As Arizona endures its first major monsoon season in three years—a season that includes power outages, downed electric lines and increased energy bills—the state's largest electric utility, Arizona Public Service, is in the middle of rolling out its new Going Green and Going Smart program, a free virtual training portal that helps small business owners implement sustainable business practices that save energy.
The statewide initiative aims to help small businesses control costs in the pandemic economic environment by increasing energy efficiency through pre-recorded sessions with sustainability consultants, as well as a certificate program for business energy sustainability. APS worked with the Compass CBS Foundation to design the program's content, which also includes lessons available for download, video presentations and subject-matter experts. Compass creates educational programs for small businesses.
"For the businesses that have survived the pandemic, we want to train small businesses to come back cleaner and greener to make them stronger," Edgar Olivio, economic development and program manager for Compass, said. "For those businesses still open, they need to install sustainable features as the best way to operate."
Reducing both carbon footprint and costs are the end goals of the APS program, as energy costs tend to fluctuate dramatically across Arizona. The program also seeks to help small businesses rebound from the economic effects of the pandemic by providing a green-marketing plan, where energy efficiency can increase profit margins.
The green-marketing plan includes zero-waste planning, building investment and efficiency resources, as well as upgrades available to buildings.
"We teach small business owners how to prepare for summer," Olivio said. "We cover everything from energy efficiency to water conservation to zero waste with a holistic approach."
With a new focus on energy across the state of Arizona, the long-term effects of the APS program will be measured against an environment with rising temperatures. Phoenix had more than 50 days of over-110-degree high temperatures in the summer of 2020.
The state has one of the highest non-native-born populations in the United States, with the population including a heavy influx of Californians, Midwesterners and East Coast transplants. These demographics are prime targets for being inefficient with energy use, and APS hopes the Going Green and Going Smart program can become a one-stop shop for both new and longtime business owners who are still unfamiliar with how to handle the Arizona summer, Olivio said.
"The business owners will learn that smart energy devices are their best friend," Olivio said. "Smart plugs, motion sensors, smart thermostats and especially Arizona's greatest resource, natural lighting, all are resources that have economic and environmental benefits for small business owners. We are offering on-demand resources for a demanding problem."