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Cleveland Gives Green Businesses an Edge for City Contracts

The city of Cleveland has passed a law giving companies in its local sustainable business program a 4 percent bid discount for city contracts.

The law would be the first of its kind, according to the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), the nonprofit that houses the Green Plus certification program. It would also give sustainable businesses an advantage in the bidding process similar to what is offered to minority- and women-owned businesses.

For example, if a company participating in the Green Plus certification program were to bid on a service contract to provide maintenance for the city's fleet, the city would consider the bid amount to be 4 percent lower than what was originally offered, explained Kirsten Hausman, ISD director of client relations and communications.

"The company would get the same amount that they bid, but the city would write off that 4 percent," Hausman said.

Eligible companies must have completed the first stage of the program, including a taking a diagnostic survey and receiving a minimum 40 point score in order to be listed as a "Green Plus Mover." An overall score or 80 percent or more, with at least 70 percent in all categories (people, planet and performance) earns companies the "Green Plus certification."

There is an expectation that "Green Plus Mover" companies taking advantage of the 4 percent bidding discount would achieve full certification within a year, Hausman said, but the city wanted to offer companies the benefit immediately.

"Ideally the city of Cleveland would like all the businesses to be Green Plus certified but they accept that it takes a company six to nine months to get certified," Hausman said.

ISD, created in 2007, tested the Green Plus certification program from 2007 to 2008 before launching it last year. To date, the Taylor Companies and Lubestop are the only Green Plus certified companies in the Cleveland area, with 10 others working toward certification.

It costs $550 to participate in the Green Plus program. Up to 75 companies in Cuyahoga and Lake counties that spend less than $150,000 a year on energy costs, however, can get a $200 discount on the Green Plus certification fee, as well as a $250 energy audit discount through the Council of Smaller Enterprises, a local support and advocacy group representing small businesses.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user laszlo-photo.

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