The 2nd Annual Green Natties was a hit! Thanks to our food and beverage providers, live music, silent auction, and fabulous volunteers, the event was a huge success that showcased the green business movement in New Orleans.
The main attraction of the evening, however, was the array of Green Games competitors. Each of these green certified businesses have showed a sincere dedication to positive social and environmental impact through their innovative initiatives. These companies are showing New Orleans how green is not a side project, but rather a profound business incentive that increases loyalty among consumers, employee satisfaction, social and environmental welfare, and economic gain through waste and energy saving strategies. These companies are in turn becoming business leaders.
Take a look at this year’s group of esteemed Green Games winners across six sectors:
Most Improved: Hey! Cafe
Hey! Café does the things that most green restaurants do. They buy local food, compost, have electric hand dryers to prevent paper towel waste, they buy in bulk, use compostable take out containers, and even bike to pick up new ingredients from the store. On top of all that, they have taken some creative steps to truly stand out in the community. For example, they had a local neighborhood contest to design artwork for their to-go containers. They even retrofitted a diesel van to run on salvaged veggie oil in partnership with their record company, Community Records! Hey! Café also supports Volunteers for America by providing significant discounts at the shop.
Best Overall: City Greens
City Greens stood out amongst our impressive group of restaurant participants in both the assessment as well as in their leadership role in the food community. From the start, co-owner Ben Kazenmaier has envisioned City Greens as a green business. He runs a near-by farm where he grows his own food to guarantee freshness. All the materials used are compostable or recyclable. He also works with his distributer to ensure the most efficient routes possible, and is a leader in connecting other restaurants to green providers like Eco Products. City Greens also plays an active role in LifeCity’s Green Restaurant Group.
Manufacturing / Distribution
Best Overall: NOLA Brewing
NOLA Brewing is a local favorite for many New Orleanians. Its story as an entrepreneurial venture reflects our story as a city – where each of us can take an idea and make it a reality. NOLA Brewing’s very production process reflects many sustainability principals, such as reusing heated water, and taking left over grain waste to local cattle farmers. Their facility has gone through the Energy Smart program to improve the energy efficiency of their lighting. Furthermore, their entire marketing budget is spent on donating product to local non-profits, including sustainability-minded organizations.
Most Improved: PosiGen
This new company has an incredible green mission that serves not just the environment, but has significant social impact by reducing energy consumption for families across the city. While facing rapid growth, opening new offices, and hiring new staff, PosiGen has instilled green values for every individual involved and has significantly increased their green practices as a part of the Green Games. They started recycling the large amounts of cardboard they were throwing away, which not only cut down their overall waste bill, but also removelandfill waste. They also switched to more efficient LED lighting. Furthermore, all staff members are encouraged to carpool, recycle, reuse mugs and turn off power strips daily.
Best Overall: NOLA Green Roots
When choosing a winner for this category, the selection committee looked for an active participant that was directly working with social and environmental impact in mind. NOLA Green Roots is responsible for making composting far more widespread in the community. They recently partnered with the convention center, Loyola University, and are moving into Jefferson Parish.
In the past two years, they have hired over 100 young people for their summer program, some of whom have been hired full time during the year. They have also developed a software program that allows members to see the financial savings associated from eating at local gardens by comparing to other retail prices. NOLA Green Roots can be found in neighborhoods all over the city, teaching people about local food while providing a composting and gardening service.
Most Improved: FutureProof
FutureProof is well known in New Orleans as a leading sustainability architecture firm and one of the first organizations in Louisiana to apply to become a B Corporation. Since Katrina, they have helped New Orleans schools, federal facilities, and businesses build in a more socially and environmentally responsible manner.
Most recently, as a part of the Green Games, FutureProof has turned their administrative office into a sustainable learning laboratory that showcases solar panels, an edible garden, and other green improvements. They also host tourists and local community groups in educational forums. They provide all staff with economic incentives to carpool, which saves the company resources as well. To top it all off, they even recycle glass, a rarity in New Orleans. FutureProof has shown such success here in New Orleans, they are expanding to other cities and continuing to spread their good work elsewhere!
Best Overall: CORE USA
The selection committee agreed that CORE USA in particular stood out amongst other businesses in their sector
by providing important environmental services in our community that extends well beyond the company. They are also truly committed to social impact. By leveraging federal, state, and local subsidies, CORE USA makes it possible for low-income individuals to access energy efficiency upgrades.
Furthermore, they help turn blue-collar jobs into green-collar jobs by training contractors in the region, thus building a sustainable marketplace in New Orleans. In the office, CORE USA uses no cartridges and instead uses solid ink technology, which is the most environmentally friendly ink available. These are just some of many commitments this company has made to being at the forefront of business leadership in the 21st Century.
