PORTLAND – Stonyfield Farm President and CEO Gary Hirshberg thinks “green” business practices are not only good for the environment, but also good for businesses’ bottom line.

That’s the message Hirshberg, who has headed the Londonderry, N.H., organic yogurt maker since 1983, is expected to deliver in a speech this morning to about 100 local businesspeople at the Portland Regency Hotel.

“Going green is a strategy not just for the planet, but for saving your business and creating jobs,” Hirshberg said Thursday in a telephone interview. He has already given similar speeches at events in Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, N.Y.

The event, called “Stirring it Up: How to Make Money and Save the World,” is part of Time Warner Cable’s Accelerating Your Business speaker series.

Hirshberg, whose company also owns Stonyfield Cafe in Falmouth, said some businesspeople wrongly think environmentally friendly practices are too costly for businesses struggling in the difficult economy.

“It’s a total misperception. It is simply not so,” he said.

Hirshberg said “going green” is a process of “attacking” wasteful practices and boosting efficiencies, things all businesses should be doing. He said such practices are particularly critical in upstate New York and in cities like Portland, where people are struggling to make ends meet and where businesses face “deep difficulties” and are “gasping for oxygen.”

Green business practices don’t just benefit large corporations, Hirshberg said. They also help small-business owners — those who he said are “going to revitalize the economies of Maine and New Hampshire.”

Hirshberg said that in the past 18 years, Stonyfield has seen 23 percent compounded annual growth. Since 1983, the company has expanded from a seven-cow farming school to a dairy company with $360 million in annual revenue and operations in Canada and Europe.

He attributes some of that success to sustainable business practices, which he said have helped Stonyfield save more than $7.8 million since 2006.

For example, the company saves money by shipping yogurt to Western states on trains, which are much more efficient than trucks. The company also has cut energy costs by converting yogurt waste into biogas, which helps fuel Stonyfield’s plant.

Hirshberg is former executive director of the New Alchemy Institute, an organic farming, aquaculture and renewable energy research group, and was environmental education director of the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge near Baring, southwest of Calais in Aroostook County.

He is author of the 2008 book “Stirring it Up: How to Make Money and Save the World.”

Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or:

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