Sarasota County Green Business Partnership Program

SARASOTA COUNTY GREEN BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM: DEVELOPING METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION AND ACHIEVING MEASURABLE RESULTS

  1. Penn, UF/IFAS Extension, Sarasota County, Sarasota, FL

Situation: The state of Florida set a target for counties to achieve a 75% recycling rate by 2020.  Sarasota County is working to achieve these rates through increased recycling efforts and education programs.  To assist businesses, Sarasota County launched a pilot program in 2006 called the Sarasota County Green Business Partnership Program (GBP).  The concept was to create a program for the purpose of educating businesses to improve overall efficiency and effectiveness with environmental practices.  The program focused on: business operations and creating green teams, implementing waste reduction and creating recycling programs that encourage participation, water conservation and energy reducing measures.  Businesses that completed the educational training process have been recognized by Sarasota County as a Green Business Partners.

In 2016, the UF IFAS Sarasota created a new waste reduction agent position to continue to grow and strengthen the Sarasota County GBP.  The new agent is tasked with educating businesses on environmental practices, assessing the program value and achieving measurable results that can be used to determine areas of opportunity for future program development.

Results: Using a sample of 38 business applications: 87% of applications have implemented methods to discuss environmental measures at staff meetings; 72% encourage employees to suggest new conservation ideas; 97% have created a recycling program that encourages participation; and 62.5% are using LED, compact fluorescent or low-voltage track lighting. 

Conclusion: A major challenge of the program is transitioning from a County program focused on participation and recognition of the business partners to a program led by UF IFAS that focuses on education and measurable results.  Based on the responses of surveyed business, there has been a positive response on implementing environmental programs.  In order to achieve the target rate by 2020, the agent must evaluate historical data and develop effective methods of data collection to assess program value.

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