Here at The Alliance Center, we view sustainability as a holistic endeavor: a mission that necessitates the participation of both nonprofit and for-profit sectors. We are honored to collaborate with dozens of organizations in our Best for Colorado program who work in the environmental sector or are dedicated to evaluating and improving their environmental impact. We also run the Regenerative Recovery Coalition, which is in part dedicated to fostering regenerative and sustainable business practices across Colorado.

But how do you demonstrate your business’s commitment to sustainability? With few regulations on the labeling of sustainable business practices, and with rampant public misinformation about ethical consumption, many businesses either knowingly or unknowingly resort to a strategy called “greenwashing”. Greenwashing is a marketing tactic that deceives consumers with unsubstantiated claims or with misleading or false information about the environmentally friendly nature of a product or process. Greenwashing degrades consumer trust and can even result in further damage to the environment.

 Here are a few guidelines for avoiding greenwashing as a socially responsible business owner:

    • Avoid using buzz words or offering vague claims about your product or your business like “natural”, “green”, “environmentally friendly” or “sustainable”. Instead, be honest and specific about how your product or your process is sustainable—and even how it isn’t. For example, instead of stamping “eco-friendly” on your packaging and calling it a day, create a page on your website dedicated to explaining the materials, ingredients and/or sourcing of your product. Reveal the steps required to create your product and the areas of your process that could be improved. Honesty and transparency from a corporation can go a long way for an ethical consumer.
    • Don’t expect consumers to take you at your word. Instead, if possible, offer evidence from a reliable third party that your product is or does what you claim. Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, but there are other green business certifications available as well.
    • Avoid using irrelevant terms. Instead, only use specific terms that genuinely apply to your product and make sense for your audience. For example, there is no need to call your product organic if it does not make use of ingredients that are grown organically.
    • Don’t create fake labels or certifications. Trust that your honest explanations of your product or process will mean more to your consumers than unverifiable accolades.
    • Don’t only focus on advertising your consumer-facing products as green or sustainable. Instead, try to practice sustainability and social responsibility behind closed doors as well. This might manifest in multiple ways: implementing diversity and inclusivity trainings, giving back to your community through charitable donations or even networking and collaborating with other sustainability-minded businesses and organizations in The Alliance Center’s coworking space or as an Alliance Member.

Sustainable business practices and products have never been more important, more relevant or more sought out than they are today. For example, a recent survey conducted by GreenPrint found that nearly two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay more for sustainable products! Companies who successfully navigate the demand for environmentally friendly products will increase their resilience and improve their reputation. We are proud to partner with so many socially responsible businesses—and look forward to the day that all for-profit organizations are committed to “doing business better”!

Burgess Group | Compass is a Best for Colorado company and real estate group with 25 years experience selling high end and luxury properties in Colorado’s most sophisticated markets. Their services include building, rehab and professional real estate services.

Along their exceptional success record and marketing expertise, Burgess Group | Compass takes corporate social responsibility seriously, regularly donating to 14+ charities and launching a project to support Coloradans experiencing food insecurity.

We spoke with Founder Catherine Burgess about Burgess Group’s commitment to their clients, communities and doing business better.

Best for Colorado: Tell us more about your company in general. What do you do? What is your mission? What makes you different?

Catherine Burgess: Burgess Group | Compass has over 25 years of experience, including building, rehab and professional real estate services. We have an exceptional success record selling hundreds of properties in some of Colorado’s most sophisticated markets, including Boulder, Boulder County and Denver.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ As one of the top-ranking Boulder County real estate groups, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with concierge-level service, deep contract savvy and expert negotiating skills. Also, we are real estate data nerds! Every week, we analyze what happened last week in our local markets. We scrutinize national trends and interpret their impact on our local markets. Our clients (and the agent community) thank us regularly for our weekly videos and blogs that explain how to be successful in our local real estate market. We have always taken corporate social responsibility very seriously. Every year, we donate more than $150 for every property sold to 14+ charities, including Colorado Music Festival and Center for Music Arts, Impact on Education and Museum of Boulder. We recently launched the Food Security Project, too!

