By Emma Hall
Above: Employees from the #1 Best Green Company, Redside. (L-R) Heather Lute, Danny McGinley, Melynda Retallack, Stacy Thompson, Gretchen Kristan, Dianne Clay, Brittany Marble, Caroline Petrich, Todd Hepp, Garrin Royer
Below: Coming in #10 on the list, Neil Kelly Company. President Tom Kelly and designer Suzie Atkin accepted the award at Wednesday's celebration.
In other states, being part of the 100 Best Green Companies would be a cakewalk. However, in Oregon it is harder to be ranked in the top 100, since it has become almost a requirement to be green if you want to do business in the state.
Oregon Business magazine Publisher Andrew Insinga welcomed a crowd of 300 to the Portland Downtown Hilton over lunch May 25. He described taking his pet chicken for a walk, explaining that anywhere else he may get weird looks, but not here. "[Having backyard chickens] is like Green 101 to this crowd," Insinga said.
Oregon Business' third annual 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon event celebrated the Oregon businesses that go above and beyond when it comes to environmental stewardship in the workplace. Rather than being picked by magazine staff or an outside agency, the 100 Best awards are unique in that the winners are picked by the companies' own employees and their satisfaction with those practices.
Winners were selected by more than 19,000 employees from the 415 companies and nonprofits that took part in two anonymous surveys that were part of the 100 Best Companies and 100 Best Nonprofits projects. The 100 Best Companies project is Oregon Business’ 18-year-old widely recognized leader in identifying and celebrating excellence in workplace practices in Oregon.
In the employee survey, workers from all sectors in the state, from landscapers to hotels, from schools to wineries, ranked their satisfaction with their companies green practices. The questions ranged from whether a company used a green or local supply chain to the extent of the recycling and water conservation a company exercised.
Oregon Business magazine Research Editor Brandon Sawyer gave a profile of the companies that made the list. 25% of the top 100 had been on the list all three years of the survey, he explained. "There seems to be a West Coast slant to this sustainability thing," Sawyer said.
Keynote speaker Dennis Wilde explained his work as Chief Sustainability Officer at Gerding Edlen Development since 1997, an Oregon company that was ahead of the curve when it came to sustainable building. Gerding Edlen uses LEED as a metric for rating their buildings, and has over 40 LEED certified buildings. Currently, the company is working on the much lauded Oregon Sustainability Center.
Wilde described how part of being green is implementing many little changes at the workplace that add up. Switch to reusable coffee mugs instead of heading down the street to Starbucks, or replace trash cans with recycling bins. He also explained that "phantom loads will doom you," referring to leaving cell phones and laptops plugged in unnecessarily.
After Wilde laid out some changes that can make a workplace greener, Oregon Business Editor Robin Doussard and Publisher Andrew Insinga handed out the Top 10 awards to companies that are already going beyond these little workplace changes. The Top 10 companies honored were:
- Redside, a construction and management company that sources materials and vendors locally.
- Standing Stone Brewing Co., which buys bicycles for employees to encourage alternate transportation.
- SERA Architects, which purchases 100% green power.
- Hummingbird Wholesale, which makes deliveries to Eugene-area stores by bicycle.
- Sokol Blosser Winery, which publishes an annual sustainability report and employs solar power generated on site.
- Kimpton Portland, which spent $30,000 on compact florescent bulbs.
- Rose City Mortgage, whic offers acupuncture at a reduced cost to employees.
- Research Into Action Inc., where desks are made of bamboo and cardboard.
- New Seasons Market, whose "Green Teams" at each store volunteer for the position because of their passion for environmentalism.
- Neil Kelly Company, which has used everything from biodiesel to Zipcars to low-flow toilets to make their company greener.
After the winners were announced and everyone went onstage to accept their bamboo and coconut shell trophies, attendees received Oregon Business' June issue featuring the full list of The 100 Best Green Companies.
Employees from Redside, the company that came from behind straight to #1 — it was their first year participating in the survey— gathered to take photos with their trophy. Their advice to other companies who want to go green? "Follow your heart, and the law of supply and demand will solve all the problems," said Redside partner Danny McGinley.
Emma Hall is web editor for Oregon Business magazine.