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Werner Electric walks the environmental talk, receives sustainability award

John Mertes (from left), Ben Granley, president of Werner Electric, and Randy Moberg and Brian Bakalyar were among employees who accepted the company’s first Sustainable City Award. Mertes, Moberg and Bakalyar work in the renewable energy services and solutions department. (Submitted photo)

Selling “green” products has not only been a lucrative business for Werner Electric in Cottage Grove, it is also a companywide mantra that recently earned it the inaugural Sustainable City Award.

A purveyor of a variety of clean energy solutions, Werner Electric isn’t just talking the talk, as representatives said, they are practicing what they preach.

“It’s just the kind of culture that we promote and live at Werner, we want to walk the talk,” said Brian Bakalyar, renewable energy specialist. “We sell the most efficient LED light bulbs and we use them in our facility. We sell the wind turbines and the solar module systems but we also use them.”

It’s the dedication to reducing its carbon footprint that awarded Werner Electric the city’s first-ever accolade in a new program that recognizes those who are taking up the “Go Green” initiative.

While cashing in on the sale of renewable energy products and services, the company is also using its knowledge to give back to the community. Bakalyar helped start the company’s Werner Clean and Green Team, a 12-member committee carrying out a number of environmentally friendly actions in Cottage Grove.

Bakalyar said the team held a cleanup day at Hamlet Park and collected more than 30 pounds of garbage. The company started an eco-tote program which allows customers with high-volume orders to use plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes. In 2012 alone the eco-tote program saved around 5,400 cardboard boxes.

City Engineer Jennifer Levitt, who leads the recognition program, said the combined efforts Werner Electric is undertaking to reduce its carbon footprint made the company an exemplary candidate for the Sustainable City Award.

“They are a very well-rounded, environmentally focused business and they demonstrate exactly what we were looking for,” she said.

The inaugural award is just the beginning for Werner Electric, Bakalyar said. As technologies advance, he said the company is going to continue to stay on the cutting-edge of sustainability.

“We want to strive to win this award again and again,” Bakalyar said. “This isn’t something that is done and we wash our hands. We want to keep doing more. It makes business sense to be environmentally friendly.”