• WisBusiness

Thursday, April 2, 2015

MaryBeth Matzek: GreenTier program honors Wisconsin businesses for environmental efforts

By MaryBeth Matzek
Kermit the Frog may have sung, "it's not easy being green," but businesses and organizations in Wisconsin's Green Tier are showing it can be done – while not hurting the bottom line.

Administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Green Tier program recognizes and rewards organizations with superior environmental performance who voluntarily exceed legal requirements. Statewide, there are 83 companies representing 247 facilities who are in Green Tier 1 and 7 in Tier 2. Tier 1 is the program's entry level while Tier 2 is for organizations with a history of superior environmental performance and have an effective Environmental Management System (EMS). There are also four associations who are charter members and looking to help its member companies meet environmental objectives.

Service Litho-Print, a printer, graphics and creative packaging company in Oshkosh, is the latest business to join the program. In its application, the company shared how it conducts annual air-leak audits, installed energy efficient lighting, has a strong recycling program and uses local suppliers as much as possible. For example, 86 percent of production waste was recycled in 2014.

Chief Operating Officer Dan Clark says Service Litho's commitment to sustainability includes its relationships with customers, suppliers and other business partners. The company also participates in Wisconsin Public Service's NatureWise program where it purchases energy from cleaner sources, such as locally-sourced wind power and biogas generation.

"Sustainability is not something we do. It's something we are," he says.

Clark says many ideas for improvements come from Service Litho's employees, something that DNR Regional Director Jean Romback-Bartels commented on when she presented the company with its Green Tier designation.

"You are a very creative company. This is an opportunity for you to look at all aspects of your business and identify ways to be more efficient, more environmentally friendly," she said. "You are the ones who are here day in and day out. You know the systems. If you have an idea, speak up."

Green Tier participants can use the logo in their marketing pieces and are recognized by the state for their superior environmental performance. Clark says participating in the program is good for business and good for the planet, too.

Initiative paying off

The Lakeshore Industry Cluster Initiative, a five-county collaborative led by the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp. and Progress Lakeshore, is paying off for local companies, according to a recent survey.

Eighty percent of cluster participants reported that their participation in the program, which is designed to strengthen relationships among area companies and raise awareness about available products and services, has led to more business. Of those participants completing surveys nearly 78 percent said it's generated up to $50,000 in potential new revenue; another 22 percent said it has the potential to generate $50,000 to $100,000 in new revenue. 

More revenue could be on the way. Progress Lakeshore – in partnership with the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation – received a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Agency and matching funds from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to complete an in-depth study of the Manufacturing Supply Chain for companies in the five-county Lakeshore Region covered by the cluster. That study began in January and will run through September. Consultants are looking to map out business suppliers and customers to better identify opportunities to expand and grow business. 

Progress Lakeshore coordinates the overall initiative with Kewaunee, Calumet, Sheboygan and Door Counties' economic development organizations as well as several technical colleges and New North Inc. 

New state health website

The Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO) has launched MyHealthWi.org, a website to help patients and families take a more active role in their healthcare and help them make value-based healthcare decisions.

The data on the site shows how state clinics measure up to recognized care benchmarks and how providers compare to similar ones in other parts of Wisconsin. Initially, MyHealthWI.org provides ratings in the fields of Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Pediatrics. More specialties will be added in subsequent versions and updates. 

The site also provides useful information on how patients can better talk with their doctor and get the most out of their doctor visit and follow-up care.

-- Matzek, a freelance writer and editor, is the owner of 1Bizzy Writer. She has worked in the past as a news editor at Insight Publications and as business editor at the Appleton Post-Crescent.

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