Thursday, April 16, 2009

It Ain’t Easy Being Green—Or Is It?

Not too long ago, my first thought when I thought about the government “going green” was of Uncle Sam and the Jolly Green Giant making some clandestine agreement in a field. Aside from that comical picture, there wasn’t really much that I knew about how environmental friendly the US government can be.

There has been some historical initiative on Uncle Sam’s part, largely originating in the 70’s with President Carter and his eco-friendly policies – does anybody else remember him turning back the thermostat and wearing sweaters in the White House to conserve energy? Today the government is taking a more active role in making their buildings eco-friendly and is looking to America’s small business owners to help their goal of making America go “green.”

These efforts are to go green are as important now as ever before. With unsure pricing on oil, the focus will be on renewable sources, energy consumption, and reusability. Environmental factors are also increasingly a concern. The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) announced recently that they are using money earmarked for green initiatives to help create 155 jobs geared towards green products and services within the state. Installing solar panels on buildings is just one of the many programs funded by the recent stimulus package; most of the five projects approved by PEDA focus on reusing energy that before was wasted. In addition, Pennsylvania is offering grants of up to $1.5 million for businesses with green initiatives such as solar, wind, waste recovery, and alternative fuels for transportation.

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state that has announced its green efforts. The state of Illinois recently published a document online about their state government offerings of resources to help the community, business, and your home become more efficient and green. They even created a program called the Small Business $mart Energy (SB$E), which is a program which “…provides energy efficiency technical services for small to medium-sized for-profit businesses.”

Uncle Sam is taking active steps toward making America green. There are websites that have many links that offer tools, tips, tricks, and information on how to start a green business. There are also resources to find information on tax credits for green businesses, how to sell your green products or service to the government, gaining grants or loans in order to fund your green business. You name it, and there is a link to its “green” partner. While it may seem that the government is only rewarding efforts directly related toward environmentally friendly research, ANY business going green, even a salon, may be eligible for a grant (more information available at Simply search for related terms and plenty will come up within your state.

According to a study done in August 2008, federal agencies are still in the early phase of implementation. Many small businesses have already made the switch to purchasing and selling green products or by offering green services. Now more than ever, it is a great time to be a green business. Uncle Sam knows it is time to follow suit with the rest of America and to cut back on how much energy is wasted, and he has turned to YOUR small business to help him be earth friendly.

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