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2015 Green 20 Companies

Colorado companies carving out paths to sustainability


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Airius

Longmont / (Product) / theairpear.com

In 2004, Airius CEO Ray Avedon had a problem at his plastic injection molding company: The 30-foot ceilings in the manufacturing area meant the warm air would rise to the ceilings and employees on the floor level would be cold – no matter what the thermostat said. So he came up with a solution and a centerpiece for his business. The Air Pear destratification fan increases heating and cooling efficiency and reduces energy bills by solving the problem of “thermal stratification,” the layering of air in buildings. Stratification is a proven factor for energy loss in buildings and inefficiency in HVAC systems. Airius fans destratify, or equalize, a building’s temperature by moving air in a vertical column from ceiling to floor and recirculating it until there is no more than a 3 degree difference in temperature, leading to operational savings of up to 35 percent or more.

Nick Sterling of Natural Capitalism Solutions talks about how his organization works with communities, government and companies to implement genuine sustainability.

aWhere Inc.

Broomfield / (Product) / awhere.com

Certified B Corporation aWhere delivers agricultural intelligence right into the hands of commercial growers and policymakers around the world. This decision-making data can be generated for a single field and aggregated across areas to inform national policy or corporate objectives. The company captures more than a billion points of data every day to create unprecedented visibility and insight anywhere on the planet, from California’s Central Valley to small farms in Ghana. The company has virtualized most of its servers and has begun using hot aisle containment, which reduces cooling power consumption by as much as 30 percent.

Brown Palace Hotel

Denver / (Practice) / brownpalace.com

The Brown Palace redesigned its in-room amenity line in summer 2013 featuring organic essence, BPA-free plastics and paraben-free amenities. The new line is infused with honey from the hotel’s own beehives, which live on the hotel’s roof and pollinate the downtown Denver area. This project also included biodegradable shoe and laundry bags and 100 percent recycled content in the cardboard packaging for its shower caps and shoe shine. The hotel also maintains a sustainable purchasing policy.

Cool Planet

Greenwood Village / (Product) / coolplanet.com

Cool Planet transforms renewable biomass into environmentally friendly hydrocarbon fuels like gasoline into organic biocarbon products, starting with its CoolTerra™ soil amendment. Its green fuels are chemically identical to fossil fuels, and the CoolTerra™ soil amendment sequesters carbon, increases crop productivity and promotes more robust plant health while reducing fertilizer and water requirements. For farmers and growers in the Western U.S. and elsewhere, the commercially available amendment gives them the ability to maintain or improve their crop yield, even in drought conditions with less water and fertilizer.

DaVita

Denver / (Practice) / davita.com / *Green Colorado Company - Year 2

In 2010, DaVita established a set of 2015 environmental goals, integrating principles of sustainability and pursuing innovative processes, while lessening the environmental impact of its operations. Starting this year, all its new construction and remodeled clinics will include LED lights in addition to environmentally preferable equipment such as solar shades, light shelves, daylight systems, energy efficient HVAC systems, floor and ceiling finishes and more. Teammates at its world headquarters in Denver are offered an RTD EcoPass, which provides free transportation through the bus and light rail system. The company is working to reduce energy consumption by 15 percent per treatment, reduce water consumption by 10 percent per treatment, and reduce office paper consumption by 20 percent per treatment.

 

Lynette Myers of the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program talks about how the state seeks out companies that are going above and beyond in the realm of sustainability.

Door to Door Organics

Lafayette / (Product/Practice) / doortodoororganics.com

Door to Door Organics purchases produce based on customers’ weekly orders, thereby eliminating the need to store fruits and veggies, an effort that closes the gap between field and fork, resulting in fresher produce. The company buys from 75 local farmers and vendors directly and through efficient distribution channels. Its fleet of vans and drivers deliver groceries in 100 percent recyclable boxes. Using cutting-edge technology, its logistics team determines the most fuel- and time-efficient delivery routes. Vans are packed with an average of 65 orders, thereby reducing the number of vehicles on the road. Each week, the company reduces waste by donating produce to two local nonprofits: Food for Thought and Sister Carmen Community Center.

