First Green Business Tour a Success

Our first ever Green Business Tour for educators was held on September 26th, and it was a huge success. Educators and Bluegrass Greensource staff toured Alltech and FoodChain in the morning, before heading over to the Plantory for tasty food and a “Lunch and Learn” session provided by Whole Foods. After lunch, educators toured Big Ass Solutions and the Kentucky American Water treatment plant in Lexington.  It was a busy day, jam-packed with information about these businesses, the ways these businesses are working to improve the environment, and green jobs that will be available to area students.

Participating teachers said, “[The Green Business Tour was] very helpful and will improve my ability to assist my students,” and “Visiting all of the businesses was a great experience! Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.”  We hope to continue to offer this opportunity to educators across Central Kentucky!

Bluegrass Greensource would like to thank Alltech, Big Ass Solutions, FoodChain, and Kentucky American Water for providing tours of their facilities and information to educators about Green Careers.  We would also like to thank Whole Foods for sponsoring our Lunch and Learn session at the Plantory and providing us with a delicious, healthy lunch.

If you would like to attend the next Green Business Tour or if you have questions about the Green Jobs Program, please contact Macy Gould at or 859-266-1572.

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Ready, set, go with the 2015 LiveGreenLexington Green Business Challenge

Lexington professionals, listen up: if you’re interested in becoming more sustainable, you love saving money on your utility bills, and you have a little bit of a competitive streak, this one’s for you! The 2015 LiveGreenLexington Green Business Challenge is now underway, and it’s anyone’s game to win.

The launch party is tonight, Oct. 2, at the Carnegie Center for Literacy in Lexington from 5-7 p.m. Join us to represent your business and find out more about the challenge. You’ll also have a chance to meet our partners, network with peers, register to compete if you haven’t already, and enjoy light refreshments.

The challenge is a sustainability competition for Lexington’s business community. It uses practical activities – from energy conservation to transportation, and everything in between – to help you set and achieve your sustainability goals and have a little fun while you do it.

Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re already as green as can be, the challenge has something to offer your business – it provides structure and direction, lets you brag on the things you’re already doing, and encourages you to keep improving all year long. And with more than 100 activities to choose from, it’s flexible enough to meet any organization’s needs and budget.

The challenge is free and available to any Lexington business or organization, and it comes with plenty of perks, thanks to support from Elite Partners Office Depot, Graybar, and Klausing Group.

Challenge participants can take advantage of free energy and lighting assessments, free landscaping assessments, free waste audits, and exclusive training opportunities on topics ranging from green purchasing to water quality best management practices.

Head over to to find out more about this great opportunity and register while you’re there. Competition runs through June 30, and registration is open until Feb. 1. If you sign up early, you’ve got more time to earn those points.

1 bethBeth Oleson is an outreach specialist for Bluegrass Greensource, working primarily with Lexington businesses to help build a more sustainable community. A Lexington native, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marine science and environmental studies from the University of South Carolina before returning home to the Bluegrass to pursue non-profit work. When she’s not busy with Greensource, Beth’s other passion is animal rescue and welfare.

This article appeared in KY Forward on October 3, 2014.


Take the Challenge: Competition Opens October 1

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Lexington’s business community is invited to participate in a new-and-improved sustainability competition starting October 1: the LiveGreenLexington Green Business Challenge!  Formerly the LiveGreenLexington Games, the Challenge offers a structured – and fun – way for Lexington businesses to earn recognition for their sustainability initiatives, set and work toward efficiency goals, and take advantage of a broad range of trainings, resources, and services along the way.  Whether your business is already one of Lexington’s sustainability leaders, or you’re just getting started, the Challenge has something for you.

One of the big changes coming in this year’s Challenge is its new format: competition is activity-based, and all online at  Powered by Green Per Square Foot, the Challenge website is more than just a way to earn points; GreenPSF also assists businesses in tracking their utility usage, finding financial incentives, and locating outside resources to help make their sustainability goals a reality.

