On October 28, Sustainable Business Long Beach (formerly known as the Green Business Council) and the Women’s Business Council are cohosting a panel discussion about the unexpected benefits of creating sustainable businesses. The event is part of the rebranded Sustainable Business Long Beach’s (SBLB) efforts to engage businesses with their peers, who will hopefully inspire each other to move towards sustainable practices.


“What we want to do through Sustainable Business Long Beach is to address a broader perspective of issues, where we’re looking at not only having a viable business community that is profitable and doing well but also one that is engaged in the community and one that is engaged in making the quality of the environment better,” Dr. Wade Martin, president of SBLB and director of the California State University, Long Beach Office of Economic Research, told the Business Journal.


“Part of businesses being engaged in the community means businesses learning what they’ve shared with each other,” Tom Bowman, president-elect of SBLB and president of Long beach-based small business Bowman Design Group, said.


“Business owners really like to hear what works from their peers because their peers live the same life,” Bowman said. “They’ve got the same challenges to overcome. So we’re structuring these events to bring panels of business owners who have accomplished something or are in the process of accomplishing something around the topic [of sustainability].”


The event at the Courtyard Long Beach Downtown features opening remarks by Mayor Robert Garcia, who recently signed the Compact of Mayors – a pledge signed by mayors around the world to make their cities more climate resilient.


“Mayor Garcia has signed the Compact of Mayors and has the stated goal of making Long Beach a climate-resilient city,” Martin said. “So we’re looking at it from the business sector, how can we contribute to Long Beach achieving that goal,” he said of SBLB.


Panelists at the breakfast event, which runs from 7:30-9:30 a.m., include: Spencer Brown, founder and “chief tree hugger” of Rent-A-Green Box; April Economides, president of Octopus Consulting; Terry Geiling, president and CEO of American Gold Star Manor; and Jay Penev, co-founder and chief fermentationist of Fine Feathers Kombucha.


Each of the panelists offer a different perspective on sustainability, including how they have made their own operations or facilities sustainable, as well as how they help other businesses in that effort, according to Bowman and Martin. “I’ll interview them as a panel discussion so that everybody in the audience is really hearing from their peers rather than getting a report from some of the city government agencies or some of the major institutions in town,” Bowman said. “This makes it more practical and relatable to businesses. And it also helps businesses begin to engage with each other more.”


Bowman has successfully transitioned his own small business into a more sustainable model, reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds. He consolidated equipment, swapped out the company car for a Prius, replaced light bulbs with energy efficient ones, changed his air conditioning unit, and plugged equipment into power strips that could be turned off at night.


These were relatively small fixes Bowman could make without spending a lot of money. As a small business, while he didn’t fall under many of the state’s environmental requirements, he also didn’t qualify for any incentives for things like solar panels or energy-efficient roofing, he explained. Bowman Design Group won the first-ever Cool California Small Business Award for its efforts and success. “It means any business can do this. They don’t have to be a green tech company,” he said.


Martin and Bowman said SBLB will have quarterly events with one large event, like the October 28 panel discussion, each year and perhaps mixers in between.


“Sustainable Business Long Beach is really reaching out to anybody who would like to participate, and that includes business owners and business employees, but also residents can attend these events,” Bowman said.


For more information about SBLB and the event, visit http://www.lbchamber.com /pages/SustainableBusinessLongBeachSBLB. October 28, 7:30-9:30 A.M., at Courtyard Marriott Downtown.