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More businesses join community effort to cut greenhouse gas pollution

As a member of Cville's Green Building Alliance, this chain of gas stations is installing solar panels and EV chargers.
Community Climate Collaborative
As a member of Cville's Green Building Alliance, this chain of gas stations is installing solar panels and EV chargers.

Two years ago the Community Climate Collaborative launched a new program – the Green Business Alliance – to help firms headquartered in Charlottesville join the transition to clean energy.

“We really like to start with energy audits, understanding their buildings and putting in a lot of commonsense improvements," says the non-profit's head of corporate sustainability. "Then typically we’ll see them move on to solar, and we have a lot of solar panels, I think over 2,000, and then we’re starting to see some pilots of electric vehicles.”

Coles Jennings notes the alliance began with 16 members and just added ten more.

“A ton of value of this initiative is really just feeling like you’re not alone and being able to share with other members lessons that you’ve learned, maybe vendors that you’re using, so the quarterly meetings that we have, they serve as part networking, part happy hour, part education .”

Each firm has pledged to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas it produces by at least 30% over the next five years. Jennings and his colleagues help to calculate the firm’s current carbon footprint – assessing the energy used in their buildings and by their vehicles.

“We’re really trying to act as that starter kit to provide some climate coaching and to sort of get them headed in the right direction, really sort of holding them accountable, and we’ve heard over and over from businesses that they really appreciate that.”

One member, Tiger Fuels, runs a chain of convenience stores and gas stations.

“They acquired a solar company. That became Tiger Solar," Jennings recalls. "That company has done a lot of solar installations in the region, but they’re also putting it to work on their own facilities, and there really is something kind of striking about seeing solar panels on the roof of a gas station. It just kind of made me pause and realize this is what the energy transition can look like.”

Other members of the Green Business Alliance include Martha Jefferson Hospital, Martin Horn construction, a doctor’s office, Westminster Canterbury assisted living, Thistlerock Mead, which makes a drink from fermented honey, the local technical education center and a car dealership -- Carter-Myers Automotive. The first firms to join in 2021 already report reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of 29 percent.

Updated: May 17, 2023 at 3:26 PM EDT
Editor's Note: Tiger Fuels is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief