Case Studies

We work with many amazing local companies making the connection between economic and environmental sustainability. We also have the good fortune of employing talented student interns from UC Santa Barbara to work with businesses to develop case studies showcasing their impressive achievements.

The case studies below are a small sample of what our certified businesses have accomplished. We will continue to highlight additional businesses here. If you have a suggestion for a future case study, please let us know!

Luis OASIS Senior Center

Green Business Case Study: Luis OASIS Senior Center

Luis OASIS Senior Center


Green House Gas Emissions Saved: 33,454 kg CO2
Water Saved: 101,547 gallons
Natural Gas Saved: 1,962 therms
Electricity Saved: 33,438 kWh
Dollars Saved: $8,312

The Business Greening Story
Sustainability makes good business sense

The OASIS Senior Center, standing for Orcutt Area Seniors in Service, was established in 1984 with a mission of providing adults with social, educational and cultural opportunities aimed at improving their quality of life. Seniors come to the center for activities including ukulele practice (above), aerobics, ceramics, knitting and much more.

The center is in constant use, hosting activities for over 700 of its members and serving as a meeting space for a number of community groups. With so much going on, utilities are a significant expense for OASIS. Since joining the Green Business Program, OASIS has seen a steady decrease in electricity, gas and water use per activity.

oasis2Some of the initiatives that have helped OASIS reduce their water consumption include drought tolerant landscaping as well as toilet and faucet retrofits. They have been able to reduce electricity use by upgrading to more efficient lighting and by holding staff training sessions focused on energy conservation.

Another major component of the program has been purchasing products that have less of an environmental impact. OASIS no longer uses Styrofoam containers and only purchases office paper that is made from 100% recycled content. This helps reduce the amount of waste being sent to the landfill as well as reduces the demand for primary materials.

Taking Advantage of the Green Business Certification

Some of the main benefits of the program according to the Executive Director, Doug Dougherty, are staying ahead of the curve in terms of cost savings and environmental impacts.
Some of the main benefits of the program according to the Executive Director, Doug Dougherty, are staying ahead of the curve in terms of cost savings and environmental impacts.

As a non-profit organization, the OASIS Senior Center relies heavily on grant funding in order to operate. When applying for grants, being certified as a Green Business is an important consideration because it shows supporters that OASIS is committed to the environment as well as to their members and the local community.

An increase in both members and activities has caused the center to outgrow its current building and they will soon begin construction of a new facility. The Green Business Certification has helped OASIS establish a number of resource conservation measures which can be incorporated into the design of the new buildings.

The amount of money, resources and emissions saved

Savings are based on utility usage per activity before and after joining the program over a span of 2.5 years

33 454 kg
33, 438 kWh
1,562 therms
101,547 Gallons
$ 8,312


“I’m thrilled to see the numbers trending the way they are. It really makes a difference.”

Doug Dougherty
Executive Director of Luis OASIS Senior Center

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Saved

The Luis OASIS Senior Center has saved 33,454 kg of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere as a result of joining the program. That’s the equivalent of planting 858 tree seedlings and letting them grow for 10 years.

Electricity Saved

OASIS has saved 33,438 kWh of electricity with a total savings of $5,959.

Natural Gas Saved

Since joining the Green Business Program in 2012, OASIS has saved 1,961 therms of natural gas with a total savings of $1,789.

Water Saved

OASIS has saved 101,547 gallons of water with a total savings of $563. That’s almost as much water as the average US family uses in a year.

Dollars Saved

From reductions in water, electricity and gas use, OASIS has saved $8,312 over the course of 2.5 years in the Green Business Program.

Green Business Case Study: UCSB Dining Services


Water Saved: 332,805 gallons
Water Cost Savings: $2,197
Electricity Saved: 92,811 kWh
Electricity Cost Savings: $10,674
Natural Gas Saved: 3,968 therms
Natural Gas Cost Savings: $2,460
Total Dollars Saved: $15,331 per year

The Business Greening Story

ucsb2For decades, the UCSB Dining Commons have committed themselves to being trailblazers in the arena of sustainable business practices and “earth-friendly” dining. Starting in the late 90’s, they have made monumental progress by implementing strong recycling campaigns, introducing locally grown and organic produce, removing trays to reduce food and water waste, and converting to fair-trade coffee and cage-free eggs.

To continue its sterling reputation for sustainable efforts, in 2011 Soteris Nicolaou, the General Manager of Carrillo Dining Common, and Mark Rousseau, the Energy and Environmental Manager, sought to certify the dining commons as a Green Business.

