The City of Boulder is known for making environmental protection a top priority, with its official mandate to become a zero-waste community, where at least 85 percent of what might otherwise be thrown away is reused, recycled or composted.
Many aspects of eco-friendliness is addressed in our city, including reducing pollution and road congestion by encouraging people to commute by bike instead of car. Events such as the annual Walk and Bike Month every June have obviously made an impact, with Boulder recently having been awarded a platinum rating (tied with just three other communities out of 291, spread over 48 states) from the League of American Bicyclists.
Environmental friendliness and community focus have been two important values for Independent Motors since we first opened the doors to our auto repair shop. Not only are we the first business in Boulder to have signed up for wind power, but we also offer loaner bikes when your car is in the shop, an eco-conscious alternative to our free loaner car and shuttle programs.
In that same spirit, we’ve compiled a list of 20 Boulder businesses that we think deserve recognition for their green efforts.
Arch11, Twitter: @arch11inc
Called one of Colorado’s “most progressive sustainable design firms” by realtor Jennifer Egbert, Arch11 has been winning awards for its energy-efficient plans and innovative designs since its inception in 1993. Just one example of the unique approach used by Arch11 designers can be seen with the Park Pavilions, a current project with its unusual roof profiles allowing light into the structures as well as creating passive rain water collection points.
University Bicycles, Twitter: @ubikes
This local bicycle shop opened in 1985 by Doug, an avid cyclist, and is still run today by a team of cyclists who take pride in having a friendly, knowledgeable sales staff and an expert service department. University Bicycles is an integral part of the Boulder community and supports many local causes.
The very lifestyle Doug espouses is green. He says on his site: “You give me a world problem, and my answer is the bicycle. Air pollution, childhood obesity, congestion…my solution is always the bicycle.”
Doerr Architecture, Twitter: @DoerrArchitect
A full-service Boulder design firm, Doerr is committed to providing passive solar designs and net-zero energy homes that are not just eco-friendly, but affordable and sustainable. Green building practices are offered regardless of the project, including historic renovation and urban infill development.
Amadeus Consulting, Twitter: @AmadeusTech
This Boulder-based custom software application development company has a credo, and that is to win. A win happens when they deliver innovative technology solutions as well as when they do what they say, with principles upheld and when the win is all-inclusive.
This can-do attitude led Amadeus Consulting to created BLAST!, a network of businesses seeking to implement zero-waste practices within their work environments. It’s their belief that if every company in the country followed the BLAST! Community’s action plans, 90% of landfill waste could be diverted.
fuentesdesign, Twitter: @fuentesdesign
Colorado native Brian Fuentes defines himself as a “passive house straw bale solar architect,” and he has had projects featured on the National Passive House Conference tour as well the Denver and Boulder Solar Home Tours. You can see a sample of sustainable style in the fuentesdesign RENEW project, highlighted in a recent Houzz article by Natasha Saroca called 14 Bathroom Design Ideas Expected to Be Big in 2015 (look for entry no. 10, Sustainable Style).
Parrish Construction, Twitter: @ParrishBuilt
For more than 40 years, this Boulder-based construction company has been helping homeowners remodel or build new home projects, sourcing locally whenever possible and designing with an eye to a smaller footprint. The general contractors, remodelers and custom cabinetmakers that make up Parrish Construction have been recycling building products for at least 20 years, and as supporters of the ReSource yard they practice deconstruction rather than demolition.
Sopher Sparn Architects, Twitter: @SparnArch
This freshly merged company — comprised of two notable Boulder architecture firms, Stephen Sparn Architects and Sopher Architects — plans to continue providing a fresh approach to design based on the principles of place, connection, climate, materials, sustainability and lifestyle. In a press release announcing the merger, principal Adrian Sopher says he and Stephen Sparn “share similar yet complementary areas of expertise and culture, as well as a vision of how architects can and should engage in their community.”
Typical of the kind of innovative thinking at SSA is Lauren Quiram’s blog post about the benefits of floating homes, citing the devastating 2013 Boulder flood that “took several lives and destroyed many homes.” She says that considering design ideas like floating homes in problem areas such as Boulder Creek “that anticipate and aim to adapt to flooding can only help Boulder’s future growth.”
WORKSHOP8, Twitter: @W8boulder
More than a green and sustainable architecture and design firm, the vision of WORKSHOP8 is no less than to create exciting design solutions that inspire, enrich and transform lives. Taking every aspect of design into consideration — including interior design, urban planning, public art and graphic design — each project is approached with consideration for its practicality and price as well as its beauty.
A Spice of Life, Twitter: @ASpiceofLife
This full-service catering and events company has been providing food and service to the Boulder area since its establishment in 1987, growing over the years from three to more than 130 employees. Expert chefs and trained event specialists as well as a professional service staff make each event, whether corporate or social, a memorable and successful experience.
Adopting the zero-waste program in conjunction with Eco-Cycle in 2005, A Spice of Life not only composts and recycles but also offers cups and plates made from sugar and corn that can be composted. The results are amazing: A Spice of Life is able to divert more than 217,660 pounds of materials in just two years.
Hotel Boulderado, Twitter: @HotelBoulderado
A downtown Boulder landmark since its doors opened more than a century ago, the Hotel Boulderado (so named to ensure guests would never forget where it was they stayed) is an EPA Waste Wise Partner and a Partner for a Clean Environment.
The hotel takes small, green-friendly steps such as having housekeeping repurpose old linens as rags or using natural enzymes to clean drains. It also undertakes larger endeavors such as using a water recovery system to clean outdoor patios and recycling furniture, mattresses and other amenities by donating them to local charities.
