Culver City businesses persist through the pandemic with Sustainable Certification

By Caden Sullivan

Zooga Yoga is one of 13 businesses in Culver City that became Sustainably Certified.
Courtesy of Zooga Yoga

Culver City’s Sustainable Business Certification Program is an opportunity for business owners to prove their priorities. It’s a budgeted, assisted plan that switches small businesses to clean energy sources, implements sustainable practices and reduces their carbon footprints. Upon completion, owners receive a formal commendation from the city council recognizing their efforts to operate sustainably.

The first step a business owner can take for sustainable certification is to apply online. After they register their business on the GreenBiz website, a sustainability expert will contact them to help with the rest. The process includes an assessment, custom planning and checklists to complete, and it generally takes three to six months.

Owners may also receive a grant from the California Green Business Network and various utilities to help them meet their goals, and on top of those grants, rebates and incentives: the new changes often save costs in the long run. This assisted approach to sustainable operation is available to any business.

Zooga Yoga, which opened in 2012 as the first kids and family yoga studio in Los Angeles, is one of 13 new-certified businesses this year, and although most of their work was done before the lockdown, many of the new-certified spots used stay-at-home orders as a grace period to implement their own checklist requirements.

From the beginning, Zooga Yoga founder and CEO Antonia King has held the environment close to her heart, designing the space with bamboo floors, low-flush toilets, energy-efficient lighting and using digital paperwork. Her initiatives in sustainable practices made the checklists easier to complete, and only small changes, like the cleaners or bags they used, were necessary. Every change presented by Zooga Yoga’s program expert cost either the same or less than what the studio was using before.

“Having a company like Balanced Approach made it extremely easy for this to happen,” King said. “It took about a month total and three visits with a couple of follow-up emails and to-do lists. On top of that, I was rewarded a budget to replace some of my cleaning supplies.”

The award is presented annually, but because of the pandemic, businesses met online for the ceremony. Culver City Mayor Göran Eriksson, who appeared to commend the new wave of sustainable business owners, attested to King’s claims about ease and cost-efficiency in an interview, saying, “They [small business owners] should absolutely explore this. Not only will they do something really good for the environment, they will save money. It’s a win-win.”

Mayor Eriksson was newly elected when the program officially began in 2017, and since then, the city has added another tier of certification (Certified Innovator) along with funding for budgets and planning. He sees further potential in the project and said, “It is growing and the interest is growing. As you see, we haven’t had any problems filling the number of applicants.”

Culver City is a center of innovation and business owners aren’t the only residents concerned about their carbon footprints. The program began when locals brought the idea to City Hall, and it continues because Culver City consumers care about the places they patronize.

Joe Susca, senior management analyst at the county of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, believes this key fact is yet another incentive for uncertified businesses. He also believes local companies should consider the program.

“Customers that are environmentally conscious will seek them out, and they can find them on the California Green Business Network website,” Susca said. “They can search for them and approach them.”

If you are a local business owner interested in becoming Sustainably Certified, register at greenbiztracker.org/business/registration or visit culvercity.org/CCSBCP for more information. If you are a resident of Culver City concerned with patronizing sustainable businesses, visit greenbiztracker.org/business/search

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