One of the questions that I get asked often as a Green Business Consultant is about the benefits of Green Business Certification. After all, the certification process takes time and effort to complete. Is it worth it?
I would say so, and with close to 600 certified businesses, many would agree! These are some of the benefits to going through the process to become a Certified Green Business:
- Align your business with your values. Most owners of Certified Green Businesses go through the certification process because they already believe that minimizing their environmental impact is the right thing to do. Green Business Certification becomes an extension of their values and helps them to make sure that they are doing all that they can to green their business.
- Use a framework to green your business. Having worked with countless small businesses on green business initiatives, I find that many small business owners lack a comprehensive strategy. Often, some important pieces might be in place (such as waste reduction through comprehensive recycling) while other important pieces (such as water conservation) are overlooked. The Green Business Program (GBP) provides a framework that ensures that a business is looking at its impact in all the key areas (waste reduction, energy efficiency, water conservation, pollution prevention, and wastewater management). I have yet to meet a business, no matter how green it already is, that doesn’t find opportunities for improvement by using the program checklist.
- Identify cost savings. Fortunately, implementing green practices in your business can also help you save money. For example, energy efficient lighting can reduce your energy bill, saving water can reduce your water bill, and recycling and composting can help reduce your garbage bill.
- Receive technical assistance. The GBP offers technical assistance to help businesses implement green initiatives. In addition to providing assistance through the Program itself, the GBP also partners with organizations such as EBMUD, PG&E, and cities throughout Alameda County to provide assistance to businesses. Imagine being able to tap into a network of specialists in energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste reduction who can answer questions, provide suggestions, and share resources, all just to help you!
- Third-party certification of your green practices. While many businesses say they are green, very few can actually prove it. For example, they may say that they are green because they’ve worked on recycling or because one of their products is made from recycled materials. However, this doesn’t mean that they have comprehensively evaluated their environmental impacts or that a third-party has vetted their claims. Third-party certification separates your business from others whose green marketing claims haven’t been substantiated.
- Legitimate certification. Third-party certification is important, but alone, it’s not enough. It’s important to make sure that the third-party certification you rely on is a legitimate one. The scams in this area are many, and just a few years ago, the FTC even cracked down on a bogus certification that was “neither tested, nor green.” If you’re going to take the time and effort to certify your business, it’s important to make sure that you use a legitimate certification program. The Green Business Program is the only program of its kind recognized by the state of California and works with numerous, reputable partners such as municipalities and utilities.
- Marketing benefits. As a Certified Green Business, you can use the Green Business Program logo on your print and electronic materials, including your website, email, business cards, postcards, and other items. You’ll receive a certificate and decal that you can post in your office. Your business will also be listed on the Green Business Program public directory, which you can see here.
- Join a community. Certified Green Businesses represent a wide range of industries, from restaurants and print shops to dental practices and hotels. Additionally, there are a number of professional service providers, including attorneys, consultants, insurance agents and more who have certified their businesses. When your business gets certified, you will be part of a growing community of almost 600 businesses that are certified in Alameda County.
- Build public awareness. As a business owner committed to being green, you can also help to increase public awareness about Certified Green Businesses. Using the GBP logo, sharing information on your website about being a green business, and other activities help to spread the word about the businesses that have committed to being green. The more that the public knows, the more that they will be able to choose between businesses that are aligned with their values and those that aren’t.
If you’re interested in Green Business Certification, the best thing to do is to register your business on the California Green Business Program website. It takes just a few minutes to get started. By doing so, you’ll be able to view and work on the online checklist. There’s no cost to register, and there’s not even an obligation to complete the process.
However, you’ll find that one of two things can happen: either you’ll be able to go through the application, complete the certification process and get certified, or you’ll be able to go through the application and identify other ways in which you can improve your green business practices. Either way, it’s a benefit to you!