Business professionals who invest in sustainability and pursue Green Business Certification in California recognize something important:
Running a business that is aligned with their values, operates efficiently, and can differentiate from its competitors just makes good business sense.
This is just the start. There are really many benefits of Green Business Certification:
- 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 operate sustainably.
- Use a framework to green your business. Having worked with countless small businesses on sustainability initiatives, I find that many small business owners lack a comprehensive strategy. Often, some important elements might be in place (such as waste reduction through a recycling program) while others (such as water conservation) are overlooked. The Green Business Program (GBP) provides a sustainability framework that ensures that a business is looking at its impact in several key areas. I have yet to meet a business, no matter how much it’s already doing with sustainability, 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 free 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 utilities and cities throughout the 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! Think of it as your own personal sustainability consulting team.
- Get third-party certification of your green practices. While many businesses say they are green, few can actually prove it – this is why greenwashing has turned off a lot of consumers. A business may claim that it’s green because it has a recycling program or because one of its 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.
- Earn a 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. There have been many scams in this area, 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 that has been supported by the state of California.
- Differentiate from competitors. More consumers are looking to support companies that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. In fact, a recent Nielsen survey concluded that, “Going forward, brands have to define a credible, relevant social purpose, deliver greater social value, and communicate that value effectively to attract and retain consumers.” Businesses that can demonstrate that they stand for more than just making money will have the competitive advantage in the future.
- Leverage the 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 to convey your green credentials. 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). Plus, you can let your customers know what you did to attain the certification – meeting a comprehensive list of requirements and having on-site audits – through a blog post or sustainability page on your site.
- 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 and more than 3000 that are certified statewide.
- Raise public awareness. As a business professional committed to being green, you can also help to increase public awareness about the efforts that local businesses are making to operate sustainably. 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.
In addition to the benefits above, there’s also another bonus that businesses have mentioned to me time and time again:
11. Learn a lot. The process of going through the certification, using the checklist, and meeting with auditors means that you and your team will learn quite a bit as you go through the process. You’ll uncover practices that you hadn’t thought of before, you’ll find resources that you didn’t know about, and you’ll talk to experts who are there to help you. This is probably the biggest benefit that businesses have shared with me as they get certified.
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).