Boulder Beer Company, Twitter: @BoulderBeerCo
Colorado’s first microbrewery isn’t just a pub with tours. It’s also a PACE (Partners for a Cleaner Environment) certified business, taking eco-friendly steps such as using solar thermal panels to heat hot water, recycling kitchen fryer oil for biodiesel, and composting food waste.
Even in its brewing and production capacity, Boulder Beer is green: Approximately 130 tons of its spent grain get reused as feed supplements by local farmers every month, and leftover yeast is used for pig feed. From recovering heated water to insulating fermentation tanks, the craft brewery recycles, reuses and reduces.
In keeping with its earth-friendly management, Boulder Beer employees get Eco Passes so they can opt to ride city and regional buses for free. And as many staff members also commute by bike, the company was one of the first business in Boulder to adopt a portion of a city bike path, keeping it clean and safe.
The Tea Spot, Twitter: @TeaSpot
Founded by cancer survivor Maria Uspenski in 2004, The Tea Spot is a woman-owned and woman-operated business, and its premium loose tea blends are microblended in Boulder. Offering eco-friendly teaware, which is lead- and BPA-free, as well as a recyclable infuser (instead of tea bags or paper filters), The Tea Spot donates 10 percent of its sales in-kind to cancer and community wellness programs.
Western Disposal, Twitter: @westerndisposal
Western Disposal, a locally owned and managed trash collection and recycling business, has been Boulder’s waste hauling, composting and recycling resource for more than 40 years. With an ultimate goal of zero waste, Western Disposal practices what it preaches by investing in natural gas-powered trucks and wind power in order to reduce pollution and energy consumption; the company also uses of non-toxic cleaning materials in its operations.
BeadforLife, Twitter: @BeadforLife
This nonprofit organization and member of the Fair Trade Federation creates sustainable opportunities for Ugandan women to work their way out of extreme poverty. BeadforLife’s entire product line is green,” consisting of recycled paper beads that are handcrafted by women in Uganda into necklaces and bracelets for sale. BeadforLife began in Uganda in 2004, has its North American office in Boulder, and reinvests 100% of its net assets into its poverty programs.
When people who want to help fight extreme poverty set up a BeadforLife marketplace, either online or in person, they showcase and sell the handcrafted products, with all the proceeds going to BeadforLife. As an example of how the funds might be used, $630 will buy a family an ox and plow, effectively multiplying their farming income by a factor of seven.
Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Twitter: @rudisorganic
For more than 35 years, Rudi’s has been offering nutritious and preservative-free breads, rolls and buns, but it wasn’t until 1991 that the company started using organic ingredients.
Today, Rudi’s Organic Bakery is the leading producer of certified organic bread nationwide. Committed to healthy people and a healthy environment, Rudi’s specializes in the production and distribution of organic baked goods products free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Pedal To Properties, Twitter: @pedaltoproperty
The stated philosophy of the Boulder real estate company Pedal to Properties is “to connect with active, healthy and eco-conscious home buyers and sellers, who like us, want to ‘think outside the car’ through our optional cruiser bike tour services.”
Committed to the environment, Pedal to Properties encourages homebuyers to explore new neighborhoods by bike, seeing details not possible from a car. The company extends its green vision by offering their bikes to local hotels so Boulder tourists can tour by bike, which also helps reduce local traffic. In addition to incorporating recycling practices at their own office, Pedal to Properties builds and maintains “relationships with a variety of local ‘green-focused’ vendors, such as solar panel installers to architects, to support consumers.”
Print Experts, Twitter: @MyPrintExperts
You may have known them as CopyExperts, which was the name of this print services business for some 18 years. With the recent acquisition of A&R Printing and the added print and mail solutions they now offer, their new name is Print Experts.
The company is still a locally-owned digital print shop (just down the street from us, in fact), and they’re still “sustainable to the core.” In fact, Print Experts follows green practices that include:
• 100% energy consumption offset with Renewable Choice Energy;
• delivery vehicle carbon emissions offset with Colorado Carbon Fund;
• 90% waste diversion;
• tree replanting efforts with Trees For the Future, which offsets paper usage;
• and an extensive selection of high quality, recycled papers.
Momentum, Twitter: @fairtradewinds
In downtown Boulder, this family-run certified fair trade retailer carries hand-crafted and sustainable products, supporting artisans, farmers and craftspeople from around the world. Now part of the Fair Trade Winds family, even the shop is green — with a 100% bamboo floor, reclaimed lumber and recycled insulation made from old cotton clothes.
Leanin’ Tree, Facebook: Leanin’ Tree
Home of “America’s Favorite Greeting Cards,” Leanin’ Tree is a family-owned business founded in 1949 by Ed Trumble. As stated in their behind the scenes video, the company is very proud of the fact that all its cards are created, produced and shipped from their Boulder facility. They are of the opinion that keeping the jobs at home is a way to maintain high quality standards and also to support area schools, fire and police departments, libraries, and local communities.
Leanin’ Tree uses recycled paper from mills that adhere to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and soy inks. In addition to a comprehensive corporate recycling program and investing in resource conservation (with an underground irrigation system, for example), the electricity used in the Leanin’ Tree Museum and Sculpture Garden of Western Art is purchased from the local utility’s wind source program.
Eco-Products, Twitter: @ecoproducts
When your company’s name is Eco-Products, and your slogan is “Green is all we do,” and you call yourself “green geeks,” you’d better be eco-friendly. And Eco-Products — a food service supplier headquartered in Boulder and providing compostable, recycled and sustainable disposables nationwide — really is.
Their position is that “waste is a waste of resources,” and their mission is to lead the movement for zero-waste communities. To that end, they offer eco-friendly disposables made from recycled and plant-based materials. In other words: green alternatives to traditional disposables.