Needham’s Volante Farms, Kingsbury Homes and North Hill were the Needham businesses recognized at the Newton Needham Chamber of Commerce’s Green Business Awards Breakfast. Close to 200 business and civic leaders gathered on June 26th along the banks of the Charles River at the Newton Marriott Hotel’s outdoor pavilion to discuss and celebrate the economic and social benefits of being green at the awards breakfast.
Attorney General Martha Coakley used her keynote address to discuss her office’s commitment to regulating energy costs and encouraging innovation, technology and best practices. Bob Zimmerman, executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association, spoke about the history, conditions and challenges facing the river, flowing just yards from where attendees were dining.
Both Newton Mayor Setti Warren and Needham Board of Selectman Chairman Dan Matthews used their time to discuss a variety of green initiatives and pledged to work together on efforts that will result in greater sustainability. The event was emceed by New England Cable News Meteorologist Matt Noyes.
“We need everyone in Massachusetts to be part of the conversation,” Coakley said. “If we’re committed to solving this problem, then there are going to be ways to do it. If we shy away and say it’s too hard, then nothing will happen.”
But the main focus at the June 26 breakfast was on five area businesses that were honored for their efforts to preserve and protect the environment.
- Volante Farms was named Needham’s “Green Business of the Year” for its commitment to incorporating sustainability into every aspect of its farm and retail operation, highlighted most recently by this year’s renovation of its store.
- Meredith Management Corporation was named Newton’s “Green Business of the Year,” in recognition of its longstanding commitment to incorporating green practices and products into property development, most recently, the $470 million mixed-use Fenway Center.
- North Hill of Needham, received a “Green Initiative Award” in recognition of the way it has incorporated energy savings into the daily lives of its residents as well as into its overall operation.
- Kingsbury Homes Limited, also of Needham, was recognized with a “Green Initiative Award” for demonstrating that it is possible to build highly energy-efficient homes in Needham at an accessible price point.
- B/E Retrofit, of Auburndale, received a “Green Initiative Award” in recognition of its commitment to green projects and hiring exclusively from the Green Jobs Academy, which trains underemployed people to work in the weatherization field.
“Climate change used to be a science discussion, now it’s a political discussion, often with visceral reactions,” NECN’s Noyes told attendees. “It’s not a crunchy ideology. It’s the heart of our community. It’s quintessential New England.”
Once an annual chamber event, the Green Business Awards event had been on hiatus for two years. Chamber President Greg Reibman credited Environment Committee Chairman Peter Smith for “his dogged insistence on reviving the awards and for the committee members who helped plan the event and vet all of the award finalists.”
Green Needham Chair Michael Greis has been a member of the Chamber’s Environmental Committee since its inception and, as a member of this year’s awards committee, led the effort to identify Needham businesses to be considered for recognition.