Wyoming takes environmental stewardship seriously. We’re a Tree City, U.S.A. Last year, through a combination of residential, business, and city efforts, Wyoming recycled 40.22% of its waste, making it one of the top recycling cities in the area. Clearly, the environment is something Wyoming residents care about. Many of us also love to support businesses that care about sustainability—but since so many businesses and organizations do so quietly, as part of their everyday work, it’s hard to spot the standouts.

In May, upon recommendation from the Environmental Stewardship Commission, Wyoming City Council named the first annual, 2019 Green Business Award winners. Over the course of fall 2018 and winter 2019, and after reviewing similar nomination processes in other cities and through organizations such as B Corps, Wyoming’s Environmental Stewardship Commission developed a nomination form to capture what it believed would be some of the most common environmental decisions businesses in Wyoming might make. (The Environmental Stewardship Commission also left space to add measures not explicitly asked about on the form.) Using metrics including conservation of resources, review of additional environmental initiatives, and customer education, Environmental Stewardship Commission members evaluated each nomination. In the end, three local institutions rose to the top.

“Through our first annual 2019 Green Business Awards we have seen amazing passion and energy from our community. The positive impact our neighbors are making on the environment is very inspiring,” says Katie Stock, Wyoming Environmental Stewardship member. While it was eye-opening to learn more about efforts occurring throughout the business community, three businesses impressed the Commission with their detailed and careful programs. Wyoming-based graphic designer Becky Freund donated her services to create the Green Business Award logo, which residents will now see featured at the three award-winning businesses.

“Now Wyoming residents will be able easily spot the businesses and business owners who go above and beyond to reduce their carbon footprint and have established themselves as environmental leaders in our community,” explains City Councilmember Sarah Stankorb Taylor.

Announcing the 2019 Wyoming Green Business Awards

Down on Springfield Pike, 2019 Green Business Award winner Tēla Bar + Kitchen is a leader in the local food-sourcing revolution. Tēla recycles all recyclable material, has an in-house composting program, and the bar and restaurant also uses timers to make lighting efficient and uses ceiling fans to control airflow (and decrease HVAC usage). Tēla reduces water usage by 45% in its restrooms by using pressure flushers. But reducing food waste is central in the kitchen. There, Tēla’s chefs use most vegetable scraps in stocks and repurpose ingredients that are all sourced nearby and responsibly from local farmers and food artisans.

“We make a conscious effort each and every day to reduce our carbon footprint by sourcing our food from local, ethical producers through a longstanding partnership with Local Food Connection, a Cincinnati based business connecting local farms and food artisans with chefs and restauranteurs,” says L.R. Hunley, Tēla’s co-owner.

The nomination process helped uncover a great deal of unsung environmental success happening at businesses and organizations around Wyoming. Among the winners, though, certain efforts stood out. Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, one of this year’s three winners, saw major environmental changes thanks to the efforts of its congregational Green Team. In response to an energy audit, A&HT has reduced energy usage by 30% over the past 18 months and cut carbon emissions from 103 tons (in the year ending March 2017) to 90 tons (through February of this year). A&HT’s Green Team also helped drive installation of programmable thermostats, zoned heating and cooling, and, thanks to rebates from Ohio’s energy efficiency program, made the switch to high-efficiency boilers and replacing almost 150 fluorescent ceiling fixtures with LEDs.

“Our shrinking carbon footprint reflects years of work by a relay team of dedicated volunteers, starting with Fr. Eric Miller’s capital campaign. Campaign chair Carol Ostrander Gómez’s key decisions included Energy Star equipment and programmable thermostats,” says Ariel Miller, A&HT Green Team Chair. “Green Team volunteers count on the deep knowledge of our parish administrator Sarah Cotterill, who understands all our systems and relays the lore. We’re still analyzing our electricity use to find ways to reduce it.” Miller notes, for A&HT, environmental stewardship is an act of faith.

At the other end of the Pike, this year’s final Green Business Award winner, Wyoming Community Coffee is a hub of activity. WyCoCo recycles and composts all coffee grounds and biodegradable food scraps (producing 150 gallons of compost for local farmers and gardeners each month). Wyoming Community Coffee offers discounts to customers for using reusable mugs or steel straws, and offers biodegradable straws and snack packaging. What customers might not realize is that WyCoCo reduces water with a high-pressure “pitcher rinser;” uses efficient LED lighting, upgraded to large, energy-efficient windows; and has installed a high-efficiency HVAC system with NEST eco-mode thermostats.

“As an architect, it was second nature to use the renovation as an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of the building, and as an environmentally conscious team, it made sense to look for ways to divert waste through recycling and composting,” said Sara Aschliman, Wyoming Community Coffee owner. “It helps that these are economical choices as well. Everyone wins!”

In Wyoming, sustainable business models are a win-win for the entire community.