B4CO: How did your company first hear about Best for Colorado, and why did you decide to join?

CB: We first heard about Best for Colorado via a ColoradoBiz newsletter. We wanted to join the many highlighted businesses that create a wonderful state to do business. We also wanted to highlight our new project, The Food Security Project, to inspire people to take steps to fight food insecurity.

B4CO: What is a challenging aspect of your work?

CB: The perpetual challenge in this market is tight inventory. This topic is getting enormous national attention right now, but locally it has been a seller’s market since 2011 in most of the market, and occasionally since 2014 within the luxury market. Deeply understanding the markets and the contract, plus preparing clients to engage so that they can be competitive, is the secret sauce that helps us serve more than 100 clients yearly to sell or buy their piece of the Colorado dream.

B4CO: What is an achievement your company is proud of?

CB: In 2020 food security hit its lowest rate in 20 years, with over half a million Coloradans expected to experience food insecurity in 2021. We recently launched The Food Security Project, using our listing of the historic 80-acre McKenzie Farm in Boulder, to grow thousands of pounds of produce for Boulder and Broomfield counties. We provided a donation to nonprofit Community Food Share, a food bank serving Boulder and Broomfield counties. The donation supported Community Food Share in hiring a farmer, Katie Ketchum, to work the land that the charitable McKenzie family is donating. Community Food Share is also contributing financially to this project, as well as managing the farmer and distributing produce. Boulder-based public benefit corporation Boundless Landscapes, which advises on, builds and plants micro-farms, is sharing their valuable farm tools, while nonprofit Earth’s Table, an organization that works to eliminate hunger by maintaining seven garden sites, is mentoring Katie, our farmer.

We encourage people everywhere to do what they can to create food security by growing valuable fruits and veggies in their own pandemic victory gardens. Whether you grow a container garden, plant a small strip of land or turn your yard into a full micro-farm, you can donate your surplus produce to a local community food bank like Community Food Share. If gardening is not your bag, consider making a monetary donation to your local food bank and/or volunteer for organizations like Community Food Share and Earth’s Table.

A person crouches over rows of a vegetable garden, harvesting.

B4CO: Why would you recommend joining Best for Colorado to other companies?

CB: It can be hard to do publicity for your own company, and this is a great way to get the word out about your own business!

Logo for Burgess Group

Best for Colorado is a program of The Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support.

Capstone Investment Financial Group is a Best for Colorado company and investment firm focused on long-term, quality portfolios. Their services include retirement planning and wealth management.

Their goal is to help clients pursue their financial futures. Capstone Investment knows that everyone has different needs and priorities when it comes to financial planning. They strive to provide options for everyone, including those who seek to make a difference with their investments.

We spoke with Financial Advisor Lindsey Simek about Capstone Investment’s commitment to ethical investing and doing business better.

Best for Colorado: How long has your company been Best for Colorado?

Lindsey Simek: We were accepted as a Best for Colorado company just recently in 2021.

B4CO: Tell us more about your company in general. What do you do? What is your mission? What makes you different?

LS: We are an investment firm. We focus on quality, long-term types of investments and portfolios. As financial advisors, we are fiduciaries, meaning we put our clients needs above ours at all times. We are fee only and do not sell any type of financial products. We help clients plan for their future, retirement and long-term financial goals. At Capstone Investment Financial Group we provide portfolios that give our clients diversity and exposure to the market at their comfort level. We also offer portfolios that are environment, social and governance (EGS) based, allowing for impactful investing for those clients that want to make a difference. Here at Capstone we make it a priority to enable our clients, employees, partners and owners to pursue their financial future in order to achieve their dreams and follow their passions.

B4CO: How did your company first hear about Best for Colorado, and why did you decide to join?

LS: We were familiar with The Alliance Center and not only liked but respected what it had to offer. We feel that sustainability can be achieved in all sectors, so we wanted reach out to see what we, as an investment firm, could do. Once we reached out, we found Best for Colorado and the amazing opportunity to become a participating business. We feel this will allow us to demonstrate what we have to offer when it comes to sustainability and impactful investing.

