Getting Started with Green Business Certification

If you’re interested in making your business more environmentally friendly, Green Business Certification is a great option.

The Bay Area Green Business Program certifies local businesses that meet high standards for environmental performance. It was launched in 1996 and is part of the statewide California Green Business Program, which leads the state and nation in working with small to medium sized businesses to grow a vibrant and healthy green economy. It currently operates in all nine Bay Area counties and has certified over 2300 businesses.

The program is unique compared to other certification programs in that it is a collaboration between local government and utilities to help small to medium sized businesses.  [Read more…]

Human Capital: The “People” Part of the Triple Bottom Line

The triple bottom line is one of the principles of sustainable business that gives weight not just to making a profit, but also to being responsible for how a business impacts people and the planet. In short, it looks at people, planet, and profit in all business considerations.

The financial component is the one that we are most familiar with, because it has traditionally been the only part that a company has to be concerned about. The concept of natural capital has gained increased attention as we realize that many of the natural resources we take for granted are not going to be around forever.

The “people” part is really about human capital – the people who actually carry out the work of the company, as well as the people who are impacted by the company (this is the part that puts the “social responsibility” in CSR, corporate social responsibility). [Read more…]

What is Sustainability in Business?

Sustainability in business can be defined in different ways. One of the most commonly accepted definitions comes from a 1987 UN Conference: “Sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” This sounds good, but what does it really mean? [Read more…]

AB 361: Benefit Corporation Legislation in CA

In 2011, the state of California became another in the growing list of states to consider Benefit Corporation legislation. Introduced by Assemblymember Jared Huffman of the 6th Assembly District, representing Marin and southern Sonoma County, the legislation proposes establishing a new type of corporation in the state. [Read more…]

Natural Capital: A Definition for Business Owners

One of the fundamental features of sustainable business is the concept of the triple bottom line. Rather than just focusing on growing financial profit, a sustainable business will take into consideration its social and environmental impact as well. This requires recognizing the value that lies in both social and natural capital, in addition to financial capital. [Read more…]

B Corp Certification: What is it?

The conventional wisdom when it comes to business is that, as a business owner, you have to make a choice: you can either make money, or you can do good.

This is, however, a false dichotomy. You don’t have to choose to either ensure your personal livelihood or to live according to your values. As one of my MBA instructors used to say, you can choose “both/and” – you can both make money and do good. [Read more…]

Sustainability in Business: A New Model for a New Era

Do you remember rotary phones? At one time, rotary phones were in every home. Now they’re relics of the past, displaced by better, newer, faster technology.

Many of our business practices and beliefs are just like the rotary phone. They were developed during a different era, in which they were widely used and met the needs of those times. However, they are not suited to the needs of the present, much less the future. This is why the triple bottom line has become so important for sustainability in business.

Consider a few long-held beliefs that are now being challenged: [Read more…]

Sustainable Business Practices for Consultants

When it comes to sustainable business practices, most of the attention is focused on how large corporations can minimize their environmental impact. Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Index, for example, received much fanfare when it was first announced, since the ripple effects of the world’s largest retailer greening its supply chain would be considerable. However, even consultants and solo service professionals have a supply chain and can take steps to reduce their carbon footprints. In fact, in many ways the issues are similar to those of a large corporation but on a much smaller scale.

Some areas in which you can evaluate your own practices include: [Read more…]

Business Sustainability: The Triple Bottom Line

One of the fundamental principles of business sustainability is the triple bottom line. The bottom line refers, literally, to the last line on an income statement that shows the profits made by a business. Traditionally, business has been all about the bottom line and profits.

That was in the old days.

Now, a business that focuses only on profits ignores two critical elements necessary to its success: human capital and natural capital. Simply put, a company relies on both people and natural resources in order to operate, so to look at a business solely in terms of profit is to ignore two of the necessary components of a viable business. [Read more…]