Another exciting perk for 2015 Challenge participants is the opportunity to take advantage of exclusive resources and services, thanks to support from partner organizations Office Depot, Graybar, Klausing Group, and Bluegrass Greensource.  Office Depot will be offering a workshop on green purchasing; Graybar is offering comprehensive lighting and energy assessments; Klausing Group is offering consultation on green landscaping; and Bluegrass Greensource is offering waste audits, staff training, and printed materials.  The best part?  It’s all free for Challenge participants.  Even if you’re not in it to win it, you don’t want to miss out on these great events and services.

Lexington’s business community is diverse – from mom-and-pop to large-scale industrial operations – but the Challenge is flexible enough to work for any organization of any size.  The 9-month competition period running from October 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 allows participants plenty of time to complete activities on their own schedule.  Participants can peruse over 100 activities, and choose the ones that suit their needs – as many or as few as they prefer.  And if your business is already green, never fear: many of the activities can be completed retroactively, so you’ll get credit for the things you’re already doing.

Registration is open now at  Sign up before competition opens on October 1 and you’ll hit the ground running with 50 points from the Earlybird Bonus activity!  Any and all Lexington businesses and organizations are welcome to compete.

Whether you’ve already signed up or just want to learn more, please join LFUCG and Bluegrass Greensource as we launch the 2015 Challenge on Thursday, October 2, 2014 from 5-7pm at the Carnegie Center.  The launch will feature a welcome from the city, words of wisdom and inspiration from Challenge partners Office Depot, Graybar, and Klausing Group, Challenge Q&A, registration stations, and plenty of time to network with your peers – it’s a friendly competition, after all!

Register Now!

Questions?  Contact program administrator Beth Oleson.


Does your business measure up? Find out with Green Business challenge

Being sustainable at home? Piece of cake. Being sustainable at work? A little tougher.

When your coworkers are all using energy, running water, printing documents, commuting to work and using (or not using) the recycling bins, it’s easy for your workplace’s environmental footprint to get big in a hurry. That’s where the LiveGreenLexington Green Business Challenge comes in: it’s designed to help Lexington’s business community be a sustainable one.

Since 2011, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and Bluegrass Greensource have teamed up to host an annual, friendly competition for Lexington businesses, formerly known as the LiveGreenLexington Games. This year, Lexington has the distinction of being one of only four cities nationwide to receive grant funding from the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives to expand and improve that competition.
And expand and improve it we have.

The challenge is designed to engage participants from start to finish, keeping them actively improving their energy and water efficiency and reducing their waste production throughout the nine-month competition. Participants complete activities to earn points and move up the leader board.

With more than 100 activities to choose from, from “Form a green team” to “Earn LEED certification for your facility,” there are opportunities for any organization of any size to compete. We know sustainability for sustainability’s sake isn’t every company’s cup of tea; but even if going green isn’t a top priority in your workplace, the challenge is still a great opportunity to save some green – those shrinking utility bills look pretty good from where we’re standing.

Challenge participants don’t have to walk the road to sustainability alone. With the support of partner organizations Green Per Square Foot, Office Depot, and Graybar, the 2015 challenge offers more trainings, workshops, and services than ever before. The challenge is all online and powered by Green Per Square Foot, which also helps businesses track their energy consumption, bid out facility improvement projects, and find financial incentives. Energy and lighting assessments, waste audits, and much more will be available free of charge during the challenge period. Additionally, nearly all activities come with a host of resources to help participants achieve their goals.

Want to take the challenge? Here’s what you need to know:

‣ Any Lexington business or organization can compete – not just LiveGreenLexington Partners, as in the past (although we hope you’ll become a partner if you decide to compete).
‣ It’s free! Just go to to sign up and get started.
‣ Registration is open now. Sign up before Oct. 1 and start off the challenge with 50 bonus points for being an early-bird.
‣ Competition runs from Oct. 1 through June 30, 2014, with an awards ceremony in July 2015.
‣ The challenge is whatever you want it to be: you choose which activities to pursue, you work on your own timeline, you tailor it to fit your business and your needs.

Whether you’re ready to drop everything and sign up now, or you want to find out a little bit more about the challenge, join us on Oct. 2 from 5-7 p.m. at the Carnegie Center in downtown Lexington and represent your workplace at the official 2015 Green Business Challenge launch. We’ll be kicking off the challenge in style – and there will be plenty of time to network and share ideas with your peers. It’s a friendly competition, after all.