B4CO: What is a challenging aspect of your work?

LS: The most challenging aspect of the investment business is people’s reluctance to work on their financial goals. All too often individuals put off planning and saving and then have unrealistic expectations.

B4CO: What is an achievement your company is proud of?

LS: Our firm ranked in the top 100 financial firms in Colorado. Factors such as ESG implementation, high retention and always putting clients first all have contributed to our company’s success.

B4CO: Why would you recommend joining Best for Colorado to other companies?

LS: I think being a Best for Colorado company has so many obvious benefits. By joining the group we have access to other companies and individuals that have the same concerns and want to achieve the same goals. We are able to see, meet and interact with others that are looking to better our cities, state and planet as whole and do it in so many different ways. By joining Best for Colorado we are able to work within a community that is all about making an impact, and we are able to experience the multiple ways—ways we never would have even considered—that this can be accomplished.

B4CO: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

LS: At Capstone we are very proud of the ESG platform that we have built. We have provided our clients with quality portfolios that focus on impactful investing. While this isn’t a concern for all of our clients, for many of them it is a top priority. As a company, are able to provide them peace of mind while building on their financial future.

Best for Colorado is a program of The Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support.

Kyoto Botanicals is a Best For Colorado company creating and providing premium quality, clean, all-natural CBD products. Their products range from gummies to body balm to dog treats.

Their goal is to create and deliver the highest quality CBD products possible. As a completely self-funded company Kyoto Botanicals is able to make independent and ethical decisions about every part of their products creation and sale.

We spoke with PR Manager Emily Tracy about Kyoto Botanicals’ commitment to high quality production and doing business better.

Best For Colorado: How long has your company been Best for Colorado?

Emily Tracy: We became a Best For Colorado Company in February 2020, so a little more than a year.

B4CO: Tell us more about your company in general. What do you do? What is your mission? What makes you different?

ET: Colorado-based Kyoto Botanicals provides handcrafted CBD products with premium full-spectrum hemp extract and organic botanical ingredients. Currently, Kyoto’s product line offers everything from tinctures, gummies, body oil, body balm and face serum, to dog treats.

The founders experienced firsthand the incredible power of the hemp plant and its associated phytocannabinoids in its ability to improve lives and restore hope to people and families that had little hope left. Their stories changed them forever, and they knew that their future would be dedicated to creating and delivering the highest quality CBD products possible.

Kyoto’s diverse co-founders include Mark Gillilan who previously worked as the director of marketing at Colorado’s Charlotte’s Web, the largest CBD company in the country and Ron Morrow, a Colorado entrepreneur who is a business leader in Longmont and a passionate advocate for hemp. Charlotte’s Web developed a high CBD, low THC strain of cannabis that helped many families find hope and quality of life they couldn’t elsewhere. Their story made global headlines as it was pivotal in the progressive THC and CBD legislation that we know today.

B4CO: How did your company first hear about Best for Colorado, and why did you decide to join?

ET: I was sent an email via ColoradoBiz! The CBD industry is so wildly competitive, as you can imagine, but not every CBD company operates under good principles. Kyoto Botanicals is able to create premium quality, clean, all-natural products without compromise.

B4CO: What is a challenging aspect of your work?

ET: We are completely funded by ourselves with no outside investors. However, we are proudly independent. With no outside investors or outside voices, we can provide the highest-quality CBD products. We don’t have to make compromises to make shareholders happy.

B4CO: What is an achievement your company is proud of?

ET: We are entirely based in Colorado with our grow, processing, bottling and distribution in facilities owned and run by us, so we keep all of our investment in our communities.

B4CO: Why would you recommend joining Best for Colorado to other companies?

Both ColoradoBiz and The Alliance Center are doing incredible things for the state. Many of our clients are in the agricultural space (Boulder County Farmers Market, ORIGIN Milk, etc.) – both of which benefit greatly from having COBiz and The Alliance Center in their corners!

 

Best for Colorado is a program of The Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support.

Interview with Chief Sustainability Officer, John Rosol, about Free Range Beehives’ commitment to sustainability and doing business better.

