This year’s 16 award winners were selected from applicants across the state and represent a wide variety of business sectors. These businesses took a number of different actions to save money and improve their internal operations while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts. Some of the steps they took included installing LED lights, solar panels and energy-efficient equipment; eliminating toxic chemicals and solvents; using eco-friendly, recycled/reused/repurposed products; composting food scraps and plant material; installing aerators on faucets and low-flow toilets; and starting or enhancing recycling and water conservation programs. All of our winners promote sustainability and environmental stewardship by participating in community events, serving on green committees and teams, speaking at conferences, teaching a course, using social media, and engaging their employees.
Capitola Veterinary Hospital is a full-service veterinary medical facility that has taken many steps to become an eco-friendly center for all pets and clients. As a 2013 Climate Leader award recipient, Capitola Veterinary Hospital looked to 2014 to build upon its already sustainable foundation. The veterinary hospital essentially “mastered” the paperless office by converting to a digital medical records system, invested in a paperless fax machine that allows the business to post requests or previous history directly to a patient’s medical chart, and communicate with clients electronically. Clients are asked to use the Sign Easy app on the iPad for authorization signatures, which makes it easy for hospital staff to email the document and attach it to the chart without any paper being used. General communications, prescription requests, and special orders are written using wet erase pens and laminated sheets, which can be washed and reused. Technicians also use laminated sheets to document the health of the patient, scan them into the computer and digitally attach them to patient charts. These small, simple actions have saved the hospital $600 on paper costs annually! Capitola Veterinary Hospital also converted its X-rays from film to digital, which drastically reduced its chemical and hazardous waste and has the added benefit of requiring less radiation than film X-rays. Capitola Veterinary Hospital previously replaced its computers with ENERGY STAR models and retrofitted all of its old fluorescent tubes with high efficiency LED tubes and T-8 tubes, resulting in annual savings of approximately $600-$700. The veterinary hospital installed low flow toilets and sinks, and is proud of its innovative recycling program. Styrofoam coolers are given to the “Waste to Waves” program that turns recycled Styrofoam into surfboard blanks. For these actions, Capitola Veterinary Hospital was presented with the Climate Leader Award in 2013. In 2014, Capitola Veterinary Hospital continued to take significant steps to become even more eco-friendly. The veterinary hospital partnered with Arcadia Power to purchase 100 percent clean energy for its electrical usage in the form of wind power Renewable Energy Credits. The business also created a clean energy incentive program for its clients, providing them with gift certificates to their hospital if they sign up for clean energy for their home. To conserve energy and gas, Capitola Veterinary Hospital upgraded its dated analog thermostat to a programmable ENERGY STAR thermostat. Hospital owners converted from paper advertising to online marketing, which proved to have a much greater return on investment! Capitola Veterinary Hospital’s cumulative efforts and achievements make them an eco-friendly model for other hospitals and small businesses to follow.