Most Improved: New Orleans Food Co-Op
The New Orleans Food Co-Op is a uniquely responsible business here in New Orleans. As the only food cooperative in New Orleans, their commitment to the community is essential to their business model. They are devoted to hiring locally, they hold panel discussions on the Food Co-op’s impact on civil rights, host many community educational activities, and donated $20,000 of food during Hurricane Isaac. They are also strongly dedicated to their activities as a green business. They provide many local and organic food options, replaced display refrigeration with LED light stands, and they allow customers the option to reuse their shipping boxes as grocery bags.
Best Overall: ZukaBaby
As new mother’s look to provide for their babies, ZukaBaby helps families create a culture of sustainability in the home through conscious consumerism. For example, ZukaBaby plays an active role in teaching the community about cloth diapers. They also purchase carbon offsets of all goods, use soy based ink, and blog about sustainable issues for customers. As renters in their shop, they do everything they possibly can in lieu of energy efficiency. They are also looking to participate in the NOLA Wise program
Most Improved: Project Lazarus
Project Lazarus is fundamentally a socially minded organization. They provide housing and support to people living with HIV and AIDS. Not only are they looking to better the lives of New Orleanians, they are also demonstrating environmental responsibility in their operations. They use Energy Star equipment, replaced all incandescent bulbs with CFLS through the Green Light New Orleans Program, replaced halogen lamps with LED lamps, minimize fertilizers, compost, accept compost from their employees’ homes. They also utilize a rain cistern from EcoUrban and have gone through the NOLA Wise program. Furthermore, they have reduced their waste bill in half by increasing recycling through LifeCity’s recycling partnership. Project Lazarus was also chosen by Green Games attendees for the night’s People’s Choice Award. Congratulations and thank you, Project Lazarus!
Best Overall: Alliance for Affordable Energy
The Alliance for Affordable Energy has a long-standing history of commitment to social and environmental impact. They are certainly not afraid to be bold. As an organization, they are making an impact by providing affordable energy to New Orleanians. In their office, they use energy efficient equipment, recycled paper and provide maternity leave. They also coordinate the Green Collaborative and Voices of Solar to help unify and strengthen the green energy community.
“Putting the $Green$ in Green”: Joule Energy
“Putting the Green in Green” award acknowledges a company that effectively uses green initiatives in a way that also generates revenue for the organization. As you may know, solar companies are leveraging tax credits and other incentives to make solar possible for almost any consumer. Joule Energy does this not only through its services, but also in every aspect of the business.
They filter their water instead of having jugs of water regularly delivered. They reuse scrap metal and other components of solar panels in packaging. They give each employee a business cup so that they don’t have to buy disposable ware. They even give old electrical boxes and waste products created on the job to local artists in the community to repurpose. All of these initiatives save money while eliminating landfill waste. Beyond this profit-making strategy, Joule also makes decisions with social and environmental impact at the forefront. In fact, they were the first B Corps Certified company in Louisiana.
Innovation Award: Clear the Clutter
This award is given to the participant that has implemented innovative sustainable solutions for their business. Stasia Cymes of Clear the Clutter is a female entrepreneur who has moved to New Orleans to start her business. She is an organizer for individuals and businesses. After building her company for the past year, she is ready to start creating jobs in our community with her first hire.
What is innovative about her company is that she not only helps people get rid of what they don’t want, she also takes the time to recycle the left over waste. Anything that can be donated she takes to a local women’s shelter, Crescent House. She also signs each of her clients up with the city’s recycling program. Stasia is showing her clients how good it feels to get rid of waste and put it in the right place!
Partnership Award: Natco Food Services
LifeCity recently started a Green Restaurant Group that together allows all restaurant members to reduce green product cost by buying together in bulk. This is an exciting example of strategic partnership the LifeCity is building in our community. Natco Food Services is at the center of this endeavor.
Natco is a locally based company that is a distribution leader in Louisiana. They are helping make it possible for certified green restaurants to partner and collaborate. Natco is taking a risk by purchasing products in bulk at a price that is affordable for restaurants. Such an initiative is what has made them stand out in the pool of Green Games participants.
Equity Award: Liberty’s Kitchen
The Equity Award is given to the participant that has effectively addressed issues of cultural, social, or economic equity in our community through programs or initiatives focused on creating fair access to resources. Liberty’s Kitchen provides culinary job training for at risk youth that teaches them professional skills and invaluable life lessons. They also participate in a nutritious school lunch program at New Orleans College Prep Charter School. Liberty’s Kitchen’s fundamental mission is to provide opportunities and support to young people in our community. For their fervent pursuance of this mission, they are the esteemed winners of this year’s Equity Award.