Free Range Beehives is a Best for Colorado Company working to increase the environmental health of the Front Range through a buzzing concept. This company installs beehives on building roofs and maintains them for their customers.

Their goal is to make buildings in Colorado greener and stand out amongst their competition, support the dwindling honey bee populations and nourish Colorado’s environment by providing additional pollinators.

Best for Colorado: How long has your company been Best for Colorado? 

John Rosol: Free Range Beehives has had the opportunity to be a part of The Alliance Center’s Best for Colorado program for the last three months.

B4CO: Tell us more about your company in general. What do you do? What is your mission? What makes you different? 

JR: Free Range Beehives is a corporate beekeeping company dedicated to the repopulation of honeybees across the Colorado Front Range. Environmentally aware corporate citizens hire us to install and maintain honeybee hives on business properties. This delivers environmental benefits from the increased pollinator population and increases the biodiversity of surrounding communities. Companies benefit in several ways, most importantly by helping the environment, but also by qualifying for credits in various green programs such as WELL, LEED, Fitwell and other organizations.

We find that most businesses want to help but are often limited to making donations to nonprofits. This is a noble act but can be impersonal and most companies will never see the product of their contribution. When a business purchases a beehive system from Free Range Beehives, they will not only receive extensive education and materials about the bees, but they will also be able to see and interact with them on a regular basis. We believe Free Range Beehives offers the most innovative, engaging and fun sustainability project in the Front Range area.

B4CO: How did your company first hear about Best for Colorado, and why did you decide to join? 

We were informed about Best for Colorado by the owner and founder of Summit Sustainable Goods, Carrie Martin-Haley, who I had the pleasure of working with at the nonprofit organization Institute for Environmental Solutions. Carrie’s explanation of the values and goals of Best for Colorado and their dedication to the environment, equity and good business practices aligned perfectly with what Free Range Beehives has set out to accomplish. We knew we had to be a part of the community that dedicated themselves to this mission.

B4CO: What is a challenging aspect of your work? 

JR: Helping our clients understand that honeybees are safe is an ongoing challenge for us. When many people think of bees, they think about the chance of getting stung. This is not a strange reaction, but it is unwarranted. The likelihood a person getting stung by a honeybee is infinitesimally low as the bees are too busy working towards the betterment of their colony to worry about outside interference. It has been found, statistically, that one is equally as likely to get stung by a bee with hives on their property as they would be if they had no hives on their property. Unless a bee is specifically threatened or attacked it will not sting. The Free Range Beehives beekeepers don’t even use gloves for this very reason. The insects that are known for stinging are hornets and wasps, which have a similar coloration but are far more aggressive.

B4CO: What is an achievement your company is proud of? 

JR: We have partnered with University of Colorado Denver and the Denver Urban Bee Project to perform research on the honey collected by our beehives in order to form a better understanding of their food sources. This will not only inform us of the overall health of the hives but also give us the best information on what pollinator plants should be spread across the Front Range, especially in metropolitan areas. We are already involved with the City of Denver’s Mayor’s Office to have beehives included in the voluntary Green Building Code. We hope to present projects increasing honeybee forage in the years ahead. Come spring we will also be partnering with Bee Informed’s Sentinel Project, which will supply the organization with critical data about honeybees in Colorado they may use to help the health of this species worldwide.

B4CO: Why would you recommend joining Best for Colorado to other companies?

JR: It opens up your company to a community of businesses and individuals equally dedicated to the betterment of Colorado’s social and environmental health. These are issues that require significant attention and effort to improve but are worth the commitment. Modern businesses recognize this and are putting the effort into make a difference, and Best for Colorado can help give direction and support for their efforts.

B4CO: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

JR: Beekeeping is a very localized practice, since the forage species and climate have a large effect on the bees. Free Range Beehives is a local Colorado family business. We hire locally and source all of our equipment and supplies from local beekeeping supply stores. Please contact david@freerangebeehives.com or check out www.freerangebeehives.com for more information or to get a quote!

