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Los Angeles Launches a Green Business Certification Program for 2009

The Los Angeles green business certification program hopes to certify businesses within six months including restaurants, retailers, office-based businesses, auto repair shops and hotels.

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Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon has been working to get a green business certification program off the ground for several years.

Alarcon,a former state senator, whose 7th District includes Pacoima and Sylmar, introduced legislation for a statewide green business certification plan in 2004, but it didn't pass.

The Los Angeles green business certification program, which the City Council hopes will be certifying businesses within six months, would focus initially on restaurants, retailers, office-based businesses, auto repair shops and hotels. The program has received backing of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

The city's convention and visitors group, L.A. Inc., which is working with third-party certifier Green Seal to help lodging businesses earn its green stamp, is coordinating with the city program to match up certification criteria.

The $150,000 grant from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will allow the city's Environmental Affairs Department to issue a request for proposals from organizations or companies that want to operate the program for the city. Likely contender are Sustainable Works, a nonprofit that operates Santa Monica's green business certification program and the Los Angeles Community College District, which is establishing a training course to teach businesses how to be green.

The certification program, which he said should cost a small business less than $500 to participate in, would be meant to give a marketing edge to individual businesses, as well as the city itself.

Los Angeles' green business certification program is modeled on a Bay Area program started by counties in 1997 which has certified over 800 businesses. San Diego also has a green certification program for a limited number of business sectors.

Los Angeles' vast number of businesses, including 11,000 restaurants, would be attempting green certification on a larger scale than practiced anywhere else. Potential backlogs and service for all the city's communities are real concerns.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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