Sustainable Connections in Bellingham, WA has announced the winners of this year’s Sustainability Champion Awards, which honor five local businesses who are taking steps towards achieving a healthy triple bottom line – taking care of employees, our environment, and the local economy.

Winners and nominees are all members of Sustainable Connections, a non-profit membership organization of more than 500 NW Washington business working to transform and model an economy built on sustainable practices. Drawn from the four tenets of their mission, the awards celebrate local businesses who are leaders in: Strong Community, Healthy Environment, Meaningful Employment, and Buying Local First, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“It’s important to recognize businesses in our community who are going the extra mile to give back,” said Becca Weathers Membership and Think Local First Coordinator, “we are incredibly honored to have so many local innovators, pioneers and change makers working every day to build a strong economy and more vibrant community.”

The 2017 nominees and winners are as follows:

Strong Community
Nominated: Fairhaven Runners & Walkers, Cascadia Weekly, Aslan Brewing Company

Winner: Aslan Brewing Company 

Aslan has been innovating and collaborating in our community since they first opened their doors. They are passionate about supporting our community, and have committed to doing everything they can to give back, regularly hosting fundraisers and brewing special beers for a wide variety of community organizations and causes. They’ve established a robust charitable giving framework and a strong measurement system, focusing their philanthropic efforts in five categories: art and culture, health, environment, education and the common good. In 2016 alone, Aslan donated $35,331 in beer, or just over 15% of their total profits! They are true leaders, showing what’s possible when you commit to building a strong local community.

Healthy Environment:
Nominated: Cedarville Farm, 3 Oms Yoga, The Leopold Retirement Residence
Winner: The Leopold Retirement Residence

The Leopold has implemented a number of large sustainability projects to minimize environmental impacts and to increase comfort for their residents. Every unit in the building and all common areas received more energy efficient lighting, water heaters, lighting sensors, as well as low-flow faucets, shower heads, and toilets. They have also invested in a new boiler for deep energy savings, and have worked hard to reduce waste, being an exemplary Toward Zero Waste leader. Their “Toward Zero Waste” efforts included starting in-room recycling for residents, eliminating all Styrofoam from the kitchen, reducing pre-packaged single-serve items (which diverts 30 gallons of plastic per week from landfills) and introducing composting to their kitchen – resulting in another 120 gallons saved from landfill per week! Every year they continue to make sustainability a priority and show all businesses in our region that investing in sustainability is good for the environment and the bottom line.

Meaningful Employment
Nominated: Superfeet, Itek Energy, A-1 Builders & Adaptions Design Studio 
Winner: A-1 Builders & Adaptions Design Studio 

As a  business that has been around for over six decades, they have helped set the standards in Whatcom County for custom homes, green building, and beautiful design. Current owners Rick and Cindi Dubrow have created a working culture and environment that according to many employees honors “triple bottom line thinking, heartfelt communication, transparency, and honesty.” They have worked hard to provide exceptional benefits for all employees, and on their way to retirement, Rick and Cindi recently sold their entire business to their staff– making this the first employee-owned construction cooperative in our region and a business that will continue to serve the myriad of individuals that run it for years to come.

Buying Local First
Nominated:  Raven Breads, ACME Farms & Kitchen, Drizzle Lynden
Winner: Drizzle Lynden

Drizzle is well known for their high-quality oils and vinegar, but is also putting itself on the map for exceptional cuisine at its new café inside the Drizzle Lynden location. Head Chef Andy Nguyen has created a menu that changes with the seasons and sources heavily from local farms and food businesses. He will even go as far as driving out to local farms to pick up ingredients! The Buying Local First Award is not just about sourcing locally though, it is also about increasing awareness of the importance of choosing local first. Drizzle actively and regularly communicates about the importance of buying local by sharing where ingredients are sourced from and the stories of the farmers they buy from. Andy also volunteered to be the 2016 resident chef for the Bellingham Farmers Market “Ask the Chef” booth at the Wednesday market and is a steering committee member of the NW WA Chefs Collective – a group dedicated to educating our community about the importance of local food.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Andy Leebron Clay of the Mt. Baker Care Center

Andy has gone above and beyond to serve her community and the people (and critters) in it for decades. She is a lifelong learner with three masters degrees, the most recent being one in nonprofit development. She has dedicated volunteer time and served on a number of boards multiple local organizations including the Boys & Girls Club, Brigid Collins, Northwest Straights, and the St. Francis Foundation. She is also foster mom and, along with her husband, has opened up her home to host charity auctions, retreats, and large animals from the Humane Society (in their barn of course!). After retiring she went back to work as a volunteer firefighter and is currently taking EMT classes. Most recently she and her husband agreed to let Generations Daycare use a large space inside the Mt. Baker Care Center free of charge. There are few people who haven’t been changed, inspired, or uplifted by Andy and all of the amazing work she has done for our community.

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