Going green still a challenge for area businesses, governments

Apr 19, 2013

Central New York has a lot to be proud of when it comes to going green. That was the message at the Greening USA annual meeting in Syracuse yesterday. But there are still challenges when it comes to making the investment in green energy.

A small town in Cortland County is a poster child for a municipality going green, according to Chris Carrick, who manages the energy program at the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board.

"We've worked with the town of Preble to retrofit their town hall by installing solar panels. and take them off using fuel oil," he said.

Carrick says the town's initial investment in green infrastructure will be paid back in five years. Carrick notes it's that lag between investment and payback in tight financial times, that becomes a challenge when it comes to private businesses going green.          

"A lot of municipalities can tolerate that sort of investment, but many businesses are looking for a payback in two years or less," said Carrick.

Le Moyne College student David Pascarella conducted a study of the views of central New York businesses about sustainability, which shows those that take the leap toward going greener look at the bottom line and public relations.

"There's definitely a perceived benefit whether its brand recognition, the effect on the environment, or just for the utility expenses if they had an infrastructure improvements," he said.

Pascarella says the survey shows that green investments by businesses ran the gamut - from changing infrastructure and vehicle fleets, to altering design and manufacturing processes.