CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - With average monthly electric costs of $1,800, Kaan Ulkan, owner of Beanz Espresso Bar & Café, is looking for ways to conserve energy and save money.
“My electric consumption is huge,” said Ulkan, who was at City Hall on Tuesday to hear details of the City of Charlottetown’s official expansion of the Certified Sustainable Business Program in partnership with Efficiency P.E.I. and Island Waste Management Corporation.
Ulkan took over the Great George Street business in April. He explained that, in the summer, the electric bill reached $2,000 a month.
He recognizes that the cost of making the business energy efficient could be high but also that it would pay off in the end.
The certification program started about a year ago. It is voluntary for Charlottetown businesses that wish to participate.
Successful businesses that meet the requirements for certification will be recognized for their efforts in the community by the city and the province.
Jessica Brown, sustainability outreach co-ordinator with the city, explained that the certification process involves meeting with auditors who use a checklist of categories to see how the business is doing in areas such as water conservation, waste management, energy efficiency, general workplace environment and community engagement.
The program then offers training and advice in these areas to help businesses with sustainability.
Buns and Things Bakery was the first of three businesses to sign up for the program while it was still a pilot project.
“It’s always curious to see what you can do better,” said owner Bill DeBlois.
A few months before meeting with the program’s auditors, DeBlois said the business was already involved in initiatives to be more sustainable, such as moving away from Styrofoam trays in place of compostable trays.
The business also switched from a large van to a smaller one and had plans in place to replace the windows.
“We were trying to do different things . . . that might be more sustainable and more environmentally friendly,” he said. “We were certainly seeing an economic fallout from that as well – in a good way. So, obviously, sustainability and efficiency was something that we were going for.”
DeBlois met with the auditors in the winter.
“At the end, we were presented with a list of ‘this is what you’re doing well, this is what you’re doing pretty good and this is what you can do better,’” he said.
“We were able to work a few changes in and it worked out well.”
DeBlois also noted that it is important to be recognized in the community as a business that has sustainable practices and goals.
“It’s important and it’s getting more important. We noticed it just simply from the response we got when we switched from Styrofoam trays to compostable ones. We got a lot of attention. A lot of people were coming in and talking to us about it,” he said.
“It is certainly a conversation a lot more people are having now.”
The other businesses in the pilot project were Investco and Howatt’s Enviro Paints.