During the certification process, all of the previous initiatives were brought together and assessed on one long check-list to ensure that the measures that were being taken complied with California Green Businesses. Nicolaou remarked how, “the certification was a foundation, something to put it all together.” Previously, the managers partnered with other departments individually to work on sustainability initiatives but “didn’t have a list that would get us all together.” Consequently, the general compliance standards allowed them to easily and efficiently certify as much of the business as they could from every angle.

Taking Advantage of the Green Business Certification

While the dining commons were already well beyond the necessary requirements for the certification, the Green Business Program’s step-by-step checklist program still facilitated significant reductions to their environmental impact and utility bills. For example, by updating equipment such as steamers and pre-rinse spray nozzles, over 300,000 gallons of water were saved. Updating fryers, ovens, and steamers saved almost 4,000 therms of natural gas, which is similar to cutting 21 metric tons of CO2 equivalent from the environment.

46% of the dining common’s fresh produce is grown on local farms (within 250 miles), over 25% is organic and/or sustainably grown without pesticides, and 38% of total food purchases are considered sustainable.

While many alterations were large equipment changes, the greatest monetary reduction for the dining commons came from the easy and low-hanging fruit of switching kitchen light fixtures from incandescent to LED or fluorescent bulbs. Ortega Dining Common was a leader in cost savings by reducing 48,546 kWh of electricity and saving $5,583 annually.

Ultimately, the lighting changes resulted in a total electricity savings of $10,674 per year for the dining commons, and are a testament to the fact that small changes can make a big difference.

The UCSB Dining Services are determined to continue their efforts towards sustainability in the future. Mark Rousseau emphasized that with green initiatives, it is often easiest to grab that low-hanging fruit; however, we often forget that as the tree grows, there will always be new fruit growing at the bottom. “The students challenge me now.
They want more and more, and ask for new things constantly which requires us to be leaders in sustainability.” The dining commons are already looking for new and challenging campaigns like Meatless Mondays, and will continue to push the envelope as hard as they can to be an example for other businesses.

“This program was an eye-opener. It helped us to put it all together and has been a great tool for us.”

Soteris Nicolaou
General Manager of Carrillo

Green Business Case Study: Santa Ynez Valley Marriott


Water baseline (2008): 10.9 million gallons Water saved: 10.4%
Water cost savings (per room): 10.2%
Electricity baseline (2008): 1,990 kW
Electricity saved: 6.7%
Electricity cost savings (per room): 10%
Natural gas baseline (2008): 113,930 therms
Natural gas saved: <1%
Natural gas cost savings (per room): 38%1
Money saved (per year): $15,000 to $20,000

1Significant decreases in the cost of natural gas lead to these savings.

The Business Greening Story
Sustainability makes good business sense

First and foremost, Mike Hendrick, General Manager of the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is a businessman. When he signed up to participate in the Santa Barbara County Green Business Program, it was to save money. What he did not expect was how the program would change his mind about running a sustainable business, one that protects the planet, people, and profit.

Since entering the program in February 2009, the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott has taken measures to conserve water and energy, reduce how much solid waste and pollution it generates, and make more environmentally friendly purchasing decisions. The hotel gained its certification in November 2009, but it continues to implement changes today — making it not only Santa Barbara County’s first certified Green Hotel, but also one of the leading Green Businesses in the area.

“I think landscaping has got to be our biggest change,” says Hendrick. “We embarked on a very aggressive landscaping program where we removed about 80 percent of our existing landscaping — such as non-grass areas, bushes and shrubs — and replaced those with the native stuff.”

To help manage what little irrigation the hotel does use, landscapers installed a simple rain sensor, costing just $24. The property also now boasts 10 young apple trees that will soon be producing fruit for the hotel’s staff and guests. Since certification, the hotel has taken out another lawn and replaced it with a bocce ball court.

Other water saving changes in the guest rooms include installing low-flow faucets in all of the bathrooms (low-flow shower heads were already installed), adjusting the toilets to reduce them to 1.3 gallons per flush from 1.6 gallons, and providing informational cards in all of the rooms to remind guests how much water is saved by reusing towels.

marriott-thermostatAlthough the water-saving initiatives have been the most expensive changes (once completed the landscaping alterations will cost $10,000 to $12,000), they also reaped the most impressive results. In 2009, the hotel used a staggering 1.3 million gallons less water than it did in 2007 and is saving over $7,000 a year on water.

The Santa Ynez Valley Marriott has also been making strides in energy reduction. Through a program offered by PG&E, the hotel replaced over 280 lighting fixtures for free. Through this retrofit, the lighting throughout the hotel is now 40 percent more efficient. Installing programmable thermostats in the guest rooms, decreasing water heating temperature, and insulating major hot water pipes led to further efficiency gains. These changes resulted in over 10 percent reduction in electricity cost per room, and over 38 percent reduction in gas cost per room in 2009.