Energy Logic

Berthoud / (Product) / nrglogic.com

As a leading provider of home energy efficiency products and services in Colorado and nationwide, EnergyLogic has verified more than 10,000 ENERGY STAR homes throughout the state and has had a hand in verifying more than 21,000 across the U.S. since 2006. EnergyLogic has saved the annual greenhouse gas or CO2 emissions associated with about 10,350 vehicles, 122.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 62.6 million pounds of coal and 17,110 acres of trees. This represents a total utility cost savings of $9.4 million and has improved more than 20,000 new homes in Colorado alone. On a national level, the company is one of the few LEED Green Rater trainers in the nation, and also provides a wide offering of continuing education classes through the EnergyLogic Academy.

 

First Affirmative Financial Network

Colorado Springs / (Practice) / firstaffirmative.com

First Affirmative specializes in SRI — Sustainable, Responsible, Impact investing. It is known as an industry pioneer and specialist in designing and managing diversified investment portfolios for responsible investors. In addition to producing The SRI Conference — the premier annual event for the SRI industry in North America for the past 25 years — management speaks widely and serves as industry ambassadors at many other conferences and events focused on directing the flow of investment capital to catalyze a shift toward a truly sustainable future.

The GrowHaus

Denver / (Product) / thegrowhaus.org

The GrowHaus, a nonprofit indoor farm, marketplace and educational center in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, is creating a community-driven food system by serving as a hub for food distribution, education and production. The Hydroponics Farm — a state-of-the-art, 5,000-square-foot commercial farm that grows leafy greens for distribution throughout Denver — produces an average yield of 1,200 heads of leafy greens per week, using 90 percent less water than conventional farming. Growasis, its education and demonstration farm, incorporates a number of techniques drawn from the principles and practices of permaculture design, including a self-regulating “edible ecosystem” of tropical plants such as figs, bananas and papayas, compost piles, worm composting system, rabbits and chickens, and incubation space for neighborhood residents starting their own small businesses around food production.

Icebox Knitting

Longmont / (Product) / iceboxknitting.com

In 2007, Icebox Knitting launched an upcycled hat and accessory line called Xob, which sorts, cleans, cuts and sews existing wool sweaters from the thrift industry into one-of-a-kind accessories. These diversion practices have saved tens of thousands of pounds of wool from being wasted and have reduced the need for virgin material. A Certified B Corp., Icebox Knitting uses wind energy to supply its lighting.

Infinite Harvest

Lakewood / (Product) /infinite-harvest.com

Infinite Harvest, an agricultural engineering and sustainable crop production company, launched in 2014 to reduce the environmental impact of farming while providing a viable and sustainable method to produce large volumes of year-round crops. Unlike traditional farming, Infinite Harvest doesn’t use any pesticides, herbicides or heavy fertilizers, thereby conserving energy while eliminating introduced food toxins and contamination of local watersheds. The company also has custom-designed several pieces of proprietary technology, each of which is compatible with renewable energy systems. Its LED lighting system gives plants the specific light wavelengths and intensity that encourage growth in a highly efficient manner. More than 75 percent of the water used in Infinite Harvest’s facility is recaptured and recirculated, saving significantly more water than open-field farming.

 

Molson Coors

Denver / (Practice) /molsoncoors.com

Molson Coors maintains a strong commitment to improving its social and environmental footprint – its “Beer Print.” The company’s 2020 Sustainability Strategy integrates energy management, GHG emissions, water and solid waste to achieve its target of zero waste to landfill. The company has partnered with Water for People to build a fresh-water well near its brewery in Bihar, India, which serves 500 families, and the Coors team built a new toilet and hand washing facility at the local school to improve attendance, particularly for young girls. In the UK, Molson Coors has invested £6.3 million (about $9.6 million in U.S. dollars) in new packaging. Carling is now packaged in 100 percent recyclable film instead of cardboard. The company hosts Beer Print Month, which focuses on water stewardship, community and commercial engagement

PowerMundo

Denver / (Product) / powermundo.com

PowerMundo delivers life-changing technology to low-income, rural communities, working with affordable, easy-to-use products that help families break the poverty cycle and care for the environment. Currently, 100 percent of the products in PowerMundo’s clean-tech distribution model work with solar energy. PowerMundo implements innovative projects to distribute, market and finance the lamps and communication devices that use small solar panels, long-lasting batteries and LED technology. Through its sales over the past three years, PowerMundo has replaced more than 2.3 million liters of diesel fuel with solar-powered lamps and avoided more than 9.4 million kilograms of CO2 emissions while providing clean lighting for rural Peruvian families.

