General Articles
2016 BEST Green Business: Clear Blue Commercial / by William Rohrs / May, 2016

"We're a small but mighty group." —Carolyn Pistone


Carolyn Pistone, president and managing director at Petaluma’s Clear Blue Commercial, voted Best Green Business in the 2016 NorthBay biz Best Of reader’s poll, managed to justify massages on a budgetary report for one of her clients.

“Of course, it would seem a little absurd to think we could get away with it. But when the client looked at the rest of the budget, they understood and applauded how we managed the project and kept costs down,” she says.

The project itself was to make improvements to a Petlaluma property to cut water and energy costs. Pistone drafted an action plan to save money for the business in both the long and short term. “The campus itself had 65,000 square feet of lawn and a vacant building. Initially, a plan to uproot the lawn and replace it with mulch and compost would have cost the client $250,000 in materials and contractor fees, and the project would pay for itself in water costs over 40 years,” she said. “We could do better.”

Clear Blue sent a call to action to the community, and it answered with vigor. One hundred and fifty volunteers spent a Saturday uprooting the lawn and replacing it with cardboard, compost and mulch donated by the city of Petaluma. Clear Blue set up food and water stations, live music and masseurs to keep spirits high throughout the one-day project.

“All in all, the project cost $75,000 and we’ve saved 1.6 million gallons of water annually,” says Pistone.

A full-service commercial management and leasing company, Clear Blue Commercial’s eight personstaff specializes in saving energy and water costs to the benefit of its clients. “Some of the costs are immediate, like more efficient air conditioning, better lighting or reduced water use. In the long term, think about LED lighting. LED lights don’t burn out and use significantly less electricity than their flourescent counterparts. In a 100,000-square-foot building, the electric bill can break into five figures, so lighting is critical to its bottom line. We’re dedicated to bringing those costs down and helping the environment in the process,” says Pistone.

Clear Blue promotes the idea that green business isn’t more expensive than the wasteful alternative. “Looking at immediate costs of raw materials and the higher price tag for green products looks intimidating at first,” says Pistone. “But when we quietly add improvements over the long term, the savings more than make up for the investment.”

Pistone adds finding new tenants for existing buildings can cost up to 10 times more than improving the environment for a current tenant. “We pride ourselves on being a high-touch high-service organization with a 100% tenant retention record.”

On winning the award, Pistone says, “We’re so grateful, especially to the NorthBay biz readers. This is the award we cherish above all others. It tells us this community is giving back to us everything we give to it. We’ll continue to find ways to grow and collaborate with businesses wanting to go green. We’re never satisfied with our pace, and we’ll foster a greater community impact. We are a small but mighty group.”