Climate Smart Champion Awards

2018 Climate Smart Champions

Climate Smart Glacier Country is pleased to announce the selection of the 2nd Annual Climate Smart Champions during a ceremony Saturday at the annual Earth Day Celebration in Whitefish. Awards were presented to businesses, youth and an individual who are leaders in building local solutions to climate change challenges.

“Earth Day is an appropriate time to honor the innovators who work to strengthen local resilience and build a clean energy future,” said Matt Folz, Vice Chairman of the Climate Smart Glacier Country. “These awards celebrate individuals, businesses, and students who are making a positive difference in the Flathead.”

Youth Category

Ms. Cassie McCann’s 6th Grade Fall 2017 Science Class at Whitefish Middle School developed a partnership with local business to display student posters about local climate solutions. Students selected a local business they regularly visit and designed posters with a few tips for customers to make sustainable choices at the business. The customized posters also included a succinct scientific explanation about the greenhouse gas effect.  Participating businesses include: Nelson’s Ace Hardware, Sage and Cedar, Loula’s, Village Shop, Buffalo Café, Stumptown Art Studio, Red Caboose, Toggery, Stumptown Snowboards, Jersey Boys, and Crystal Winters.

Business Category

Whitefish Lake Restaurant is a pioneer in local efforts to turn food waste into compost through a partnership with Dirt Rich LLC’s food scrap pick-up service. Owner Doug Reed says the restaurant has been pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to incorporate the waste diversion program into kitchen operations while saving money on weekly landfill fees.

Big Mountain Commercial Association has made life easier for skiers and the Earth with its S.N.O.W Bus program. The Shuttle Network of Whitefish (S.N.O.W.)reduces traffic and parking congestion while saving roughly 10,000 gallons of gas, equivalent to 100,000 pounds of coal that won’t be burned.

Individual Champion

Sierra McCartney was appointed to the Whitefish Climate Action Plan Committee by Mayor John Muhlfeld and volunteered her evenings and weekends to design and produce the 129-page plan. In addition to hundreds of hours devoted to the CAP, Sierra is a landscape designer for White Cloud Landscaping, where she helped design the gardens and landscaping for Whitefish Schools’ Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship (CSE).  The Whitefish Climate Action Plan was approved by the Whitefish School District in March and by the City Council on April 16.

2017 Climate Smart Champions

Business Category:

Climate Smart Entrepreneur of the Year: Alissa LaChance, Dirt Rich Composting of Columbia Falls. Alissa introduced a new business concept to the Flathead by collecting food waste from businesses, schools and families and converting it into rich topsoil for gardens.

Climate Smart Business Champion: ViZn Energy Systems, based in Columbia Falls, for developing a utility-grade energy storage system that uses stable, non-toxic batteries to balance out renewable energy production for times when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

Climate Smart Business Champion: Glacier Guides/Montana Raft Company, based in West Glacier, for sustainable practices and environmental leadership in the hospitality sector.

Youth Category

Climate Smart Youth – Individual: Caroline Dye, a Whitefish 9th grader. Caroline led a successful campaign to implement no-idling zones outside three Whitefish schools to keep kids safe from exhaust emissions. She also works with the Climate Smart Transportation Group to find no-idling solutions for diesel locomotives in the rail yard next to Whitefish Middle School

Climate Smart Youth – Group: Whitefish Middle School Student Council. The student council has led efforts to promote composting and recycling to reduce waste in the schools and has been active in the no-idling campaign.

Individual Leadership Category

Climate Smart Champion:  Diane Yarus, a Kalispell businesswoman. With her husband Bill, Diane owns Airworks, a heating and cooling service. She’s been a leader in local and regional programs to build clean energy systems and promote conservation. She is a Flathead Valley leader in encouraging young girls and women to enter technical fields.

Climate Smart Champion, Honorable Mention: Jeff Arcel, a Whitefish businessman. Through his company Aeon Renewable, Jeff is a pioneer in deploying renewable energy systems for individuals, businesses, and communities in the Flathead, including solar, wind and mini-hydro. He is a member of the Whitefish Climate Action Plan Committee.

Climate Smart Champion, Honorable Mention: Richard Cohen, a Whitefish electrician. He has led countless tours of his climate-smart home that utilizes passive design, renewable energy and energy-efficiency measures. He works with clients to install renewable energy systems and integrate energy-saving measures into new construction and retrofits.