Business / Economy

15 San Benito County businesses seek green certification

Specialists say advantages include lower utility costs, healthier staff and new customers.
Mike Fisher of Fisher's Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Celina Stotler.
Ramona Hill of Credo Studios. Photo courtesy of Celina Stotler.
San Benito Arts Council. Photo courtesy of Celina Stotler.

San Benito businesses willing to take the steps to go green can earn green business certification from the county government. Most business owners who are pursuing certification are doing it to improve the environment and to be a good example for others, including children.

Green certification is awarded to businesses that make substantial changes to become more environmentally friendly. Guidelines for such changes have been set by San Benito County Integrated Waste Management.

Celina Stotler, green business specialist with Integrated Waste Management, said that apart from the environmental benefits of going green, companies also benefit from “lower costs for utilities, increase in customers, free promotion [in the] state and national Green Business Directory, less exposure to toxic chemicals and healthier personnel.”

She said while it may cost money to go green, that money is returned in lower energy and water bills, and even potentially more customers.

Local businesses wishing to obtain green business certification must follow Integrated Waste Management’s elective and core criteria, which include the use of Energy Star-certified appliances, low-flow toilets and LED lighting. Each business receives a checklist that applies to their type of operation. While there are some criteria that apply to all businesses, other requirements are specific to facilities like office spaces and restaurants.

Three San Benito County businesses have received their green business certification with Integrated Waste Management:

  1. Fisher’s Restaurant
  2. Jayleaf
  3. Suprema Produce

Mike Fisher, owner of Fisher’s Restaurant in downtown Hollister, told BenitoLink it was not hard for his business to get certification.

“We were pretty much already there,” he said.

The Hollister chef with international training buys organic local produce that the restaurant washes using only water. One challenge the restaurant faces is their to-go packaging. Fisher said that while green packaging is now cheaper because of demand, some food “needs styrofoam because of water content.” He also believes environmentally friendly food is healthier and does not foresee a large increase in clientele because his customers were aware of its health benefits before certification.

Stotler shared a list of San Benito County businesses and organizations in the process of obtaining green business certification:

Amanda Chiado, director of arts education with the San Benito Arts Council, said the council is seeking certification because it is the “right thing to do.” The council has made several changes, such as installing low-flow toilets, to both its ARTspace building and the Annex on Fifth Street in Hollister.

Chiado said getting certified was important to do “for the sake of the environment and to teach the children about taking care of the planet.”

Ramona Hill, owner of Credo Studio in San Juan Bautista, also said she believes going green is a good lesson to pass on to children, and that she considers upgrades to her building, such as more environmentally friendly lighting and low flow toilets, to be an investment.

The San Benito County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Jan. 23 mixer at Jardines de San Juan to promote the green business certification program. Local business leaders like Fisher and Hill, as well as Marcus Edwards from Jardines, Ed DeGroot from Saint Francis Retreat and Frank Escobar from Jayleaf and Suprema, spoke about why they decided to go for certification.

“It was really encouraging to hear local green business leaders speak about how easy it is to change a few practices within their business that make them more sustainable and save them money,” said interim chamber CEO Michelle Leonard. “It’s really powerful to see them taking ownership of their ability to limit water usage, waste and pollution, to ensure that our community has a sustainable future.”

For information on how to certify as a green business, contact San Benito County Integrated Waste Management at (831) 245-6996.


Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.