Best for Colorado is a program of The Alliance Center. It allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey. Best for Colorado offers programming and tools for all Colorado companies, including B Corps, to improve their practices and connect participating companies with local resources, education and support.

 

This article was originally published in ColoradoBiz Magazine. Read the full article here.

Thawing food with the traditional running water method is a hidden water waste stream in food prep across the United States. Boss Defrost was invented to address this waste. Boss Defrost reduces average water use for thawing by 98.5%.

Their goal is to give food service operations everywhere the power to make a positive impact on the world by preserving fresh water, while reducing monthly water bills.

We spoke with Diana Lopez Starkus, partner & CO of Brand Development, about Boss Defrost’s commitment to rethinking how we defrost frozen food.

Best for Colorado: Tell us more about your company in general. What do you do? What is your mission? What makes you different? 

Diana Lopez Starkus: Boss Defrost is an NSF-certified kitchen appliance transforming the way kitchens thaw frozen food. Our mission is to improve on the decades-old industry practice of using running water to thaw food by reducing the amount of water needed for the task by 98.5 percent with net-positive financial and environmental results.

Boss Defrost is first-to-market.  This means that we’re addressing a water waste stream and environmental challenge no one has looked at before. Besides brand development and sales, data collection and education are a big part of our work.

When the pandemic made our primary market (restaurants) unreachable, we turned to secondary markets like grocery chains. It’s astonishing how much fresh water is going down the drain in your local meat & seafood department.

Boss Defrost is priced so everyone can implement this new standard at a low cost. Many restaurants save enough money on their water bill to pay for their Boss Defrost in three months.

During this spring and summer, we began looking for ways to encourage participation and defray initial costs. Subsequently, Boss Defrost is partnering with water utility companies like Efficiency Works and the City of Fort Collins to offer a custom business rebate for every Boss Defrost purchase in their service area. Even restaurants who only slack-in-the sink for five hours a week can qualify for a rebate, save money on their water bill, and conserve up to 60,000 gallons a year.

Ultimately, Boss Defrost is a water conservation company. If we had our wish, it would be to completely transform a wasteful industry practice into a sustainable one. One day, we hope that Boss Defrost becomes part of the Required Equipment List for every food service operation.  Fresh water is one of our most precious natural resources. Boss Defrost is a NOW solution to a NOW challenge.

BFCO: How did your company first hear about Best for Colorado, and why did you decide to join?

DLS: Boss Defrost learned about Best for Colorado through The Alliance Center, the Good Business Colorado Association and Resilient Restaurants. We joined to learn and share best practices that make Colorado a beautiful, sustainable and resilient place to live.

BFCO: What is a challenging aspect of your work? 

DLS: During the best of times, launching and growing a business is a huge endeavor.  With food service operations being our main customer base, the landscape changes every day.  Our challenge is keeping up with where the industry is going and answering that call.

BFCO: What is an achievement your company is proud of? 

DLS: Boss Defrost was quickly embraced by cooks and chefs and is now represented in 18 states — and growing — across the United States.

BFCO: Would you recommend joining Best for Colorado to other companies? 

DLS: Joining Best for Colorado connects companies with similar or complementary goals.  We believe there is strength in numbers!

As an eco-friendly online marketplace, EarthHero has done the work so you don’t have to.

EarthHero offers products that are sourced, manufactured, and shipped in a way that protects our planet’s future. Each brand they partnered with has been chosen because they’re taking the right steps and helping to create a more sustainable future.

Their goal is to make buying responsibly second-nature. They’re on a mission to make it normal to consume in a way that’s easier on the environment, while meeting the convenience we’ve come to expect.

We spoke with founder and CEO Ryan Lewis about EarthHero’s commitment to sustainability and doing business better.

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Best for Colorado: Tell us more about your company in general. What do you do? What is your mission? What makes you different? 

Ryan Lewis: EarthHero is a one-stop shop for everybody who loves the planet. We source thousands of the most sustainable products to make it easy to shop sustainably. We have everything from personal care, home goods, pet supplies, toys, apparel to office supplies, audio/tech and more. Our mission is to make sustainable shopping so easy, everyone does it!