1 beth

Beth Oleson is an outreach specialist for Bluegrass Greensource, working primarily with Lexington businesses to help build a more sustainable community. A Lexington native, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marine science and environmental studies from the University of South Carolina before returning home to the Bluegrass to pursue non-profit work. When she’s not busy with Greensource, Beth’s other passion is animal rescue and welfare.

This article appeared in KY Forward on August 21, 2014.


Green Jobs Program Offers Opportunities for Educators and Students

The Bluegrass Greensource Green Jobs Program is wrapping up its first year with some great events – the Green Business Tour and 3 regional Green Career Fairs. We are pleased to share that this program has been well received by participating schools in the Bluegrass. These established partnerships with schools have the potential to offer Green Jobs programming and career readiness training to more than 16,800 students in Central Kentucky!

As part of the Green Jobs Program, we are excited to offer a new educator tour this year focused on green businesses and career pathways. “I am so excited to not only be able to showcase the wonderful green businesses in our region,” says Amy Sohner, Executive Director of Bluegrass Greensource, “but also to help young people plan for a career that will help them find a satisfying job and improve our environment. This tour will prove to be one of the best professional development opportunities you have this year!”

Educators will tour Alltech, FoodChain, Big Ass Solutions, and Kentucky American Water and will be able to speak with representatives from each business. The goal of the green business tour is to expand participating educators’ understanding of green jobs and identify factors that enable or inhibit an adequately skilled labor force to support economic growth in the green sector in the Bluegrass Region.  Businesses participating in the tour offer field trip possibilities, internships, scholarships, and even job opportunities for educators to bring back to their students.  The Green Business Tour will be held Friday, September 26th from 8am to 4pm.  If you are an educator and are interested in participating in the tour, please contact Ashley Bryant Cheney for more information or view the informational flyer for the event here.

Bluegrass Greensource is also organizing three Green Career Fairs aimed at focusing students’ attention on the green jobs that are available in Central Kentucky. The fairs will be targeted toward high school students and will incorporate green job training programs and green business/career possibilities. We also hope to begin to build collaborative relationships among schools, students, and the green business sector.

Green Career Fairs will be held on October 2nd at Danville High School, October 17th at Locust Trace Agriscience Farm, and October 21st at Kentucky State University.  Here’s what Kathleen Campbell of Franklin County Schools had to say about partnering with Bluegrass Greensource for the Green Career Fair to be held at Kentucky State University: “I am very excited about the Green Career Fair – it has many more facets than the traditional Career Fairs. I feel there is something that will appeal to all students. Not only are there going to be businesses to inform students about their jobs, but there will also be scholarships, internships, and possible job opportunities.  Students will also be learning ways to make the earth a better place for generations to come.”

In 2015, Bluegrass Greensource plans to expand the Green Jobs Program to work with more schools and businesses, provide more classroom activities, connect students with internships and job opportunities, and reach more students.  Stay tuned for more exciting news from the Green Jobs Program!


Go Green, Save Green Workshop a Success

The fifth annual Go Green, Save Green (GGSG) Workshop was held on March 20, 2014. The weather was kind, the presentations enlightening, and lunch was delicious. Many agreed the post-workshop happy hour held at Blue Stallion Brewing Company was an added bonus. The workshop, sponsored by LFUCG and organized by Bluegrass Greensource, aims to provide various types of Lexington businesses with information from experts in waste reduction, water, and energy efficiency. Learning how to be a greener business can result in cost savings through reducing landfill-bound waste, saving on water costs, and/or reducing energy bills. The workshop brought together over 105 members of Lexington’s business community. Industrial and small businesses, restaurants, churches, LEED professionals, apartments, and non-profits had specialized tracks based on their needs and specific interests. The event was held at BCTC’s Newtown Campus, the former site of Eastern State Hospital, in the beautiful Main Building. The LEED certified building was the perfect venue with its brand-spanking new technology, abundance of natural light, and friendly staff.

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Above: Clive Pohl delivers keynote address.

