Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday commended a newly formed group that aims to help Virginia-based businesses and nonprofits address climate change and prepare the economy for a clean energy future.
Northam spoke at the Community Climate Collaborative (C3) launch of the Green Business Alliance at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.
“We’ve had these climate commissions in Virginia and we listen to the data and we’ve said that we really need to get out there and take action and then we really never have. In the past few years, we have been able to work together and really understand what we’re up against as a society,” Northam said.
Each business has to commit to certain clean energy goals in order to be part of the alliance, said Susan Kruse, C3’s executive director.
“This whole process started about two years ago and we collected about two or three years of energy data for each business and then we gave them their carbon footprint analysis and worked with them to set a plan forward. The collective goal is a 45% reduction by 2025,” Kruse said.
She said some of the 16 businesses in the group have set a higher target, but at a minimum, each business is committed to at least reducing their carbon footprint by 30%.
“They all have to take significant action to reach their goals and they’re committed to annual membership by our team, and we’ll keep them on track and provide solutions for them along the way,” Kruse said.
All of the businesses in the alliance are considered small or mid-sized. Kruse said 99.5% of Virginia businesses have fewer than 500 employees. Green Business Alliance members collectively employ more than 2,300 people.
“The launch of the GBA demonstrates that small and medium-size businesses can embrace climate leadership and take action in support of local, state and national goals,” Kruse said.
“Virginia-based businesses are an essential part of our economy and our communities, and they will also be essential partners in reaching our climate goals. We need all hands on deck, and it is an honor to highlight these successful home-grown businesses who are working to ensure a sustainable future for all Virginians,” Northam said. “It really takes a village to get this done. And for all of you to be part of that village, I say thank you.”
Northam said that while he did not come to speak about politics, he wanted to encourage people to vote for candidates willing to make progress when it comes to climate change.
The businesses in the GBA are Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, CFA Institute, WillowTree, Sigora Solar, Apex Clean Energy, Tiger Fuel, Red Light Management, Hantzmon Wiebel LLP, SunTribe Solar, Quantitative Investment Management, Legal Aid Justice Center, CMA’s Colonial Nissan, CMA’s Volvo Cars of Charlottesville, Indoor Biotechnologies, The Center and Harvest Moon Catering. Representatives from each business received certificates of membership during the event.
“This is the decade where we must act to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change,” Kruse said. “Just as we celebrate the action taken by larger companies across the globe, we must also recognize and celebrate action taken by the businesses that are the very backbone of our communities and the commonwealth of Virginia.”