BFCO: What is a challenging aspect of your work? 

RL: As a start up, we have an unrelenting amount of brands, products, and content that we would like to provide access to and deliver. However, we are also operating with relatively speaking, limited resources to achieve our goals. This has challenged, us as a team, to become very connected, communicative, and creative in order to accomplish our goals. I’m very proud of that.

BFCO: What is an achievement your company is proud of? 

RL: I’m proud of how much impact we’ve been able to achieve in just three short years. With over 6,000 intentionally sourced eco-products from almost 200 brands, we are accelerating the movement of living more sustainably by delivering ease of access, education, and a strong sense of community.

I’m also proud of our Prism Award for Social Impact Company of the year. Finally, I’m proud about how we operate with three core nonprofit partners. We are members of 1% for the Planet, B Corp and CarbonFund. This is another layer of accountability so as we continue to grow, the more good we do, the more money we donate, the more trees get planted.

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BFCO: With the holidays coming up, what are some things consumers can do to ensure their holiday shopping is more sustainable? 

RL: Yes, there are a few important things to consider. First of all, try to purchase gifts you feel the recipient will really use. There are many functional ways to gift. Many people enjoy the inspiration that comes with a gift that promotes sustainability. In many cases that might mean the materials or ingredients that are in the product. In some cases it may be nice to gift a product with a great story, one that also gives back in some way. Also, think about the end of life of the gift. Is it compostable, recyclable? Does it help eliminate waste in other ways, like avoidance of one-time use products?

I think it comes down to three things:

– How was the product made?

– How is the product disposed?

– Will the recipient really enjoy/use/need it?

BFCO: Would you recommend joining Best for Colorado to other companies? 

RL: We’ve been a Best for Colorado company for two years, and being surrounded by like-minded companies that are trying to use their organization as a force for good is amazing. It allows us to stay connected to a strong network, share stories and opportunities and learn from each other.

The holiday season is a time for giving. This year, consider giving support to our local Colorado businesses! Here are six Best for Colorado companies we’re highlighting because of their ongoing commitment to improving the environment and their surrounding communities.

JoyFill

JoyFill is an eco-minded refill shop located right here in Denver. If you’re wanting to give natural and sustainable household cleaners, soaps, personal care, beauty products and more this holiday season, look no further! JoyFill’s commitment to sustainability and waste reduction is a wonderful contribution to our community! Visit their website at www.joyfill.co.

Glow and Gather

Glow and Gather creates personal care products, home goods and spice blends designed to help people embrace their inner glow and gather friends and family to spread joy. A hand-crafted present from this local, family-owned business is certainly a gift from the heart! Visit their website at www.glowandgather.com.

éclipse Apparel

éclipse Apparel’s line of men’s and women’s tops, pants, sleeves, gloves, cover ups and accessories are ethically and sustainably manufactured in Colorado using the highest quality performance fabric. Give the gift of slow fashion this holiday season. Visit www.eclipseglove.com.

Phunkshun Wear

Phunkshun Wear is a Colorado manufacturer of sustainable outdoor gear who want you to “experience winter. Not the cold.” They offer various forms of face masks to keep you warm and also sell personal hygiene masks amongst the pandemic. Choose one of their designs or get a custom order by visiting www.phunkshunwear.com.

Simple Switch

Simple Switch makes purchasing holiday gifts from world-changing, impactful companies easy! Shop for products people will love and make an impact you can be proud of. Check it out at www.www.simpleswitch.org.

Upslope Brewing

Upslope Brewing is a craft brewery based in Boulder that specializes in hand-crafted, all-natural beers packaged in aluminum cans. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for the beer-lover in your life, you can’t go wrong with Upslope! Learn more about this company at www.upslopebrewing.com.

Pivot Energy was founded in 2009 to fight against the existential threat of global warming by expanding access to clean, solar energy. Based in Denver, their team is helping the country transition to a more sustainable, decentralized electric grid by working on hundreds of projects across the country.

