Central PA Chamber Grows Popular Energy Savings Program

In the rural heart of Pennsylvania is an 111-year-old chamber of commerce that is enthusiastically helping its member businesses benefit from energy savings and celebrating those members that are leading the charge.

With coal country on one side and a university town on the other, the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce hosts an increasingly popular annual competition that rewards businesses that are taking advantage of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and related practices.

President and CEO Bruce Smith Jr. sees the awards program as an opportunity to do what chambers of commerce do best: educate members about valuable new business practices, help make connections that save members money, and bring community and business members together.

“The program is growing and I want all our members to be a part,” said Smith. “It offers free PR and everyone wants that.”

The awards program began four years ago when Tea Jay Aikey, the Chamber’s Executive and Finance Assistant, encouraged businesses on Lawton Lane, where the Chamber is housed, to simply recycle. Many said they lacked the time or thought it would take too much effort.

That’s when Smith and Aikey realized their members would benefit from learning about energy savings and waste reduction practices. They began bringing in member businesses to demonstrate how these practices worked—and how much money members could save.

The chamber now asks members who wish to participate in the awards program nearly 30 questions about their efficiency, renewable energy, and transportation practices: something that, in itself, encourages members to think about how to save on energy.

“I was just checking our email this morning,” said Aikey, “and one of our local dentists told me he was considering installing solar. Our reminder to apply for an award got him thinking about it.”