To start the day, Susan Plueger, Director of LFUCG’s Division of Environmental Policy, gave opening remarks and discussed the city’s green initiatives. Later, Susan also gave a presentation on low impact development guidelines for stormwater management. Clive Pohl, Architect at Pohl Rosa Pohl, delivered the lunchtime keynote address, “Accentuate the Positive,” putting into context the need for sustainable business practices. Businesses, says Pohl, can be more sustainable through Natural Capital Accounting. This form of accounting places economic value on nature and accounts for the negative externalities – the costs of industrialization, such as air pollution, which do not factor into most business calculations. Pohl concluded by saying, “it is up to us to recognize the economic imperative for conservation.”

Workshop LEED and sustainability highlights included Sy Safi of Louisville discussing building the first net-zero home in Kentucky. The home’s energy is provided by solar panels while the water is provided by a cistern which stores rainwater. No-VOC and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) building materials were used to prevent off-gassing and air pollution. Energy Star appliances and recycled materials like old barn posts combined to make the home both eco-friendly and charmingly eclectic. Chris Zitelli from Ecos Materials and Services shared his expertise on HERS and the LEED process. Joan Pauly, Sustainability Coordinator for Berea College, educated workshop-goers on the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) framework and illustrated the process with examples from the college. Tim Darst from Louisville’s Interfaith Power and Light delivered the first ever session for a religious institutions GGSG workshop track and shared ideas on how one can “green” their house of worship. Greg Phipps from Big Ass Fans discussed the mechanics behind thermal energy and low-velocity, large-diameter fans in conditioned spaces.

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Above: Joan Pauly, Berea College

Waste and recycling issues specific to Lexington were discussed by Esther Moberly, LFUCG Recycling Program Specialist, and Ryan Farley, Environmental Educator for Bluegrass Greensource. Barry Prater, LFUCG Commodity Market Manager, discussed the details behind Lexington’s recycling program and complexities of selling recyclables on the global market. Harriet Dupree-Bradley presented her company’s journey to becoming a certified Green Restaurant (Dupree Catering was the first business in Kentucky to become a 2 Star Certified Green Restaurant Caterer). Lastly, Lexington-based non-profit Seedleaf was represented by Ryan Koch, who shared details on creating low-tech composting.


It's Not Easy Being Green – We're Here to Help!

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The 5th annual Go Green, Save Green Workshop, sponsored by LFUCG, is scheduled for March 20, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the BCTC Newtown Campus (500 Newtown Pike). This one-day workshop will educate businesses of all types and sizes on practices that are both environmentally friendly and money-saving.

This workshop is a fantastic opportunity to network with sustainability professionals and learn more about the steps that businesses can take to save energy, improve water quality, and reduce waste, all while reducing your costs!


Whether you’re just getting started implementing eco-friendly practices at your business or you’re a seasoned sustainability professional, there are sessions to fit your needs. This year’s workshop offers specialized tracks for various types of businesses including industrial-sized businesses, bars and restaurants, apartment complexes, and religious institutions.

This year, we have partnered with the Kentucky U.S. Green Building Council to expand our offerings, including a session that will provide continuing education credit for LEED professionals. Sessions on energy efficient thermal comfort, grants for developing brownfields, water incentive grants, low impact development, and net-zero building will offer much to consider for businesses looking to ‘go green.’

Homeowners as well as businesses will benefit from learning about current recycling efforts in Lexington, the ins and outs of composting, and water quality issues. There will also be a presentation from the builder of Kentucky’s first net-zero energy home.

The cost to attend is $25 (general attendee), $15 (student attendee), or $50 (vendor). On-site general registration on the day of the event will cost $40. The registration fee covers admission to all sessions, a zero-waste breakfast and catered lunch, a tour of the LEED Certified BCTC Newtown Campus, chances to win door prizes (including a Haiku Fan from Big Ass Fans), and a drink ticket for happy hour. Happy Hour and networking will take place at Blue Stallion Brewing Company after the sessions. Parking is free and conveniently accessible.

To register, please visit by March 18th. Registration after that date cannot be guaranteed to include lunch.