Learn How to 'Blue' Your Business at Spare the Air Employer Summit

Add "blue" to the lexicon of terms that describe efforts to improve the environment. Evoking the image of clear, pollution-free skies, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) is using the color as a motif in its second annual Spare the Air Employer Summit slated for Tuesday, August 19, in Oakland.

The theme for this year's summit is Spare the Air, Every Day: Employer Perspectives on How to "Blue" Your Business. According to Kristine Roselius, senior public information officer in the district's San Francisco office, "blue-ing" a business is similar to "greening" a business, a reference to actions that reduce an organization's carbon footprint. BAAQMD is using "blue" to denote a specific focus on measures that improve air quality by keeping the sky blue.

Many of the options that fall into this category relate to transportation, specifically reducing the amount of driving. At the individual level, positive clean air choices range from using public transit and car-pooling to limiting the use of wood-burning devices that emit harmful particulate matter, Roselius explains. When people do get behind the wheel, she recommends bundling errands to make fewer trips and driving "smart," at steady, fuel-conserving speeds.

But there are many other things that can be done, and at next month's meeting BAAQMD representatives will join a panel of leading employers to explore the possibilities. The preliminary line-up of panelists includes William C. Acevedo, Senior Counsel at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean, in Oakland; Jennifer Freitas, manager of Sustainability Benefits at Clif Bar & Co., in Berkeley; and Rick Taylor, owner of Elder Creek Landscapes in Sebastapol.

All three of these firms have demonstrated leadership in implementing innovative environmentally friendly initiatives. Wendel Rosen was the first law firm in the country certified as a green business, back in 2003, and is currently involved in a number of Bay Area and national programs associated with environmental and sustainable business practices. To encourage recycling, Clif Bar has a program that collects used energy bar wrappers and turns them into eco-chic products. It also promotes Cool Tags, natural wind energy credits that help offset carbon dioxide emissions. Elder Creek Landscapes eschews toxic herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers and uses products approved for certified organic agriculture wherever possible.

Summit attendees will get information on how to start a clean air program from scratch and encourage the expansion of existing workplace efforts. Panelists and other employers will share their experiences building cost-effective sustainable programs and demonstrate how they benefit employees and clients.

"This is an opportunity for companies to come together, share and compare notes, and learn how to inspire employees to make clean air choices to protect air quality and our climate," Roselius observes.

Running from 8 to 10:30 a.m., the summit will be held at the Wendel Rosen office at 1111 Broadway, 24th floor, in Oakland, near the 19th Street BART station. The event is free and breakfast is included. Those interested in attending will find more information at www.sparetheair.com . Online registration details will be posted shortly.

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