Tracy Press – by Denise Ellen Rizzo 12.01.11

A number of Tracy business officials gathered Thursday morning at the Tracy Transit Station to address their efforts to improve the environment through a variety of green programs.
“This is about helping businesses meet regulatory requirements, reduce their cost of doing business, and transform how they do that business and meeting the expectations of today’s consumer,” City Manager Leon Churchill said, regarding the participants at the Tracy Green Step Summit. “I’m ecstatic they can do it in Tracy.”

Churchill told the more than 15 Tracy business representatives gathered that the city’s sustainability efforts in green management have progressed the past two to three years. Sustainability is a balancing act of the environment, economy and social aspects, he said, but it’s nothing new in the effort to make things better for future generations.
The bottom line of sustainability, Churchill said, is to see a reduction in the cost of doing business. He said that during the past year, the city was able to save $350,000 to $400,000 of taxpayer money through “green” programs.

One of the primary organizers of the summit was Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The utility’s community energy manager, Theresa English-Soto, said businesses are the glue to the green movement. She said businesses working with PG&E in San Joaquin County the past three years have saved 452 kilowatts of energy, the equivalent of keeping 25,000 cars off the road for a year.

A number of locals discussed their particular efforts.

Safeway Facilities Engineering Manager Burnadette Thavarajah said her company’s efforts across Northern California, including more than 300 stores and distribution centers, have been extensive. They include the installation of efficient lighting, high-speed doors to prevent the loss of hot or cool air, and the installation of two large wind turbines outside Tracy to offset peak energy usage, as well as a zero waste program.
“It’s a practical way to make a difference in your community,” she said. “I think sustainability benefits everybody.”

According to Ghulam Feda, regional energy manager for Owens-Brockway Glass Container on the western edge of the city, his company creates glass using 100 percent recyclable material. He said they recycle 400 tons per day, and other businesses can save two to three percent of energy with a simple 10 percent recycling program.

Although Thursday’s summit involved a small number of local businesses, English-Soto said additional summits are being planned in the future.

© 2011