SAN RAFAEL -- The City of San Rafael, Dominican University of California and the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce have teamed up with Natural Capitalism Solutions, a nonprofit that consults businesses on greening strategies, to form a partnership aimed at providing businesses with affordable measures for creating sustainable practices.

Known as Greening for Profit, the partnership is specifically being offered to smaller businesses in Marin County that might otherwise not be able to afford the level of consulting that Natural Capitalism provides. The Colorado-based nonprofit typically works with Fortune 500 companies, but through the partnership, it will offer its consulting at a significantly lower price to employers in Marin, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Marin Community Foundation. A four-day training session typically costs $4,000 but will be offered for a fraction of that, at $1,300, and day-and-a-half-long workshops geared toward smaller businesses will cost $400, according to Bob Brown, a spokesman for Greening for Profit.

"One is sort of a deeper dive, and the other is a little lighter -- what we call a 'smart start,'" Mr. Brown said. "The idea is that smaller businesses that can't devote as much time, it's kind of a good alternative for them."  The workshops can accommodate 20 businesses, while the longer "Master's Program" can accommodate eight businesses (the program has already conducted sessions with eight Marin County businesses, among them the YMCA, the City of San Rafael, Marin Academy and Harney Construction).

Small to medium-sized business, from five to 300 employees, will be the target group for sessions that have the express purpose of strengthening company bottom lines by highlighting inefficient practices. Greening for Profit is designed to help employers discover unrecognized opportunities to streamline and in turn save money, according to proponents.

"Many businesses are leaving money on the table," said Hunter Lovins, a coach with Natural Capitalism and an alumni of Dominican's Green MBA program. "In these workshops, participants get practical information as strategic guidance to capture those savings."

The grant from Marin Community Foundation will initially subsidize the workshops and sessions for 36 Marin County businesses. At first,  Natural Capitalism will conduct the workshops, but the program eventually hopes to transition to the control of Dominican University Green MBA students, Mr. Brown said.

"Dominican’s ’s Green MBA students will be trained as assistant coaches, and will take over the course and will run it themselves as a consultancy," he said.

Greening for Profit hopes to make businesses more profitable by reducing energy and water use; increasing employee productivity; attracting new customers and having a peer network of business working together.

Targeted industries that could benefit include, but are not limited to, family owned businesses, food processors and independent restaurants, manufacturing and assembly, distribution and transportation, hospitality and assisted living. 

More information can be found at