Green America’s “People & Planet Award” recognized three small businesses for their dedication to creating a green economy. Clean Energy was the theme of this round of People and Planet Awards, and the winners of the $5000 prize were: Arcadia Power in Washington, D.C., Ryter Cooperative Industries in Detroit, MI and Cromwell Solar in Lawrence, KS.

We know that climate change is among the worst problems confronting the U.S. and the world,” said Fran Teplitz, Green America’s executive co-director. “While dirty energy from the fossil fuel industry is a major driver of climate change, this award reminds us that even acting locally can have a positive global impact. Green America is honored to recognize these American companies that are fueling the future.”

Meet the Winners of Green America’s People & Planet Award

  • Arcadia Power is the first nationwide clean energy platform giving people access to 100 percent pollution-free energy via their local utility bill. The majority of Americans can’t have on-site solar energy on their roof, so Arcadia’s proprietary energy service connects online utility accounts with a clean energy purchasing platform, importing all the energy data and displaying it on a web dashboard with information on savings and impact.
  • Ryter Cooperative Industries provides real clean energy engineering solutions to under-represented communities. RCI’s first project was to find a way to provide clean and renewable energy for a Detroit urban farm by upcycling a used 40-foot shipping container and 10 donated solar panels from a local fabrication lab designing, building, and installing a 3-kilowatt solar power station out of these materials for the farm in partnership with Detroit Black Food Security Network.
  • Cromwell Solar is a family-owned alternate energy firm working to increase access to solar for populations in our region. To survive in an area without much of a solar market, Cromwell Solar has developed a culture of solar education and innovation, holding talks and workshops across the state. Cromwell believes, if people do not understand solar, they will not install it.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our commitment to clean energy and plan to use the award to fast-track our nationwide on-bill energy efficiency program,” said Kiran Bhatraju, CEO of Arcadia Power. “The new program will give all Arcadia Power members access to zero-down home efficiency products, with zero-percent financing for premium members. We want to make it easy for everyone to make sustainable energy choices.”

“We are honored to be a winner of the Green America’s People and Planet Award,” said Ali Dirul, founder and executive director of Ryter Cooperative Industries. “We plan to use this award to continue expansion of our projects in green energy around the state of Michigan and to grow our capacity to fulfill the engineering of more unique community-based clean energy projects in the very near future.”

“Cromwell Solar is honored to be the first Kansas firm to win this award. We will now begin raising the remaining funds needed to perform a study to prove the economic benefits of solar so that regulators and the public can see both sides of the solar story – not just what the utilities choose to present,” said Cromwell Solar CEO Aron Cromwell. 

The theme for the next round of Green America’s award will be announced in the spring.

The People & Planet Award recognizes innovative U.S. small businesses that integrate environmental and social considerations into their strategies and operations. The winners were selected by the public during a month-long online voting period.

The businesses that the public vote on are determined by public nominations and an expert panel of judges: Gigi Abbadie, Aveda; Justin Conway, Calvert Foundation; Tess O’Brien, Clean Power Perks, Jennifer Snyder, Clif Bar; Erlene Howard, Collective Resource, Inc., Dale Luckwitz, Happsy.com;  Jonathan Reinbold, Organic Valley; Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation; and Andrew Korfhage and Fran Teplitz, both of Green America.

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