If greenies made a poster featuring the most sustainable, environmentally friendly business in town, they could do worse than picking Maria’s Bookshop.
“We must get 15 to 20 boxes a day, and we try to recycle everything,” said Evan Schertz co-owner of Maria’s Bookshop.
Besides the cardboard boxes, air bubbles and air pillow packing material are taken to the UPS office in Bodo Industrial Park for reuse, all LED-lighting is in use and employees are given incentives to use Durango Transit. Maria’s even has a Community Supported Agriculture share at the Old Fort to supply locally grown, organic produce for the bookshop’s special events and employee gatherings.
Last week, at the Secret Garden at the Rochester Hotel, the city of Durango held its Green Business Expo, bringing together a number of providers of sustainable and environmentally-friendly products to showcase their service and products for businesses looking to green their operations much like the practices that are second nature at Maria’s.
Greg Walton with Shaw Solar noted business assessments for conversion to solar electric systems are free.
Each system is unique to the electrical needs of a business, Walton said, but for a 1,500-square-foot office or retail space, he estimated a 30-panel system costing about $30,000 would be adequate.
A business converting to solar, he said, would be eligible for a 30% tax credit, accelerated depreciation on taxes, and could apply for grants to help pay for the system.
Based on existing incentives and grants, he estimated payback on a system would range from four to nine years for most businesses.
Eugene Salaz with WeFill, a Durango shop that aims to reduce single-use plastic containers by selling lotions, soaps, cleaning products and other items in bulk that can be refilled with empty bottles, said the shop was looking to attract more businesses to use its services, which have become increasingly popular among households.
“We have a number of Airbnb users instead of buying soft soap over and over again, they come to us. But it’s pretty hard to break into hotels and restaurants. Their relationship with Sysco is pretty lined up,” he said.
Since the shop opened in December 2018, Salaz said customers have been asked to put a hash mark on a grease board to denote a plastic bottle that was not purchased. So far, he said the shop has saved the purchase of 5,400 single-use plastic bottles.
“When you think about 5,400 plastic bottles, that’s a lot of space in a landfill,” he said.
Dominic May, energy management supervisor with La Plata Electric Association, noted it offers a 30% rebate on the cost of materials to convert to LED lighting. He anticipated the cost savings from conversion to LED lighting has a payback period of two years.
“I’m kind of amazed when I discover a business that hasn’t converted yet,” he said.
In addition, LPEA will do free walk-throughs of a business to look for areas of savings through energy efficiency.
Walk-throughs might point out efficiencies that can be gained through changes or more frequent maintenance of heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. A walk-through might also just as easily point to savings by changing a business’ rate plan to take advantage of Time-of-Use program that offers lower costs for electricity that is shifted from peak use hours on nonpeak hours.
“We just did an assessment for the Pagosa Springs hot springs, and found by just shifting to the Time-of-Use program, and not making any other changes, they could save more than $10,000 a year,” he said.