Getting Started with Green Business Certification

If you’re interested in going green in your business, 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 a founding member of the California Green Business Program. 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 coordinated by the Association of Bay Area Governments and has partnerships with cities, utilities, and environmental agencies.

Why Should You Get Certified?

There are many benefits to Green Business Certification:

  1. Do the right thing. Many businesses get certified because they want to align their business with their values. The certification framework and process helps them to make sure that they are doing all they can to reduce their environmental impact.
  2. Cost savings. You can identify opportunities for reducing expenses through implementing water and energy conservation measures, among other things.
  3. Market differentiation. You’ll be able to differentiate from your competitors who either may not be green or may not have the third-party verification to support their claims.
  4. A proven framework. You’ll be able to use a proven framework to make sure that you’re evaluating all of your environmental impacts, rather than taking an ad hoc approach to sustainability.

What Does the Certification Process Involve?

The certification process is straightforward:

  1. Register your business. You can enroll online by filling out a short form. When you enroll, you will need to select a “sector” that reflects your business type. In many cases, this will be obvious, such as “Office/Retail” or “Restaurant.” If you don’t see a sector for your business or if you’re not sure which sector is best for you, you should check with the Program Coordinator.
  2. Complete the online checklist. The checklist consists of six sections: Solid Waste, Energy, Water, Pollution Prevention, Wastewater, and General. In each section, you will need to make sure that you implement all of the required measures and the minimum number of additional measures.
  3. Pass the on-site audits. After your checklist is complete, you’ll need to schedule the on-site audits. The auditors will confirm that everything that is on your checklist has been implemented at your business. If the auditor finds that you’re not meeting the program requirements, the auditor will let you know what you need to do to correct the deficiency.

Once you complete these steps, your business will be certified!

How Long Will It Take?

The certification process can vary quite a bit from business to business. Some factors that affect the length of time required to complete the certification include:

  • Resources available. Even for a small business, the certification process can take some time. Having a dedicated individual who can dedicate time to working on the checklist, gather information, coordinate with other staff, and arrange the on-site audits is important.
  • Changes needed. A business that already meets many of the program standards will have fewer measures to implement compared to one that needs to make significant changes. Some changes, especially ones that relate to your facilities, can take longer to implement.
  • Audit follow-ups. Sometimes items will come up during the on-site audits that need to be addressed before a business can pass an audit. Delays in addressing the follow-up items will of course slow down the overall certification process.

How Long Does the Certification Last?

The certification is good for three years. For some businesses that use the Office/Retail checklist, the certification is valid for four years. At the end of your certification period, you will be contacted to begin your recertification.

Is There a Cost for Certification?

At the time of this writing, there is no fee for the certification itself. If your business needs to implement some changes to meet the program standards, there may be costs involved.

Summary

Green Business Certification is a great opportunity for many small businesses in Alameda County: you align your business with your values, get a framework for sustainability, and get a marketing advantage all at no cost to you!

 

 

 

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