Helping Bodegas and Barbershops Get Environmentally Friendly


“Going green” is usually seen as too expensive for small businesses, especially in urban neighborhoods. Paying employees, meeting costs and paying rent are usually the priority for mom and pop businesses, especially in these tough economic times. Retrofitting an existing business to be environmentally friendly sounds great in principle, but usually proves to be too costly.

Some groups are trying to change this mentality by providing guidance to small business owners of the benefits of going green.

One company, Blocpower, is a nonprofit that provides “green audits” of existing businesses and points out the potential tax breaks or savings a few changes can create.

Kamal Nuru, co-owner of Levels Barbershop on 125th Street in Harlem, recently contacted Blocpower for a green audit. The group showed him that by replacing the lights in his business with more efficient, longer-lasting options, he could save between $450 and $2,000 a year on his energy bill.

Mr. Nuru found out about the group through a 18-month course designed to teach how energy efficiency can help bottom lines. Barbara Roberts, a professor of the program, has worked with 20 businesses so far.

“The first thing I tell them is to look at every bill, every receipt , and tally them for the year,” Ms. Roberts said. “Utilities are almost always the top of that list, which is why it’s so imperative to shave every dollar, every penny. It adds up.”

Read More: The Wall Street Journal