Naples certifies its first 'green' business in year-long push

— Bamboo Cafe in Naples has another specialty on the menu besides French home-cooking.

The restaurant on Crayton Cove has qualified to become Naples' first certified green business — a milestone along the city's path to becoming a more sustainable place to live.

Taking steps to earn the certification sped up a process owner-chef Lisa Boet already had started by stocking her menu with locally grown produce and sustainably caught seafood, she said.

"It just sort of naturally evolved," Boet said.

Naples has set a goal of certifying 25 green businesses as the city enters the homestretch of a year-long community outreach program to teach residents and business owners how to save energy, water and money.

With a $125,000 federal economic stimulus grant through the state, the city hired consultant TwentyFifty in May to try to reach more than 5,000 residents with the sustainability message.

TwentyFifty founder Cloe Waterfield plans to update the Naples City Council on the city's progress at a Monday workshop at City Hall.

"Things are starting to take off," Naples Natural Resources Manager Mike Bauer said Friday.

Naples' sustainability push has had to carefully navigate around the climate change debate and instead frame energy conservation as a pocketbook issue.

In 2007, the City Council narrowly approved the city's signing a non-binding U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Naples City Council meets at 8:30 a.m. Monday at City Hall, Eighth Street South.

Today, the city's Npower program is facing similar resistance from Naples Councilman Sam Saad, who said Friday he is leery of the program.

Saad said it smacks of government money being used to tell people how to live their lives, even if he agrees with the ultimate goal.

"I don't know if government dollars need to be spent doing it," said Saad, who planned to ask City Manager Bill Moss for an audit of how the money has been spent.

In October, TwentyFifty rolled out a website called Npower, claimed Npower's spot on Facebook and Twitter, developed a monthly email newsletter and plans to mail 11,000 educational brochures and create how-to videos to post to YouTube.

"We're really just trying to stress common sense," Waterfield said.

She said she is working with condominiums on Gulf Shore Boulevard, St. John's Episcopal Church and the NCH Healthcare System to boost the ranks of the city's certified green businesses.

Bamboo Cafe in Naples is operated by Lisa and Philippe Boet. Tristan Spinski/Staff

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI

Bamboo Cafe in Naples is operated by Lisa and Philippe Boet. Tristan Spinski/Staff

Boet, the Bamboo Cafe co-owner with her husband, Philippe, said it takes some extra effort but can be good for business.

"In the end it's got to make sense from a business standpoint," she said.

Bamboo Cafe recycles its cooking oil to a biodiesel producer and uses recyclable or compostable takeout boxes instead of Styrofoam containers.

Signs in the rest rooms remind customers and employees to turn out the lights and not leave taps running in the kitchen. Boet also is updating lighting with energy efficient fixtures.

The restaurant uses small water glasses at the table; a blurb in the menu tells diners they'll get a refill only if they ask for one.

Once the city delivers the certified green business window decal to Bamboo Cafe, restaurant-goers will know they're going to be getting some green with their meal before they even order.

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