Meet Ronnee Zilonis, assistant to the president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau.
The bureau was recently recertified as an Environmental Steward by the city. The certification is part of Annapolis' Clean and Green City initiative. To be eligible for the two-year certification, a business must earn enough points based on environmental best practices and pass a verification inspection.
For more information on the program, visit SustainableAnnapolis.com.
Greater Annapolis Patch: What are the green initiatives you have instituted for your business?
Ronnee Zilonis: (The bureau follows in-house sustainable business practices.)
We have added the following:
- Communicate through email—newsletters, announcements, invitations to all events are sent via email, Constant Contact or through our Internet destination sales system (IDSS).
- Recycle bins in all administrative offices and Visitors Center.
- Buy paper products and kitchen items in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
- Employees walk, use electric-powered ecruisers, or hop aboard the City Circulator to get around the central business district.
- Visitor Center volunteers encourage visitors to do the same.
- Use organic products, including Leaf Gro & pine mulch, for landscaping—instead of harmful or dangerous chemicals.
- Created a small rooftop garden. This season it will include herbs, as well as native perennial flowers and shrubs.
Future projects include:
- Installing storm windows throughout original part of building in 2012.
- Replacing our old recyclable, low-emitting carpeting with new in 2012.
Patch: Why did you decide to pursue your green efforts?
Zilonis: Our program was started before I joined the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau (AAACCVB). The footprints were easy the follow.
Adding a few extra steps each year seems like a natural process. It's a satisfying feeling to promote "being green." Once the word is out, others want to follow.
Patch: Other than cost, what are the biggest hurdles to using even more
green techniques in your business?
Zilonis: The biggest challenge is getting people to realize how easy it is to implement everyday green things. It's not always expensive. It's always evolving into something better.
Patch: If cost and time were not issues, what green technique would you
like to implement at your business?
Zilonis: I would like to install a true green roof. Green roofs make sense. They cut heating and cooling costs, reduce stormwater runoff, filter pollutants and are attractive.
Patch: If you had one wish to create a new green technique/initiative what
would it be and why?
Zilonis: Like most people, I'm always learning something new about being green. I think educating people about how they can become green is the most important initiative.
We all know that being green is a good thing, but sometimes we don't realize just how important, how crucial it is. Education needs to start when children are very young.
That way, being green becomes a lifestyle.