Cool article in the NYTimes.
Making a Profit and a DifferenceBy GLENN RIFKINPublished: October 5, 2006
When the architect and urban redeveloper Guy L. Bazzani moved from Northern California to Grand Rapids, Mich., more than a decade ago, he didn’t expect his ideas about socially responsible, environmentally healthy business to be embraced right away. Local companies had suffered enough economic hardship without the added burden of such ideologies.
Still, after Mr. Bazzani set up shop as Bazzani Associates in 1994, he gradually persuaded the community of the economic soundness of his green business practices. The firm, which specializes in restoring old buildings, uses techniques and tools including green roofs that are covered with plants, storm water management systems and environmentally friendly building materials.
“We found that we can build green buildings that utilize 40 percent to 50 percent less energy at the same price as traditional buildings,” Mr. Bazzani, a Michigan native, said. “When I came back here I thought I’d stay a couple of years and return to California. But my green business took off. When people come to me, I’m their first choice, a locally owned business that can produce at value.”
If this Rust Belt city of 280,000 is any barometer, small, local businesses are inclined to embrace social responsibility and will promote environmental health. In three years since Mr. Bazzani, 51, founded an organization called Local First, more than 250 independent businesses in Grand Rapids have come on board.