Sustainable business awards include controversial picks listen10/10/08 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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The annual Global Earth Charter Community Summit and Earth Scouts Festival will be held tomorrow at the University of Tampa. As a prelude, today the university hosted the First Annual Earth Charter Sustainable Business Awards Ceremony to recognize local businesses committed to social, economic and environmental responsibility.
The Earth Charter Summit is based on a document that, according to its website, promotes a sustainable world through â€œHuman Rights, Elimination of Poverty, Promotion of a Culture of Peace and a Respect for Nature.â€
Even the awards handed out at this ceremony were sustainable, according to Guy King, the chair of the Sustainable Business Awards.
Consultant Eric Maltzer is with Esty Environmental Partners, which produced the book, Green to Gold, about how businesses can profit from sustainability.
â€œThereâ€™s profit to be made from making a difference.â€
Some of the companies that won the 2008 Sustainable Business Award are the Tampa Bay Rays for their efforts in promoting carpooling and purchasing carbon offsets; Carastro & Associates, for installing solar panels; and Sirata Beach Resort, for establishing energy saving systems.
Jan Roberts said Earth Charter had nothing to do with the process of selecting which companies would receive the sustainable business awards. That was left to a team University of Tampa graduate business students. They said 38 companies were nominated and 16 were chosen to receive awards.
Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena praised the Tampa Bay area companies that are taking steps to celebrate the Earth. But she criticized two of the award recipients.
â€œTampa Electric Company and Mosaic have had years of environmental bloopers,â€ Saul-Sena said, and suggested that they are trying to clean up their less than distinguished records. She criticized TECOâ€™s proposed 31 percent rate increase that will be heard before the stateâ€™s Public Service Commission in Tampa on Oct. 21.
The PSCâ€™s Renewable Portfolio Standard sets a timeline by which utilities must produce a certain percentage of their energy through renewable sources. But the timeline proposed by the PSC is less ambitious even than the one called for last summer by Gov. Charlie Crist.
WMNF asked TECO Energy Spokesperson Laura Duda whether her company supports the PSCâ€™s proposed renewable energy standards, but she would not commit. Duda did say that TECO is responsible â€œto the environment, to its employees, to the community,â€ and that includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The phosphate mining company Mosaic was recognized for a program that turns waste heat into electricity and for its partnerships with Audubon of Florida.
David Townsend is the assistant vice president for public affairs with Mosaic and said that his company takes environmental responsibility â€œvery seriously.â€
The Earth Charter Summit will be held Saturday at the Falk Theatre on the campus of the University of Tampa.
Photo by SeÃ¡n Kinane/WMNF