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Bremerton non-profit seeks to showcase green businesses

Silverdale artist Lisa Stirrett ran a “green” business before it was fashionable.

She uses “every itsy bitsy piece of glass” she has for her glass sculptures and buys recycled metals from Navy City Metals in Gorst for her metal artwork. For her, limiting waste is a practicality.

“We’re usually starving artists so we try to use as much of our product as we can,” she said.

But she’s also conscious of the way her art studio affects the environment. That’s why she’s working with the fledgling Clean Technology Trade Alliance, based in Bremerton, to help publicize her environmentally friendly business practices.

The non-profit, located on Wheaton Way and founded about a year ago, is developing a database where customers throughout the world can find information online about how environmentally responsible businesses are, including companies in energy-efficient construction and artists who use recycled materials, like Stirrett. The database, set to launch next year, is meant to make green businesses more mainstream and encourage innovation of environmentally conscious technology.

Already, the group has rated almost 1,000 businesses throughout the U.S. since its start last year. They include Watson Furniture in Poulsbo and Leader Manufacturing in Port Orchard, furniture manufacturers that use recycled materials.

The Clean Technology Trade Alliance sees itself as helping the environment by allowing the public to learn more about small to medium businesses with clean practices — to “allow anyone around the world to find a clean technology solution,” Executive Director Mark Frost said.

“Clean technology is where we’re going to have to go,” Frost said. “Resources are going to go away. You have to come up with other solutions.”

Customers want to find responsible businesses, but don’t know how due to a lack of public information on most businesses’ practices, Frost said.

The Clean Technology Trade Alliance looks at a number of criteria to determine its rating for each business, including its social and environmental costs.

“Ninety percent don’t measure these things,” Frost said. “That’s changing because it has to.”

The idea is that if a group of businesses in a given industry offer competitive prices, the “cleanest” businesses will win out with customers and others will improve, Frost added.

Stirrett hopes the database will help her find new customers who will be interested in buying her art.

“We’re hoping to reach as many people as we can get through the door,” she said.

One obstacle the green industry must combat is the perception that green businesses are more expensive - but that’s changing, Frost said. For example, immediate costs of building an energy-efficient home may be more expensive, but reduced heating and cooling costs during the next 10 years will result in net savings to the homeowner.

Green businesses are also among the few these days that are actually growing, including the Clean Technology Trade Alliance, Frost said. Once it secures more corporate investment, it will hire customer service representatives, sales people, accountants and IT staffers and open a larger office in Kent early next year. The alliance’s headquarters will remain in Bremerton.

To Frost, the success of his non-profit and the businesses he helps will help people realize clean practices make good business sense.

“A sustainable business is a profitable business,” he said.

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