Four area businesses and three non-profits were honored for their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints while also reducing operating costs at the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber’s ninth annual Green Business Breakfast, May 19 at the Boston Marriott Newton.
Top honors went to TripAdvisor in recognition of the construction of its environmentally-friendly 282,000-square footworld headquarters in the N2 Innovation Corridor in Needham and to Powerhouse Dynamics, a Newton-based company which helps businesses reduce energy costs food waste through a proprietary monitoring system.
Also recognized were Johnny’s Luncheonette, Needham Bank, Mark’s Northeastern Furniture Foundation and two houses of worship, the Eliot Church of Newton and the First Unitarian Society in Newton.
Maryrose Sylvester, president and CEO of Current powered by GE, responsible for GE’s LED, solar, energy storage and electric vehicle businesses, was the featured guest.
Sylvester began her GE career in 1987 as an intern and is now part of the executive team that is moving to Boston as part of the company’s decision to relocate its corporate headquarters here.
She spoke about the company’s evolution and commitment to innovation and partnering with entrepreneurs. Sylvester also revealed that she has recently purchased a home in Newton and is in the process of moving here with her husband and three daughters.
Sylvester was joined onstage by Matt Noyes, chief meteorologist at NECN, who served as the morning’s emcee.
Also speaking was Jason Schrieber, a principal with Nelson-Nygaard Consulting Associates, a specialist in understanding how cities’ transportation infrastructure affects their economic prosperity, environmental impact, and income distribution.
“We were thrilled to have both Sylvester and Schrieber on the program because together they represent the opportunities our region faces as we embrace the innovation economy but also our infrastructure and transportation challenges,” said Chamber President Greg Reibman.
Reibman also praised the Chamber’s Environment Committee for engaging in a months-long effort to select the event’s award winners, based on an open nomination process, application review and site visits.
“Our judges take this process very seriously,” Reibman said.
The first honoree was Karen Masterson, owner of Johnny’s Luncheonette, who was recipient of a Green Initiative Award for incorporating a series of sustainable initiatives to the popular Newton Centre restaurant.
Noyes praised Johnny’s Eco Thermal water system, which routs fresh water through the waste heat stream above its grill, which preheats water before entering a hot water tank to about 120-130 degrees F instead of 60 degrees - saving energy and carbon emissions. He also noted that the restaurant recycles old crayons so they can be melted down and turned into new crayons and locally sources much of the beef, fish, beer, produce and other items.
“The best part of it all is that Johnny’s did all of this while actually increasing sales,” Noyes said. “Obviously, customers are finding the changes to their taste.”
Needham Bank was also presented with a Green Initiative Award for thoughtful construction of the iconic headquarters on Garden Street in downtown Needham. From the high efficacy HVAC system concealed inside a sloped roof to renewable bamboo paneling, low-flow toilets and faucets, to water bottle filling stations, green practices were seamlessly incorporated into the design, judges said.
“The bank's leadership had some ambitious goals,” judges wrote. “They wanted a facility that worked well for the employees and departments …and an energy-efficient building providing operational cost savings, all on a budget, one that was as carefully monitored as would be expected for a community bank with a reputation for strong financial management.”
The final Green Initiative Award went to Mark’s Northeastern Furniture Foundation, a non-for profit started by Needham resident Mark Silverman, president and CEO of Marks Moving & Storage Inc.
The foundation collects discarded and donated furniture from its customers and then distributes it to charitable institutions. Over five years, more than 2,700 pieces– or about 150 tons of furniture - have been donated, enough to cover the field at Gillette Stadium nearly a foot deep!
The judges praised Silverman for helping to raise awareness of the problem of furniture disposal, while being a role model for more environmentally beneficial solutions.
Andy Savitz director of sustainability for the City of Newton presented special recognition awards to The Eliot Church at Newton Corner and the First Unitarian Society in West Newton “taking on the challenge of improving their buildings’ carbon footprint with measurable success and also incorporating the sustainability into their missions.”
“Many religious organizations have been at the forefront of the green movement. But when it comes to practicing what they preach, well that’s often easier said than done,” Savitz said. “By their very nature houses of worship, especially older buildings like many here in New England, are difficult to operate efficiently.”
Accepting for the Eliot Church was Associate Pastor Reverend Reebee Kavich Girash and accepting for First Unitarian Society in Newton was Bob Persons.
Next up on the program was Scott Lennon, president of the Newton City Council who presented the 2016 Newton Green Business of the Year Award to Powerhouse Dynamics.
Located on Bridge Street in the heart of the Charles River Mill District, Powerhouse helps small commercial businesses identify and eliminate wasteful electric, gas and water consumption through a cloud-based product called SiteSage, The system is used in thousands of restaurants, convenience stores, and other small commercial facilities across North and Central America -- including Arby’s, Burger King, Not Your Average Joes – and helps businesses reduce food waste and improve food safety by constantly monitoring cooling and cooking temperatures and timing.
Lennon said the chamber judges also praised Powerhouse for extending its commitment to sustainability to its own business practices. “The chamber’s judges were impressed not just by the quality of Powerhouse Systems but the 25-employee company’s own green culture. They encourage, reward, and practice sustainable measures.”
Powerhouse Dynamics CEO Martin Flusberg accepted the award.
Pictured left to right are Greg Reibman, president of the Newton-Needham Chamber, Scott Lennon, Newton City Council president, Powerhouse Dynamics’ Helen Fairman, director of marketing and Martin Flushing, president and CEO, and Peter Smith, chair of the Chamber’s environment committee.
The final award of the morning, the 2016 Needham Business of the Year award, was presented to TripAdvisor by Needham Selectman Moe Handel.
Handel praised the company for its gorgeous building with amenities to meet their employees every whim, including fitness center with free exercise classes, a game room with videogames to indoor and outdoor fireplaces, brightly-colored Adirondack chairs and free meals.
But in designing and constructing its headquarters, TripAdvisor also made a substantial investment and commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability, Handel said, and that’s why they were being honored.
From the use of recycled metal and locally sourced, environmentally-sound building materials to water saving measures both outdoor and inside, the judges admired the thoughtfulness that went into seemingly every decision. They also praised the company’s use of free shuttle buses to provide a viable option to driving and for providing bikes on campus to employees for running local errands.
“TripAdvisor’s commitment to the sustainability raises the bar for every company and developer. In recognition of the company’s outstanding effort, I’d pleased to present them with the 2016 Needham Green Business of the Year,” Handel said.
Beth Grous, Chief People Officer, at TripAdvisor accepted the award on behalf of the company and representative from the project’s architect and building team.
From left are Chamber President Greg Reibman, Needham Selectman Moe Handel, Senior Director of Global Real Estate Kurt Ochalla and Chief People Officer Beth Grous, both of TripAdvisor, and Chamber Environment Committee Chair Peter Smith.
The 9th annual Green Business Breakfast was presented by Eastern Bank. Additional support was provided by Mount Ida College, The Village Bank, World Energy Efficiency Services, Mark’s Northeastern Furniture Foundation, Lasell College and Eversource.
“Everyone can agree that saving natural resources and minimizing our impact on the environment is a good thing,” said Tom Dunn, Director of Facilities & General Services at Eastern Bank. “I think we can also agree that if it saves our companies money that’s an added benefit.”