EcoStar acknowledges Island’s greenest businesses

The Island’s top green and environmentally friendly businesses were honoured Nov. 10 at the 2016 EcoStar Awards at the Laurel Point Inn.

A full house of 135 got a glimpse into the steps Island businesses are taking to improve their environmental performance and reduce their carbon footprint.

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“The biggest part of the night and what really stands out about the event is it brings out those stories of local businesses who are working to make a difference within their own businesses and we get to learn a lot about what the winners have done to make changes and what impact that has,” said Jill Doucette, chief executive of Synergy Enterprises, whose non-profit arm — the Synergy Sustainability Institute — organizes the awards.

There were 17 winners. Doucette said Victoria’s Finest at Sea Seafood stood out as an example of what many companies discover when they turn their hand to improving environmental performance.

“That company found that by tackling these sustainability issues there was some real cost-saving advantages too,” she said. “FAS took the microscope to its operation and found lots of little tweaks within the operation that made a huge impact — by the end of the day they cut more than half of their water use. “So it’s good for the planet and good for their bottom line. Those kinds of stories are really exciting.”

Duncan’s Blue Roots Farm, started by Daniel Adelman and Courtney Edwards in 2015, was named eco-entrepreneur of the year for its farming methods.

Part of the running of the farm is raising steelhead trout and circulating nutrient rich water over plant roots. The roots take in the nutrients and grow greens and herbs in vertical towers.

The closed-loop ecosystem uses 98 per cent less water than traditional agriculture and more productive .

Sidney’s AXYS Technologies, which won the marine industry award, works on finding solutions for renewable energy projects and in so doing plays a role in making clean energy accessible and affordable for more people.

The company has taken steps to further reduce its own environmental impact, by installing motion-sensing lights in all bathrooms, making all company events zero-waste and serving local food only, improving recycling sorting stations and removing individual trash cans from employees' desks to encourage waste diversion.

Doucette said most of the companies that won awards don’t take on environmental projects with the idea of luring new customers, but it can happen. “They do find the consumer is changing and is really receptive to learning more about what businesses are doing behind the scenes to be more responsible,” she said.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

2016 Eco Star Award Winners

Greenest Office: Monk Office

Greenest Retail Store: Inspire Hair Design

Small Restaurant 1-25 Employees: Habit Coffee

Large Restaurant 25+ Employees: Big Wheel Burger, Gateway Village

Manufacturing Excellence: Studio Robazzo

The Eco-Preneur of the Year: Blue Roots Farm

Technology Excellence: Carmanah Technologies

Experiential Tourism: Eagle Wing Tours

Lodging & Accomodations: Parkside Hotel

Leadership In Construction: Bernhardt Contracting

Water Conservation & Stewardship: Finest at Sea Seafood Producers

Marine Industry: AXYS Technologies

Food Security: Haliburton Farm

Climate Action: Orca Spirit Adventures

Social Impact: Pacific Rim College

Waste Management: Big Wheel Burger

Community Environmental Leadership: Inn at Laurel Point

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