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Move Over Transformers, Meet the REACON Team

July 6, 2011 - 10:30am

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Businesses in Stockton, California are increasing their bottom line by going green, thanks to the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce’s energy waste-fighting REACON (Recycling-Energy-Air-Conservation) Team. The REACON team swoops in to save the day with visits local businesses, offering suggestions on reducing waste, energy usage and other costly items.

During a typical visit, the REACON audit team will dive into dumpsters, reviews past utility bills with scrutiny and inspects appliances. Their research yields a series of suggestions, designed to increase the businesses’s earnings, save energy and enhance their status as environmental stewards.

"The program helps us reduce our carbon footprint and allows local businesses to reduce costs," said Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston. "We are excited about the impact that we will have on the entire region."

“We don’t really want to pressure businesses. When we go in there, some of the ideas make economic sense, and they’re going to jump on that,” said Frank Ferral, REACON Program Manager.

The City of Stockton transferred $153,440 in EECBG (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant) funding to the Chamber of Commerce to expand REACON. With these funds, REACON is offering energy efficient products and additional incentive funds, developing the REACON Calculator to show businesses their “carbon footprint,” holding workshops to train businesses and enhancing local marketing efforts.

Recent REACON efforts also include the development of a green business certification process, in which Stockton business owner Wendy Faulks took part. Using the REACON checklist to obtain ideas, she implemented an array of green practices at her business, Premier Finishing. According to her, installing large energy efficient appliances was the easy part, including a $50,000 air compressor which will pay for itself in energy savings in less than a year.

“What was a lot more difficult for me - but what made a bigger impact - were the small things,” she said, like training her staff to recycle and turn off electronics when not in use.

“Just when you’re about to give up, everyone is trained and it’s working really well,” she said. “Employees are implementing these things at home. REACON not only changed our business, but a lot of local households too.”

The changes in her office alone result in an annual CO2 savings of 40 metric tons and an annual water savings of 1.2 metric tons.

With increased publicity about the REACON model, local governments throughout the Central Valley are taking note. To date, Ferral has helped eight jurisdictions in the area to implement their own REACON-like programs, using the REACON calculator and checklist of green action items.

“I think the fact that other communities are following suit just speaks volumes about what we’re able to do here in Stockton,” said Ferral.” That’s why we did the program the way we did -- so it can be replicated.”

REACON is part of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce’s Green Team, which includes an array of integrated environmental programs and resources for businesses. For more information, please visit: www.greenteamsanjoaquin.com.

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