The Plaza’s Long Islands are turning green.
Annemarie Kalson of Sustain Dane said the Plaza applied for Sustain Dane’s MPower Business Champion Program in spring 2013 and graduated this month, along with other local businesses like Tutto Pasta and Community Pharmacy.
Sustain Dane is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable business solutions in Dane County. Karlson said The MPower program is a year-long effort to train employees of local businesses on better sustainability practices.
“We would like to see this area be known as a model of sustainability and sustainability innovation,” Kalson said. “The businesses go through the program as a cohort. They have the opportunity to learn from each other and share inspiration and practices.”
Plaza owner Dean Hetue said it was not money that drove the bar’s effort in becoming more eco-friendly, but rather it was a focus on improving the future of Madison’s downtown.
He said keeping money in the city is crucial for this to happen.
“I think it is really important to the future to try and buy more food locally and keep the dollars right here in our town and county,” Hetue said.
Hetue said the Plaza staff has been implementing all of the sustainable strategies they learned from Sustain Dane. He said they have replaced inefficient lighting, installed occupancy sensors and bought more food and beverages from local producers.
Hetue said nearly 85 percent of the Plaza’s food is bought locally. He said he plans on continuing to purchase local produce throughout the summer and integrate composting at the bar as well.
Mary Carbine, executive director of the Madison Business Improvement District, said the downtown has seen more involvement in the MPower program each year. She said the benefits of joining the program are great for business.
“There is a built-in incentive to do it,” Carbine said. “Not only is it good for the planet, it is good for your business and it helps you reduce costs in the long run and it helps show your customers that you care about the community.”
Hetue said he hopes the local customer base and the students on campus will notice the Plaza’s efforts to be more sustainable.
“I believe our clientele is mostly locals and students. Students are eco-friendly and we are hoping our eco-friendly people that live in Dane County will frequent us because of this,” he said.