They were awarded a Best for Colorado Commit to Action Award for their commitment to provide solar opportunities to low to moderate income (LMI) communities across Colorado. They are in the process of developing six megawatts of solar for Xcel Energy that will be subscribed by 100 percent LMI families.This annual award honors inspirational Best for Colorado companies that are driving transformational change in regards to the wellbeing and resilience of our communities, environment and society.

We spoke with Hannah Erwin, Internal Operations Associate, to learn more about Pivot Energy’s efforts to raise the bar in the solar industry.

Best for Colorado: Can you tell us about your community solar initiative?

Pivot Energy: Compared to residential and onsite commercial solar, community solar is a large-scale renewable energy solution built offsite, connected to the utility’s electrical grid and virtually sectioned off for utility customers, including businesses, nonprofit entities and/or residential users. In 2012, the Colorado state legislature mandated that 5 percent of community solar garden capacity be reserved for low to moderate income (LMI) subscribers to promote the expansion of solar in Colorado.

In 2018, the EPA published a report stating that those living below the poverty line have a 35 percent higher burden from particulate matter emissions than the overall population. In this context, the 5 percent community solar LMI carveout seemed inadequate in addressing inequity. Pivot Energy believes in expanding solar access for all, which is why we’ve assumed responsibility for exceeding government mandates. Currently, Pivot’s solar gardens are made up of roughly 25 percent LMI subscribers. In addition, we’re developing 6 MW of solar for Xcel Energy that will be subscribed by 100 percent LMI families.

BFCO: What challenges have you faced in expanding solar access for LMI communities? 

PE: We’ve learned a lot about the challenges that LMI families and individuals face through our work. LMI subscribers, which are disproportionately renters rather than homeowners, are deemed ineligible for many community solar subscriptions that require long subscription term lengths. Pivot Energy has worked with financiers to make LMI subscribers a more significant proportion of subscriptions than the law set out to achieve. The 6 MW project with Xcel Energy we’re developing is a great example of a successful developer and utility partnership. Language barriers have also been a roadblock to success between potential customers and our services. This is one of the reasons why Pivot sought out a partnership with Energy Outreach Colorado who can help us integrate our community solar product within the communities they serve.

While Pivot and others have been pushing the industry on LMI access to community solar, the market is now moving more and more towards a full industry response and more innovative solutions. Using Pivot projects and others as a baseline, entities like the City of Denver are now soliciting Request for Proposals with stipulations for high LMI engagement and subscription, using some of their purchasing power to make access more available.

This article originally ran in ColoradoBiz Magazine. To read the full article, click here.

At the 2020 Best for Colorado Awards Ceremony, Secretary of State, Jena Griswold opened by reflecting on the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented in these last several months. Amid her recognition of these great challenges, she affirmed the following:

“Coloradans are not only resilient by nature, we’re committed to pulling our communities up with us. Nowhere is this more evident than in our business community. Our business community is dedicated to doing well by doing good, which will serve Colorado as we emerge from the current crises into a new frontier where businesses are the drivers of a new prosperity.”

Best for Colorado awarded eight companies this year for their commitment to creating this hopeful vision of prosperity that Jena Griswold spoke of–a kind of prosperity that goes beyond just material profit and takes into consideration the wellbeing of our earth and of our communities.

The Change Makers Awards recognized the highest overall scoring companies: Namasté Solar, an employee owned and local Colorado B-corp, and BSW Wealth Partners, an independent financial management firm. Pote Law Firm had the highest score in the Community section of the BIA, Organic India had the highest score in the Environment Section, and DOJO4 had the highest score in the Workers Section.

These companies represent a significant shift towards a new way of doing business and are 2020 Measure What Matters Honorees because of their commitment to continually improving their practices and redefining what success looks like.

The Alliance Center is leading the way toward a regenerative recovery for Colorado. If you’re a business, nonprofit, government group or individual who wants to be part of the solution, visit www.thealliancecenter.org/coalition to learn more.

Best for Colorado is a program of The Alliance Center. This program allows Colorado companies to measure and improve their social and environmental impact, regardless of where they are on their corporate social responsibility journey.

This article was originally published in ColoradoBiz Magazine. To read the full article, click here.