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Bay Area companies offer green incentives

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
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Bay Area companies are offering green incentives for employees.

No matter what Kermit the Frog said - some Bay Area companies are making it easy to be green. More and more companies are offering financial incentives to employees to live more environmentally conscious lives. And some of these incentives go as high as $10,000 dollars per employee.

Dylan Seguin rides his bike to work most days - as he has since he started working at Clif Energy Bars in Berkeley five years ago. Making the ride a bit easier, the company recently started offering up to $500 dollars to employees to buy or retrofit a commuter bike, as part of its 'Cool Commute Program.'

"I always tried to work in a spot where I can ride my bike to work each day and ride it back, but then to come to a company, where they develop a program around that - it counts for a lot and means a lot to me," said Dylan Seguin, Clif Energy Bar employee.

The "Cool Commute Program' now also offers employees up to $1,000 dollars per year to make energy saving home improvements. Cassie Cyphers is a member of Clif Bar's sustainability team.

"So if an employee wants to change out a few bad windows that are squeaky and air is coming through, or if they want switch out an appliance - get an Energy Star washer, dryer or refrigerator or things like that," said Cassie Cyphers, Clif Bar sustainability team.

Clif Bar already offers $5,000 dollars to workers who buy a hybrid, or who switch to bio-diesel fuel. Add it all up - the company has spent about $100,000 dollars to this point.

"Employees are happier when they come to work. They are getting out of their cars, they are not driving they are getting exercise. They are happy, they can come in have showers, they can go to the gym, exercise - do things like that," said Cassie Cyphers.

Professor John Stayton directs the green MBA program at Dominican College in San Rafael -where the curriculum includes ecological sustainability and social justice.

"Companies, if they want to retain the best and brightest, need to demonstrate that they are serious about improving environmental performance. What better way to demonstrate this to their employees then by offering those employees incentives to reduce their environmental footprints," said Prof. John Stayton, Dominican college MBA program.

Google also offers $5,000 dollars towards the purchase of a hybrid; Integrated Archive Systems offers $10,000; Apple, the Albany YMCA, Alonzo Printing, dozens and dozens of companies big and small are on board. You've even got companies sharing sustainability information - Like Clif Bar does with Patagonia Clothing. One out of three Clif Bar employees is participating.

"We actually had a guy who had a Range Rover and he bought a biodiesel car and now makes his own biodiesel too, there you go," said Cassie Cyphers.

Professor Stayton predicts continued growth for green MBA programs because he says the stakes are just too high not to have more business people educated with the environment in mind.

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