Students work for greater sustainabilty practices

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April 15, 2011

2:04 AM

Sustainability is a buzz word in the City of Williamsburg.

On March 29, students at the Mason School of Business sent out a survey on sustainability to businesses in Williamsburg in order to see how environmental factors contriute to business practices.

The team of student consultants is working with the city to create a strategy for increasing sustainability in local businesses. The survey defined sustainability as any practices or procedures that meet present economic needs without sacrificing the environmental needs of future generations.

“The survey is a tool for deciding how to go about increasing sustainability for the businesses of Williamsburg,” Michele Dewitt, the economic development director for the city of Williamsburg, said. “The students are researching and have chosen Williamsburg’s EDA as their client, and will present a plan for how to go about increasing sustainability.”

The survey was sent by students in a nEnvironmental Consulting class as part of a project to determine the status of businesses in Williamsburg.

“We sent out the sustainability survey as part of our research for our semester project for our Environmental Consulting class,” Clayton Perry ’12, a student who is working with the survey results, said. “Our client is the City of Williamsburg’s Economic Development authority and our goal was to figure out ways to both encourage sustainability amongst preexisting businesses in the Williamsburg area as well as trying to attract green businesses to establish themselves in the city.”

The results of the survey, which businesses turned in to the students on April 1, showed that many businesses were already taking steps toward improving their sustainability, and were open to learning more about sustainability initiatives. Most businesses expressed a need for resources in order to become more sustainable.

“Businesses are willing to learn more about sustainability if the information is provided to them, and they want to receive information via email or web,” Liza McDevitt ’12 said. “We are going to recommend the city streamline and make more accessible information for businesses on sustainable projects for improving operations, possibly creating an eco-listserv.”

The city is doing its part to increase sustainability, including being involved with the Virginia Green Initiative and the Williamsburg Green Challenge, two community programs which encourage sustainable activities.

“The city feels sustainability is very important for the future, the environment and the society of Williamsburg,” Dewitt said. “We are looking forward to what the students’ plan is; we are always looking forward to ways of improvement.”

The group of students presented the results of the project to the Williamsburg Economic Authority April 13.

“We hope to provide an easy way for businesses to find more resources and increase the visibility of the city’s green business initiatives with our project in order to accomplish our goals of improved business sustainability in Williamsburg,” Perry said.

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