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Some of the greenest companies in Ohio tell how they did it -- and why

Steve Melink of the Melink Corporation in Milford. Photos Ben French and Bob Perkoski
Steve Melink of the Melink Corporation in Milford. Photos Ben French and Bob Perkoski

Last month, Procter & Gamble announced it would work toward an ambitious goal over the next 20 plus years of using 100 percent renewable energy to power its plants, and reduce its consumer and manufacturing waste going to landfills to zero. No small feat for the world's largest consumer products company.

A few businesses in Ohio are well on their way toward such goals already, however. They are pioneers in green. Some of them were going green before green was trendy.

Following are five such businesses and their work toward keeping Ohio green.


This HVAC testing and balancing company based in Milford, just outside Cincinnati, often helps its customers achieve energy savings --  something it not only preaches, but practices.

Melink is on track to be one of the first companies in the state to reach zero net energy use by the end of this year. Founder Steve Melink made a commitment to achieve sustainability with his company more than five years ago, and he has rapidly implemented one of the most extensive sustainable business plans in Ohio.

"We stand to lose out on the next great economy if we don't start investing in renewable energy now," says Melink. "The demand for electricity is going to go through the roof. Changes are definitely coming our way."

A few of the milestones and steps his company has achieved include:

- LEED Platinum certification for the 30,000 square foot headquarters and manufacturing plant building. When the building was initially constructed in 2006, it was the first office building in the state to receive LEED Gold certification. Subsequent upgrades made it LEED Platinum.
- Geothermal heating and cooling system.
- Automated power monitoring.
- Low flow water faucets and toilets, which allow a 40 percent water savings over other buildings of similar size. Use of a septic system with leech fields eliminates the need for sewage line.
- A solar thermal system to minimize the need for gas heated water supply.
- A wind turbine for use at night when solar is not active.
- Use of biomass wood pellets for supplemental heating in a conference room and library to reduce need for electric heat.
- A program to recycle, re-use or compost 90 percent of employees' waste.
- Landscaping designed to be self-sufficient with little need for mowing or watering.
- Encouragement of the company's 100 employees to practice green lifestyles by biking or carpooling to work, and practicing energy savings at home.

Lube Stop

Founded in 1985, Lube Stop operates 37 oil change stores in the Cleveland, Akron and Canton areas and is the largest independent quick oil change business in the state. The company established a formal sustainability plan in 2007 that has earned it several top environmental awards, including the Governor's Award for Outstanding Environmental Stewardship in 2008.

Lube Stop President Tom Worley says the irony of a green company whose business is based on combustible engines and oil is not lost on him. "It's a novelty for a company in our business to make these efforts to change," he says. "The more I learn, the more I realize how important it is for us."

Here are some of the green achievements Lube Stop has attained:

- Lube Stop is one of the first quick lubes in the country to offer a re-refined (recycled) oil change service, which now represents more than 50 percent of the oil changes the company performs each year.
- The company was also one of the first to offer oil change discounts for hybrid cars.
- Lube Stop is the first Green Plus Certified quick oil change company in the U.S.
- The company has eliminated the use of more than 350,000 plastic oil bottles and 35,000 cardboard boxes annually by converting more of its oil inventory to bulk storage.
- Lube Stop will reduce its annual trash expense by more than 50 percent through a store-level recycling program implemented earlier this year.
- The company's Energy Use Policy, implemented this year, has reduced the company's electricity expense by 12.8 percent.

Owens Corning

Homeowners have looked to Owens Corning insulation to help them save energy at home, but they may not realize that the company is committed to saving energy and resources in its global operations as well.

Headquartered in Toledo, Owens Corning was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for 2010-2011, a widely recognized index made up of leading sustainable companies around the world. In addition, Owens Corning was also been named to Fortune magazine's list of "Most Admired Companies" for at least seven consecutive years.

Some of the ways Owens Corning has gone green is by reducing:

- Energy intensity of its operations by 13 percent from 2002 to 2009 with absolute usage down 31 percent.
- Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 16 percent and absolute emissions by 31 percent from 2002 to 2009.
- Nitrogen oxides emissions intensity by 39 percent with absolute reductions of 52 percent.
- Particulate matter emissions intensity  by 31 percent and absolute reductions by 47 percent from 2002 to 2009.
- Water use by 15 percent from 2002 to 2009.
- Waste sent to landfills by 35 percent.


As Ohio's leading supplier of green building products, Greenovate founder Tyler Steele believes in walking the walk, so to speak. He founded his Columbus based company in 2006 after spending years in the home renovation business.

During his years as a renovator, he often found it frustrating to be forced to look out of state to find green building materials. To solve the problem, he became a dealer for many of the products he was buying.

"We're in a niche market where people are committed to green," he says. "With everything we do we consider the environmental impact."

Here's how Greenovate works toward sustainability:

- Using energy efficient material wherever possible in historic building locations.
- Operating in a central location in downtown Columbus with easy access to foot traffic and public transportation; also centrally located within state of Ohio.
- Using energy efficient LED lighting wherever possible.
-  Using bio-diesel vehicles or bicycles for transportation.
- Recycling 90 percent of waste.
- Active participation in the local community through sponsorship of green initiatives and education programs.

Tremont Electric

Tremont's signature product, the nPower PEG, is one of the most inventive alternative power ideas to come to market. It uses the kinetic energy of an individual as he or she walks, runs or climbs, to produce electric power for portable devices like cell phones. The PEG, which went on sale in August, allows users to power up electronics without hooking up to the grid.

Tremont estimates that if every one of the 23.2 million Americans who carry hand-held electronic devices used the PEG to recharge their cell phones for an hour each day, instead of plugging into a wall outlet, they would reduce the amount of electricity needed from the grid by 25.4 million kilowatts. That's enough energy to power 21,000 households for an entire year.

Other ways the company is contributing to sustainability include:

- A buy-back offer that allows consumers to return old PEGs to Tremont for a discount on new merchandise. The company then re-furbishes the devices for donation to charity.
- Tapping suppliers close to home. Ninety percent of suppliers for PEG construction are located in Ohio for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in transportation and support of local job creation.
- Minimizing packing materials for the PEG by re-using bulk material packaging for parts and keeping box sizes to a minimum.
- Locating within a certified Small Business Administration HUBzone, which means it is an economically distressed area.
- Encouraging Tremont employees to live green lifestyles by carpooling or biking to work and recycling.

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