23 Local Companies Recognized For Sustainable Practices

NEW ORLEANS – Nearly two dozen New Orleans-area businesses and leaders were recognized for their social and environmental impact and sustainable business practices in New Orleans at the The Love Your City Awards Ceremony on Jan. 25. 

The "best all around" awards went to Green Coast Enterprises and Folgers Coffee.

Green Coast Enterprises also took home the leadership award for clean energy for their work in building affordable, energy efficient housing in New Orleans.

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Folgers Coffee was recognized for its commitment to achieving zero waste, a practice aimed at eliminating unused byproducts. The New Orleans roasting location hopes to reach its goal by 2020.

Sugar Roots Farm, a working farm in Orleans Parish, won the people's choice award. The farm collects New Orleans food waste to feed their livestock and to make compost, reducing what goes to the landfill, according to its website.

$3,000 was raised at the event in the silent auction to be donated to the People’s Choice winner to further sustainability improvements within their operations.

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Other winners in categor included:

Stormwater Winners

Achievement: Landrieu Concrete and Cement Industries

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  • For the Achievement Award, this organization has made significant improvement in learning how to manage stormwater at its facility. Their runoff catchment system is going to prevent stormwater runoff from going into local city drains and also allow employees to reuse rainwater and washwater for the company trucks. The system saves the company 174,000 gallons of water a month, saving over 2 million gallons annually, with $15,000 of annual savings. The company is learning how to shift their services to a for-benefit model by training their team on the installation of pervious cement.

Leadership: Urban Conservancy

  • For the Leadership Award in this category, the Urban Conservancy stood out in their commitment to not just their mission, but tracking their impact. To date, this organization has removed 18,474.73 square feet of paving which provide visible examples of green infrastructure in the urban environment and serve as models and inspiration for future efforts throughout the city.

Buy Local Winners

Achievement: Empire Services

  • For efforts to shop locally, the Achievement Award was given to a company that purchases 90 percent of their needs through local vendors and suppliers, and 50 percent of these suppliers are women or minority owned.

Leadership: Natural Awakenings Magazine

  • For the Leadership Award, one particular company rose to the top in expanding the presence of local businesses in our community. The magazine makes sure that 80 percent of its content is made from local companies. In addition to their core services, this business owner goes above and beyond to provide opportunities for local, small companies – such as partnering with Whole Foods to organize quarterly health festivals for small vendors to gain more exposure, organizing and promoting local fundraisers for non-profits like Top Box Foods, and organized a series of wellness workshops at no cost to participants.

Healthy Fresh Food Winners

Achievement: Carmo

  • This restaurant does virtually all it can to operate in a socially and environmentally conscious way. Not only do they compost and source locally, they are also working with local chefs to educate others about buying local food and are working with fishermen to source this directly.
  • This company also sources ingredients that require less energy to produce. For example, biologists consider wild boar one of the greatest threats to our wetlands and to keep the population at an even level at least 70 percent of the animals must be culled annually. So now this restaurant switched to using 100 percent wild boar rather than conventionally-produced pork in spite of the costs doubling. Similarly, in 2017 the company instrumental in serving and promoting the consumption other invasive and underutilized species, such as Asian carp (silverfin), lionfish, Gulf squid, whiting and king snake eels.

Leadership: Compost NOW

  • In a very short amount of time in 2017, this organization has converted 30,000 lbs of food waste into compost with multiple drop-off locations at library sites around the city often by using public transit.

Employee Wellness Winners

Achievement: New Orleans City Park

  • For an organization with hundreds of employees, they managed to host two organization-wide employee breakfast meetings and an annual wellness fair for their team. The company started a monthly sustainability themed lunch and learn for all employees in order to provide extra educational opportunities featuring Compost N.O.W., Bike Easy, Energy Smart and Energy Wise, and Grow Dat Youth Farm.

Leadership: Solar Alternatives

  • Solar Alternatives checked off several boxes for employee wellness: paid health care, retirement plans, paid maternity leave, flexible work arrangements, flexible workstations, diversity training, gym access, window access for 75 percent of the team and a formal ethics policy. 

Clean Energy Winners

Achievement: The Green Project

  • The Green Project participated in all three programs of the EnergySmart program: a special volunteer weatherization program for local nonprofits run by an Energy Smart partner, EnergyWise, which reduced drafts in office space by 20 percent and upgraded a standard thermostat to a smart thermostat. They also participated in the Energy Smart Small Commercial Solutions program to upgrade all of our interior and exterior lighting to LED models. Overall, over 200 fixtures were upgraded. They became an official retail partner for the Energy Smart Retail Lighting Rebate program. In their store, they now have new LED lightbulbs for sale with a 90 percent discount of prices that are found in big box stores. A large percentage of their customers are low to moderate income residents that cannot afford new bulbs or to shop in the well-known home improvement stores. This allows them to bring energy-efficiency information and fixtures to the community.

