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Better Business Challenge Announces Awards for Climate Leadership

Chamber President Elizabeth Cromwell presents a Better Business Champion award to High Tor Gear Exchange. Photo by Charlottesville Climate Collaborative.
Chamber President Elizabeth Cromwell presents a Better Business Champion award to High Tor Gear Exchange. Photo by Charlottesville Climate Collaborative.

The Charlottesville Climate Collaborative hosted the 2018-2019 Better Business Challenge Awards Night at the Paramount Theater June 20, culminating a yearlong collective effort that brought nearly 100 local businesses and nonprofits together to reduce their climate impacts.

These organizations have demonstrated a level of climate leadership that proves local businesses can do good while being profitable. Collectively participants took over 500 actions, that will save them over half a million dollars annually on energy costs and avoid 4,260 metric tons of CO2 which is equal to the CO2 emissions from 743 homes’ electricity use!

Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Elizabeth Cromwell took part in the celebration as a guest presenter.

The Chamber congratulates all of the award winners and participants for their commitment to climate leadership, especially our Chamber members:

Albemarle Housing Improvement Program; Albemarle County Public Schools; Albemarle County Service Authority; Angelic's Kitchen and Catering LLC; Building Goodness Foundation; Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors; Castle Hill; CATEC; CFA Institute; City of Charlottesville; Colonial Nissan; Design Electric Inc.; Festive Fare Rentals; Hantzmon Wiebel LLP; Harvest Moon Catering; Martin Horn; Miller School of Albemarle; The Nature Conservancy; Pearl Island Foods LLC; Sigora Solar; St. Anne's-Belfield School; Sun Tribe Solar; Towe Insurance Service Inc.; United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area; Waste Management; WillowTree, Inc.; Woodard Properties

Click here to see the event photo gallery


2019 Better Business Champions Earned the most total points from taking actions on the Energy Scorecard (ordered large to small-size organizations). Listed below are one action of many that each winner completed.

Albemarle County Public Schools – Completed large-scale energy and water efficiency upgrades that will save $720,000 annually.

Southern Environmental Law Center – Inspired numerous sustainability initiatives across eight offices in six states.

Peabody School – Students wrote speeches and presented their climate call to action at the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Sun Tribe Solar – Launched a bike-to-work incentive program for employees.

Peace Lutheran Church – Energy and lighting assessments helped the Care of Creation team prioritize energy savings at their facility.

High Tor Gear Exchange – Used their A/C condensation to water the plants in their storefront while they pursue “B-corporation” status (legal business model structured around social benefit rather than profits).

Kilowatt Crackdown Winner Recognizes the largest reduction in electricity based on comparison of utility bills from 2018 to 2019.

Peabody School – Cut their electricity use by 44% with solar panel installation and LED lighting upgrade.

Top Innovator Award Business that stands out for overcoming a significant challenge resulting in a positive environmental impact.

WorldStrides - Worked closely with vendors, tour guides, and hotels to incorporate a recycling program for 37,000+ box meals delivered to ~150,000 D.C. student trip-goers.

Industry Leader Award Implemented a transformative action that has the potential to lead an industry forward.

Indoor Biotechnologies – Replaced non-recyclable Styrofoam containers to temperature controlled VeriCool containers that use 100% recyclable and biodegradable material.

Lasting Changemaker Award Instituted an environmental action that will have a lasting impact.

VMDO Architects – 50% energy reduction in the buildings they designed in 2018 helping to meet the AIA 2030 net-zero building challenge.

Challenge Mini-grant Winners Income-qualifying Charlottesville city business owners received energy efficient goods and/or services (listed) totaling $3,000.00.

Pie Guy – Lighting upgrade and electrical switch replacement to decrease heating and cooling costs in their kitchen.

Sealed with a Kiss – Lighting upgrade in retail bridal attire store.

LG’s Elixir – Energy Star dishwasher/sanitizer and signage for drink bottle recycling program.

Jackson 2 Hair Salon – LED lighting upgrade at salon.


The Better Business Challenge is an initiative led by the Charlottesville Climate Collaborative a local nonprofit organization in partnership with LEAP, Better World Betty, City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Chamber of Commerce, UVA Office of Sustainability, and 2RW Consultants.

93 participants including Hantzmon Wiebel, UVA Research Park, Firefly Restaurant, The Haven, Worldstrides, The Miller School, and Kardinal Hall joined to examine their energy use, find ways to reduce their consumption and innovate in other ways to be a more sustainable business. Participants racked up as many points as possible before submitting their final scorecards on May 15, 2019. (See the full list of participants here)

Awards Night Sponsors include CMA’s Colonial Nissan, Sun Tribe Solar, City of Charlottesville, County of Albemarle, Apex Clean Energy, Sigora Solar, Harvest Moon Catering, VMDO Architects, CFA Institute, and the Blue Ridge Group.

What people have said about the 2018-2019 Better Business Challenge:

“The Better Business Challenge provides the perfect environment for Charlottesville businesses to demonstrate their commitment to the environment. This collective effort helps set the Charlottesville business community apart as a place that values more than the traditional bottom line.” -- Chris Engel, Director of Economic Development, City of Charlottesville

“The Better Business Challenge is successful because it equips businesses with the knowledge and skills necessary to properly consider climate impacts - it enables companies to innovate while remaining focused on their core business. That’s a win-win for the community.” --Roger Johnson, Director of Economic Development, County of Albemarle

“The Challenge inspires our employees and company to find ways, even if small, to advance our sustainability efforts while creating new habits and standards for our operations.” --Taylor Cope, Operations Manager, Indoor Biotechnologies

“We are making the Earth more of a priority in our choices and habits at school. This Challenge started this movement.” --Amy Lastinger, Environmental Science Teacher 4th/ 5th Grade, Peabody School


CONTACT: Teri Kent, Director of Programs and Communication, Charlottesville Climate Collaborative, at (434) 466-5157.