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Sustainable businesses honored at NWEC conference

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On the Scene
Wednesday, December 05, 2012

BY EMMA HALL

12.05.12 Blog SustainableFive Oregon companies were honored by the Oregon Governor's office as leaders in the sustainability field at the Northwest Environmental Conference and Tradeshow on Dec. 4. The awards were established in 2006 by an Executive Order from Ted Kulongoski. Secretary of State Kate Brown presented the awards, applauding industry leaders for helping Oregon prove it is possible to grow the economy while still protecting the environment. "Oregon is known around the world as a pioneer in sustainability," she said. 

Rising Star Award: Bridgetown Natural Foods

Portland-based Bridgetown Natural Foods is a contract manufacturer of all-natural snack products with 150 employees. The company gets 20% of their supplies from local sources, and is working toward a 0% waste landfill initiative. To accomplish this, they sell their waste products to be turned into hog feed. 

Plant Director Jensen Thome accepted the award, and his advice to other companies was that even small changes can add up to make a huge difference in sustainability. "At just 2-1/2 years old, we're humbled to be among today's winners," he said. 

Technology Award: EasyStreet Online Services

Cloud and colocation provider EasyStreet Online Services of Beaverton offsets 100% of its electricity, natural gas and water usage, and has a zero-carbon footprint. The company uses cutting-edge green technology to implement sustainable IT. "We didn't have any of this when I was in college, that's for sure," Brown joked.

President and CEO Rich Bader said that media reports often show data centers as consuming tons of energy as more people and companies move to the cloud. "Only in Oregon have we found the culture, the village, to support sustainable data centers," Bader said. "We set the stage for other green data centers, and we're delighted that we've been able to pioneer that for the state."

Manufacturing Award: Oregon Iron Works

Clackamas Metal fabricator Oregon Iron Works' entire mission revolves around sustainable transportation. The company prides itself on creating local jobs and supporting local industries in procurement. 

Oregon Iron Works Vice President Chandra Brown said manufacturers have a bad reputation when it comes to the environment. "Manufacturing is coming forward in the green market, and we're going to continue that," Brown said. 

Grand Champions: Hopworks Urban Brewery and Mountain Rose Herbs

Two companies tied for the Grand Champion award this year. 

"Anyone who lives in Portland, likes beer and has kids has probably visited here more than once," Brown said, as conference attendees began whispering about Hopworks Urban Brewery. The company sources more than 50% of its ingredients from local or sustainable sources, including malt from Vancouver, Wash. 

HUB's sustainable mission is even visible on its new cans: "Do what you can."

"I want to thank mother nature for making fermentation possible," owner and brewmaster Christian Ettinger said when accepting the Grand Champion Award. Ettinger and Brown popped open cans of Lager while cheering to the triple bottom line.

The second Grand Champion award went to Mountain Rose Herbs. Since 1987, the Eugene company has focused on local and organic sources for its herbal products. Mountain Rose Herbs only contracts with USDA-certified farmers, and goes above Fair Trade with its "Good Trade" program. They allocate $100,000 yearly for charitable giving, and restore riparian ecosystems each year. Company vehicles use reclaimed biodiesel.

Director of Social and Environmental Responsibility Alyssa Lawless says that what works best for their company is to provide tangible incentives, such as cash incentives for employees that use bikes, public transportation or carpools. "How sustainability is viewed within our company continues to evolve, as it must," Lawless said.

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