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PLATTSMOUTH – Multiple Cass County businesses have given the green light to environmental projects that could yield healthy outcomes for both the planet and their pockets.

Representatives from 13 entities gathered at Southeast Community College Plattsmouth Learning Center Friday morning to discuss their participation in the Cass County Green Business Project. The goal of the endeavor is to encourage local businesses to conserve natural resources, protect the environment and prevent pollution.

Keep Cass County Beautiful (KCCB) Executive Director Linda Behrns and Richard Yoder, director of the Pollution Prevention Regional Information Center at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, joined forces to lead the venture. Plattsmouth Main Street Association, UNO’s Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) and Cass County Nebraska Economic Development Council (CCNEDC) were all partners on the project. They provided in-kind matching funds with marketing and other resources.

Behrns said she was grateful for the time and effort local companies spent working to create new environmental portfolios over the past 18 months.

“I’ve been really pleased with how this program has gone,” Behrns said. “These businesses have done a great job with this project, and we’re certainly hoping to expand the program to more businesses in the future. We’d like to bring as many people into this as we can.”

Plattsmouth businesses and organizations that were involved in the inaugural program included Plattsmouth Chamber of Commerce, Plattsmouth Main Street Association, Cass County Historical Society, John’s Appliance Sales and Service, Cass County Bank, Herban Coffee Lab, Plattsmouth State Bank, Main Street Jewelers, Plattsmouth Animal Hospital and Southeast Community College Plattsmouth Learning Center. KCCB, CCNEDC and NBDC members also came to Plattsmouth for Friday’s event.

Behrns said the United States Department of Agriculture provided a Rural Business Development Grant of $64,727 for the program in late 2016. Behrns and other KCCB members marketed the Cass County Green Business Project to multiple local organizations. They went to Plattsmouth, Louisville, Weeping Water, Eagle, Elmwood, Murdock, Greenwood and Union.

Project leaders encouraged businesses to track their energy and water consumption during the initial few months. The organizations incorporated Energy Star Portfolio Manager software into their operations to identify areas to reduce their environmental footprint. The procedures also helped the entities save money in areas such as heating, cooling, water and garbage.

Each organization developed an action plan for improvement during the project. Representatives also attended several workshops and on-site training sessions to help them reach their goals. NBDC members then crafted brochures for each business that included information about their progress.

“They’ve done a lot of really nice things,” Behrns said. “I think everyone involved with this has really enjoyed seeing what has come out of it. I think it proves that being environmentally friendly is not only good for the natural world, but it makes good business and economic sense as well.”

Some of the business achievements include:

* Cass County Historical Society employees have changed all of their electric lights to energy-efficient models at the downtown Plattsmouth museum. One employee rides her bicycle to and from work, and all trash produced at the museum is taken home to recycle.

* Cass County Bank recycles all of its plastic waste in order to reduce landfill consumption. The bank has installed energy-efficient lights and uses a paper shredding service to recycle any paper waste that is created.

* Southeast Community College Plattsmouth Learning Center mandates that all print-outs be double-sided to reduce the amount of used paper. The center is equipped with a paper shredder to boost recycling efforts, and its landlord added a high-efficiency furnace and air-conditioning unit.

* Plattsmouth State Bank recycles all of its shredded paper. Its downtown location also uses an environmentally-friendly amount of energy and water.

* John’s Appliance Sales and Service refurbishes and sells used appliances, which reduces the amount of objects that end up in landfills. It also recycles non-salvageable appliances, furnaces and air-conditioners along with all refrigerants, freon and mercury thermostats.

* Main Street Jewelers re-lamped the downtown building’s basement with energy-efficient lights. The business uses a fireplace in the winter to offset costs associated with heating its building, and it recycles many materials used during the day. These include batteries for watches and hearing aids.

* Herban Coffee Lab furnishes its restaurant with reused tables, chairs and tableware. The business also buys locally-grown products in order to reduce its transportation footprint on the environment.

Behrns said she feels similar types of stories are possible with other Cass County entities in the future. She said KCCB is planning to invest more time in the Cass County Green Business Project after the initial grant funding cycle is complete.

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