Businesses help support clean, local energy by purchasing ‘green tags’

Allen Press latest to get power from Bowersock

Bowersock Mills & Power Co. workers Mark Maxwell, front, Brian Farley, right, and Rich Foreman, back left, clear debris from the lift gates on the north bank of the Kansas River to better control the flow of the river Aug. 28.

Allen Press, like many Lawrence companies, increasingly fields questions from potential clients about what environmentally friendly business practices it employs.

“We print for a lot of biological and environmental and ecological types of journals – scholarly publications – so we get a lot of requests from our customers about how we’re trying to become more green,” said Melanie Dolechek, marketing director.

Those practices include using environmentally responsible paper producers, recycled paper and soy inks.

And Allen Press is the latest Lawrence business to tap into a local, energy-friendly resource: purchasing green tags from Zephyr Energy, a partnership of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Lawrence’s Bowersock Mills & Power Co.

“It’s like when people choose to pay a little bit more for organic food,” said Sarah Hill-Nelson, Bowersock’s owner. “Because they feel like it’s good for their body, it’s good for the community. … If you go to The Merc and you buy locally grown produce, buying green tags is a similar thing. You’re paying a little bit more for your energy, and you’re supporting clean, local power.”

Green tags, or renewable energy certificates, represent a client’s commitment to offset its own carbon emissions by financially supporting cleaner energy sources such as hydropower, which Bowersock Mills & Power Co. has been producing for more than 120 years.

For Allen Press, that commitment is to offset 25 percent of its nonproduction energy use, with a goal to eventually offset 100 percent, Dolechek said.

Dan Hughes, owner of Sunflower Outdoor & Bike, offsets 100 percent of the energy costs for his store with Zephyr Energy credits.

“Obviously, the business is associated with outdoor activities,” Hughes said. “From an environmental standpoint, it made sense to do everything we could do to make sure that we weren’t harming the environment in any adverse way. Offsetting our electricity and gas through green credits, or green tags, seemed like the natural thing for us to do.”

Zephyr Energy has nearly 40 clients, including the city of Lawrence. That support is vital to Bowersock’s commitment to producing hydropower, Hill-Nelson said.

“Those are incredibly important to small-energy producers,” she said. “Because what it means is we’re able to get enough money for our energy that we could actually put in a new project.”