Rachio Corp.

Denver / (Product) / rach.io

Since its launch during a Startup Weekend event in late 2013, Rachio has designed and manufactured Web-connected sprinkler controllers focused on saving water through efficient, intelligent water management. The Iro is the first in a product line of water saving devices focused on conservation, ease of management and water intelligence. Through its use of clever weather intelligence combined with its advanced algorithms for evapotranspiration, it prevents sprinklers from running in the rain and determines proper watering for specific soil types, among other specifics. Data collected from its installed units found its users have saved 15 million gallons of water per thousand units installed. The company conservatively estimates a savings of 300 million gallons for 2015.

 

Repurposed Materials

Henderson / (Product) / repurposedmaterialsinc.com

In 2014, Repurposed Materials helped other companies divert more than 2 million pounds of waste from landfills by finding the “highest and best” use for byproducts and waste. The team helped MillerCoors in Golden find a second home for 30,000 pounds of expired cane sugar by connecting them with a Colorado Springs beekeeper who used it to make sugar water to feed his bees. They found a home for a Western Slope coal mine’s semi load of eight-foot tires with ranchers, who converted them into water tanks for their cattle.

Serendipity Catering

Denver / (Practice) / serendipityfood.com

Since 2011, Serendipity has met and exceeded the Certifiably Green Denver parameters. Owner Laura Zaspel, who has a master’s degree in environmental policy and management, has created a sustainable events department with a special projects chef to ensure eco-friendly menu goals are met. Serendipity diverts 95 percent of all kitchen food waste from conventional landfills. Where possible, Serendipity composts 95 percent of event food waste and offers haul-out services to clients. Serendipity participates in the EPA’s Food Waste Challenge, documenting food donations and food sent to commercial composting.

 

Simple Energy

Boulder / (Product/Practice) / simpleenergy.com

Using behavioral science, big data analytics and digital marketing techniques, Simple Energy’s Software as a Service (SaaS) customer engagement program transforms energy consumption data into digital experiences that inspire people to take action by making saving energy social and simple. In February 2015, Simple Energy launched Marketplace, an ecommerce platform that connects utilities and consumers by offering energy-saving household products and services with instant rebates. The platform already reaches more than 2.5 million utility customers in California and Colorado.

TERSUS Solutions

Littleton / (Product) / tersussolutions.com

TERSUS Solutions strives to reduce the water and energy required to maintain technical textiles such as outdoor apparel, fire turnout gear and military gear. The equipment used in TERSUS Solutions reduces the energy consumption in commercial/industrial laundry by eliminating the need for dryers, water heaters, boilers and wastewater treatment infrastructure. The net impact of switching from water-based textile cleaning and processing to the TERSUS Solution reduces water consumption by up to 96 percent and energy consumption by 60 percent (on average).

 

Trane

Pueblo / (Practice) / trane.com

In 2014, Trane Pueblo completed an energy project that converted its plant lighting from florescent T-8 technology to GE LED lighting fixtures, replacing 1,000 fluorescent lights with LED and saving Trane more than 38,000 KW-Hr per month and nearly $500,000 a year in energy expenses. Trane Pueblo has been recycling for 25 years; the company currently recycles more than 80 percent of solid wastes that otherwise would end up in landfill. Since 2002, Trane has eliminated solvent-based paints for water-borne paints and eliminated hazardous wastes associated with its painting operations, changing its status to a Small Quantity Generator and winning state recognition.

Zeppelin Development

Denver / (Practice) / zeppelinplaces.com

Zeppelin Development designs, builds and operates commercial and residential projects in Denver’s urban core. By focusing on dense infill projects at brownfield sites, its projects strive to achieve the highest level of sustainability in the built environment. Its projects are noteworthy for their material reuse and energy efficiency, and also for the reuse of industrial buildings that others may choose to raze. Several Zeppelin Development projects have achieved LEED certification. Also, several Zeppelin Development projects have/are enrolled in the state’s Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Program, an environmental remediation program.

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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