Leadership: Green Coast Enterprises

  • This company manages energy for some of the largest and smallest consumers in the city. They also target developers of affordable multi-family housing, and help roughly 50 percent of the projects funded in any year by the state housing finance agencies in Louisiana and Mississippi comply with their green building requirements. They are a Better Buildings Challenge partner with the US Department of Energy, and across our portfolio of 17 buildings have helped create one of the more energy efficient housing stocks in the region. Their Pythian renovation will be a LEED-Silver historic renovation of a long-dormant community asset.
  • They are in the planning stages for what we believe will be the first net zero energy, mixed-income condominium project ever in Louisiana. Stay tuned for that next year.

Equitable Hiring Winners

Achievement: Walgreens

  • This company has implemented a Pharmacy Technician Career Pathway for opportunity youth in the city of New Orleans. These participants get career readiness training, mental counseling, and personal interview trainings, providing holistic support in the hiring and training process. This program helps all participants gain livable wages and greater economic security.

Leadership: The Ruby Slipper

  • Ruby Slipper regularly hires individuals with significant barriers to employment, whether that be a need childcare, transportation barriers, or a criminal history.

Clean Transportation Winners

Achievement: Insurance Design & Placement

  • This small company winning the achievement award is an incredible leader for clean transportation. It is one of few businesses to offer transit passes for employees, they have attended and provided input into the RTA's Strategic Mobility Plan–establishing the long-term transit goals for our region, they participated in Mayoral transit "Ride Along's" with 2017 candidates to promote expanding transit service overall and in New Orleans East. They participated in New Orleans East forum with RTA CFO, Councilmember Brossett, RTA Board Chair, VAYLA representative. They are a member of RTA's Riders' Advisory Committee to highlight rider issues and make recommendations to RTA Board.

Leadership: Friends of the Lafitte Greenway

  • This organization revolutionized transportation options for the city of New Orleans. Over 300,000 individuals use the Lafitte Greenway bike path and green space connecting mixed neighborhoods of all sizes throughout the city, and its no doubt their existence is in part why New Orleans now ranks 10th in the US in the percentage of residents who bike to work each day.

Inclusive Workplace Winners

Achievement: Dancing Grounds

  • Once staff are hired, they are required to participate in an anti-racism training and they encourage any partner they work with to do as well. As a company, they participate in inclusivity trainings and have partnered with other local organizations in organizing workshops that expand beyond their doors.

Leadership: Lighthouse for the Blind – Louisiana

  • This organization hires with inclusivity in mind by ensuing that 75 percent of all employees hired are blind. This year, they will spend 8 hours of training for each employee and created a strategic plan to increase their minimum wage to a living wage.

Zero Waste Award Winners

Achievement: GoodWood

  • As of 2017, GoodWood recycle about 90 percent of its post-project building materials. It has completely eliminated plastic bottle usage by installing an energy-efficient water cooler with Pure Water Technologies. They have implemented glass recycling and donate wood shavings to local farms, doubled the amount of recycling bins and are buying blue bins with clear labeling. They not only recycle everything they use, they also replace wood materials used by planting trees to take their place through a partnership with SOUL.

Leadership: Republic Services

  • From being the first pilot to recycle at Mardis Gras to doing free waste audits for companies interested in becoming zero waste.

Collaboration Winners

Achievement: Recirculating Farms Coalition

  • This company knows what it means to partner locally. From their site locations for their farms to community workshops, they regularly work with various entities to offer more and better trainings and opportunities for their growers. They work with National Young Farmers, LSU AG, USDA (Farm Service Agency) and others to bring professional trainings and information to our growers. One of their primary goals is to bring quality professional trainings into the community to develop local job opportunities. In the past 3 months they have offered 10 various training and information sessions across the community.

Leadership: Water Collaborative

  • Our leadership Award for this category goes to an organization that existed by itself for years without funding, but because it formed a strong collaborative network bringing together hundreds of organizations. Many other organizations were inspired by their leadership to develop similar collaborative networks. This organization partnered with several training experts to host educational workshops and lunch and learns about green infrastructure, serving about 50 people participate each month for 10 months for a total of 500 hours for the year.

"The Love Your City Awards are important for two reasons. First, they celebrate the incredible impact of often untold stories and unsung heroes already succeeding in this work," said Liz Shephard, the founder and CEO of LifeCity. "And secondly, they inspire us to dig deeper and innovate new ways of growing our economy while strengthening our community and environment."

Learn more at www.mylifecity.com.

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