open to the public. These meetings are regularly attended by representatives from entities including Stanislaus Council of Governments, San Joaquin Council of Governments, City of Modesto, MID, PG&E, San Joaquin Valley Air District, Alliance, Covanta and other Stanislaus County businesses and organizations concerned about their role in sustaining a healthier environment and quality of life. By pooling knowledge and resources at these meetings, these businesses pave the way toward a greener future for Stanislaus County while helping the local business community manage costs.

Outside of the monthly meetings, Keenan has also brought together a panel of experts into a REACON (Recycling, Energy and Air CONservation) Team that visits the operational facilities of Chamber members and provides personalized advice on ways the businesses can reduce costs and increase energy efficiency in their operation, said Keenan. In the past year, this REACON Team—made up of representatives from American Recycling, DeHart, CalGreen Recycling, IT Solutions, JKB Energy, Schneider Electric and IBEW—have visited over 30 area businesses and organizations and provided extensive customized solutions and resource options specified to their industry. Each business that schedules a free visit from the REACON Team is given a Stanislaus Green Team binder that includes checklists designed to help them evaluate current practices and streamline their operation based on categories from Solid Waste and Energy Usage to Water Reduction and Air Quality Impact.

“Once they have completed the checklists and documented their proof, the REACON Team reviews it and does an evaluation to see if there’s anything else the business can do to improve,” said Keenan. So far, three local businesses have completed the extensive program and been certified as “Green Sustainable Businesses.”SGTQuote01

“All it takes is human resources,” said Keenan. “It doesn’t take a lot of money, and projects often end up paying for themselves over time.”

Modesto-based Boyd Corporation was recently certified as a Green Sustainable Business by the REACON Team, said Keenan. In part, the certification recognizes the corporation’s efforts to enact new green policies and to fit environmentally-friendly practices into its everyday operations over the last six years. One practice that Boyd has implemented is a structured recycling program. This program alone saved Boyd Corporation over $14,220 last year and has totaled nearly $74,000 in savings since 2008. “You would be surprised at what you can recycle,” stated Adriana Mora, Quality Assurance Manager at Boyd. Through concurrent initiatives with solar power, lighting, water and more, the corporation’s total savings have ended up being even larger over this time period.

“It is crystal clear that programs like the Stanislaus Green Team work and are highly effective at promoting the message that all of the human efforts behind implementing healthier and green sustainable practices are well worth the time and monetary investment,” said Keenan.

“I wouldn’t have accepted this position if it was just about tree hugging,” she added. “I took it because I knew I could help businesses save money. I’ve been a business owner and I relate to how hard it can be to stay focused on the bottom line, especially in a down economy. It’s really gratifying to see that people are saving money through Stanislaus Green Team.”

In The Footsteps of Green Team San Joaquin

The Stanislaus Green Team follows in the footsteps of the Green Team San Joaquin, an initiative spearheaded in 2006 by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce. “Their model is the foundation, but every county is different in how they function and look at the economy,” said Keenan.

Keenan credits Modesto-based business American Recycling—which had seen the benefits of Green Team San Joaquin firsthand—with the idea of establishing a local Stanislaus County program. “American Recyling has been a huge help in creating this program and is really the core of why this got started,” said Keenan. “They’re faithful investors, not just monetarily but also with their time. Linden Coffee is our Board Chair and is incredibly active and influential in the program. He’s our spokesman, he helps run the meetings and get speakers and so much more. He’s been there every step of the way, from the first meeting until today. They’re continually helping because they believe in the cause and the message.”

How To Get Involved

The Stanislaus Green Team is a non-profit program operated on a budget solely dependent on the funds from investors and sponsors. According to Keenan, the nonprofit submitted a Program/Grant application to the Valley Can organization this past March and is hopeful that Valley Can recognizes the hard work and efforts of the Stanislaus Green Team.

Any businesses or individuals interested in learning more about the Stanislaus Green Team’s mission can contact Rikki Keenan by phone at 209.577.5757 Ext.103 or can visit the Stanislaus Green Team website at StanislausGreenTeam.com.

“All it takes is human resources,” said Keenan. “It doesn’t take a lot of money, and projects often end up paying for themselves over time.”

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