To keep staff involved, Hendrick posts the monthly utility consumption on the bulletin board in the employee area. The hotel’s staff is also encouraged to conserve energy by carpooling; each day an employee carpools, his or her name is entered into a monthly raffle for a gift card of their choice.

To address waste generation, the hotel has been making many small changes in the way it does business. One easy change was to stop printing certain weekly reports; they are now emailed and one copy is posted on the bulletin board. The hotel is working to emulate this practice for nightly reports, potentially saving over 650 sheets of paper per day. In addition, blue recycling bins dot the property, and staff and hotel patrons alike are greatly encouraged to recycle. Hendrick knows that “If you can involve your guests in what you’re doing, it’s going to be successful.”
The hotel is also focusing on environmentally preferable purchasing to directly and indirectly minimize the waste going to landfill. As an example, all of the paper items used in the rooms is now made of recycled content. And the health club, remodeled in June 2010, boasts a floor made of recycled tires.

The Santa Ynez Valley Marriott is pleased with the results of the program. “When we’re all done with this, we’ll probably be saving an average of $15,000 to $20,000 a year through a reduction in energy use, waste generation with trash pickups, water usage, copy paper reduction, etc.,” Hendrick says. “I’m a conservative guy. I think that business people should run their businesses the way they see fit, and this is a good business decision.”

“I’m a conservative guy. I think that business people should run their business the way they see fit, and this is a good business decision.”

Mike Hendrick

Green Business Case Study: The Towbes Group


Water baseline (per month): 20,800 gallons
Water saved (per month): 8,500 gallons
Water cost savings: 41%
Electricity baseline (per month): 19,300 kWh
Electricity saved (per month): 4,900 kWh
Electricity cost savings: 25%
Waste diversion rate (prior to certification): 33%
Waste diversion rate (after certification): 71%
Waste efficiency improvement: 38%

Green Business Case Study
Sustainability makes good business sense

The Towbes Group has a motto – “do the right thing, even when no one is looking.” The company’s commitment to integrity, quality and sustainability has made it a leader in real estate investment, development and property management for over 50 years. After achieving certification from the Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County in July of 2010, Towbes Development Project Manager Craig Minus hopes that the Santa Barbara community will be paying attention. He is especially proud of the internal changes that significantly reduced energy costs and minimized the company’s environmental footprint.

Like many other businesses, the Towbes Group wanted to make a difference, but lacked the resources to do so. The Green Business Program facilitated a step-by-step program to reduce the company’s environmental impact and utility bills. Prior to certification, the corporate office consumed over 19,000 kWh of electricity per month. The company was able to take advantage of Southern California Edison’s Energy Management Assistance Program, which allows businesses to have their lighting replaced for free. “Changing the light bulbs was a no brainer,” Craig said, “You can do a lot in your daily actions.”

The Towbes Group installed these new LED overhead lights in their conference room. They continue to investigate new technology options for lighting office spaces.

The Towbes Group also installed programmable thermostats in order to improve energy efficiency and office comfort, and replaced the corporate office’s old air conditioning system with an evaporative cooler and economizer. Craig noted that more than ever, employees are making a concerted effort to turn off lights and other electronic devices when they are not being used. The result was a 25 percent decrease in the company’s costs for energy.

Towbes employees also took the initiative to overhaul their waste management system. “We had recyclables flowing over the recycling bins into the trash bins,” Craig said.
By increasing the number of recycling bins and reducing the number of trash bins (which cost five times more), the company saved $192 a month.

The Towbes Group’s corporate office also tackled water consumption. The largest change came from older, high water use toilets to high-efficiency 1.28 gallons per flush toilets. This change helped reduce water use by more than 8,500 gallons per month and cut the company’s bill by 41 percent.

Company employees also decided to vote with their dollars and purchase products that were manufactured with sustainability in mind. They switched from normal printing paper to recycled-content paper. They also transformed their break room by replacing outdated paper plates and cups with reusable ones. The company is determined to continue its efforts towards sustainability. According to Craig, “We hope to pass the newfound culture onto other businesses and clients.”

You may see the Towbes Group staff cruising about in their electric car, known around the office as “Towbie.” Their efforts have been so successful that they have inspired the company to seek certifications through the Green Business Program for a number of their commercial and residential properties.

“Changing the light bulbs was a no brainer. You can do a lot in your daily actions.”

Craig Minus

UCSB Community Affairs BoardThank you to UCSB’s Community Affairs Board for generous grant funds that allowed us to hire 5 UCSB student interns in 2015!