Ashley Ford, The Province, Friday, June 29, 2007
B.C. environmental groups and small business are taking tiny steps toward taking the carbon out of their footprint.

Ecotrust Canada, the Pembina Institute, David Suzuki Foundation and several corporate sponsors yesterday launched a pilot program with 13 B.C. companies it eventually hopes will create free software for B.C.’s more than 370,000 small- and medium-sized businesses to show them how to go green.

Ian Gill, president of Ecotrust Canada, a non-profit organization, said the project — the Carbon Neutral Workgroup for Small Business — is aimed at bringing a largely forgotten sector of business into the carbon-cutting game.

Until now, Gill said, most of the talk relating to companies going green has involved government deals with large firms while ignoring the fact that small business is a "big part of the economy."

"There is no data on the carbon emissions of small businesses, yet they are responsible for 30 per cent of the B.C. GDP and 58 per cent of all private-sector jobs," he said.

"No one is talking or thinking about how to help them."

Gill said participating companies will identify cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions.

"By helping to save the planet, they will be saving themselves money, too. It’s part of a growing conservation economy driven by the dramatic change in consumer and corporate attitudes toward the environments as a result of global warming."

Len Laycock, president of Upholstery Arts and a participant, said his company started "walking down the green road" 30 months ago and is already seeing some payoffs from its new regime.

While there are costs to going green, they can be offset by other benefits, including increased business, he said.

"We have to get off this idea of cost because we simply have no choice but to face up to what has to be done," he said.

His company has replaced harmful petrochemicals with sustainable, non-toxic, renewable materials.

"Our customers have welcomed the changes and inspired us to go further," he said.

Other participants are Atleo River Air Service, Chislett Manson Architects, Community Futures of Strathcona, King Pacific Lodge, Pacific Coast Fisheries Conservation Co., reSource Rethinking Building, Small Potatoes Urban Delivery, Tofino Bus, Trilogy Fish Co., Triumph Timber, Vancouver Foundation and The Woodward Flooring Co.

aford@png.canwest.com

© The Vancouver Province 2007