Green Begets Green

Content from Local iQ, May 31, 2012

New Mexico businesses wear eco-values on their sleeves with membership to NM Green Chamber of Commerce

Story by Cristina Olds • Photo by Wes Nama
Chambers of Commerce abound in the Albuquerque area: the American Indian Chamber of Commerce, the Albuquerque Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender CC, the African American CC, Rio Rancho Regional and the West Side chambers, as well as the biggies, the Greater Albuquerque CC and the Albuquerque Hispano CC, to name just a few. But one chamber shines through as a beacon of hope for the state’s environment and economy: the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce.

“There are businesses out there who want to see New Mexico move toward a clean energy economy,” CEO of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce (NMGCC) Allan Oliver said in a recent interview with Local iQ.

“There are people who want to see businesses have a greater commitment to the community, and to protecting our air, land and water.”
Serving members who care about the goals of “advocating for renewable energy, strengthening local economies and seizing the green business advantage,” the NMGCC was started in Las Cruces and Silver City in 2010. Now with active chapters also in Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque, the NMGCC represents an array of distinct communities with a similar focus.
“One of our big strengths is strong local boards and executive directors for each of our chapters,” Oliver said. For example, he noted, Silver City organized a tamale festival with more than 600 people attending in December. They’re now calling it the first annual Tamale Fiesta and plans are being laid to invite northern New Mexican vendors and Texans, according to the Silver City Sun-News.
As a smaller organization with a more narrow focus, Oliver believes the NMGCC is able to affect change more quickly and succinctly. He and NMGCC president Lawrence Rael were on their way to Washington, D.C., in May to participate in a White House business council forum discussing issues affecting business members. “There’s a good understanding at the national level (about greening businesses),” Oliver said. “It’s good for New Mexico, too, if we can capitalize on it.”
New Mexico is one of only a few states with its own green chamber. Nationally, the U.S. Green Chamber (usgreenchamber.com) is also championing the advantages to businesses and communities to think green via economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Image

Photo by Wes Naman
With more than 1,200 business members statewide, and such Albuquerque members as Bohannan-Huston Engineering, DW Turner Communications and Flying Star Cafe, NMGCC leaders will continue with activism in the legislature to keep green incentives to attract new companies and grow local businesses, to support responsible development of renewable energy on public lands and to protect the environmental standards already in place, among other initiatives.
“We’re advocating in legislature, at a federal level and with city and county leadership,” Oliver said.
The first Renewable Energy and Clean Technology Conference was held in Las Cruces in September of 2011, and attracted more than 20 businesses as diverse as Intel and Emcor Solar Photovoltaic. The next Sustainable Business Summit will be in Albuquerque on July 26. Workshops will be hands-on for businesses interested in designing their own sustainability plans or examining green workplace improvements, “while never forgetting this is about long-term profits and making sure businesses are in it for the long haul,” Oliver added. The conference will also celebrate exemplary green businesses and individual leaders in areas of building, products and workplace practices.
New Mexico is fortunate and deserving of the many advantages a green chamber of commerce brings. When considering how to best network and gain knowledge and benefits specific to our natural resource rich state, businesses can feel good about joining this chamber of commerce.