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DSC_0256Earlier this year,  Renaissance's Tampa office completed 12-week long sustainable business certification program. Run by the Sustany Foundation, a local non-profit focused on promoting sustainability, the program is aided with the help of the Tampa Downtown Partnership and given the final seal of approval by the City of Tampa. The program also helps students develop their skills in sustainability by pairing them with organizations to provide research and help develop recommendations. This was the first time the Sustany Sustainable Business Program (SSBP) has focused specifically on downtown businesses. Ten businesses participated in the program, most of them restaurants, two offices, and one bike shop. Because this was the first time it was downtown business-focused, the businesses were guinea pigs in a way. The program included three workshops that covered the topics of energy, transportation and waste, and each business was paired with a student sustainability specialist from the University of Tampa or the University of South Florida who helped guide them through the program and develop the final action plan. The students researched sustainable business practices and identified opportunities for the businesses to implement more green practices. At this point, the focus of the certification process is more about education and awareness than creating a strict certification process.

What We Learned

What we learned is that we are already fairly environmentally-conscious; we recycle the paper that we use, leave lights off and use natural light, and offer a monetary incentive for those not driving to work, to name a few. The areas where we can make the largest improvements are paper usage and plastic cutlery.

Some key highlights from Renaissance’s Sustainability Action Plan include:

  • Consider the sustainable attributes and service of our vendors when making a purchasing decision
  • Select materials with the least amount of packaging or use recycled packaging
  • Track the use of paper to ensure that there is no unnecessary waste
  • Reduce the use of plastic cups and cutlery and offer reusable options

Click here to read the full Sustainability Action Plan.

Because the Tampa office is located in a large multi-story building overseen by a property management company, we are limited in certain areas to make improvements. For example, the office has little control over temperature (even though it might be 90 degrees outside, it is always wise to dress for winter). Hopefully in future rounds of the green business certification, property management companies will get involved and begin addressing the ways in which they can make positive changes at the building level. This will have a much bigger impact on the overall sustainability of downtown Tampa.

The Sustany Foundation will continue to follow-up with businesses that have gone through the program to track their progress and evaluate if they are achieving their goals. If you would like to read more about the program and the other participating businesses, visit the Sustany Green Business website.

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–Alana Brasier, Cities That Work Blog

[For regular news and updates, be sure to follow Renaissance on Twitter @CitiesThatWork]

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