What to Look for in a Green Business Certification?
Get the Word Out That You’re Green
Why is there a need for Green Business Certification? Why do products carry eco-labels? How do you decide which Green Certification is best for your needs? There is a lot of talk in the nation about being transparent. Presidents promise that the government will be more transparent. New software will make transparent the life cycle of how a product was made. Consumers want to see a company’s business transactions become transparent so that they can make a decision between two brands. Even though transparency sounds like a scary movie, becoming transparent about a business’s green practices can improve the bottom line. How does green certification help in making your business green practices visible to consumers?
More and more consumers are demanding to know where their product came from and want to feel comfortable purchasing from companies that are reducing their carbon footprint. Thankfully, there is software out there to help business owners satisfy their customer’s wants. However, be sure not to become overwhelmed with the daunting task of finding out the entire history of your products; satisfying your customers can mean simply to get a green certification. Advising consumers of your own green business practices and gaining a green business certificate can help making your green initiatives transparent.
Time to be a Green Business
Going green for businesses – that is modifying one’s business model to include sustainable initiatives that minimize waste, encourage recycling and provide ecological benefits to the Earth and its inhabitants – is a very laudable goal in and of its self. However, for most companies the desire to adopt green business practices simply for green’s sake is great, but they also want to realize some financial benefits from their green business.
Certainly many green initiatives pay for themselves with cost savings that are realized after some length of time, for example by installing solar power panels or energy efficient green roofs which, over time, reduce your energy costs. But there are other ways to make your own green efforts work for you by not only reducing costs but actually bringing in more customers. The best way to do this is to engage in green, sustainable business and then advertise that fact to forward thinking people who prefer to patronize green establishments. A great way to do this – to get the word out that you are going green – is through green certifications for business.
Show Them Green
One step that must be done when showing customers that your business is a green business is to start at home. Advertising for green products will not go very far if your business establishment is not green itself. Make sure that lighting has been upgraded to compact fluorescent lighting or the newer LED bulbs. Have an established recycling program, which can be front and center throughout your business as multiuse recycling bins and trash cans.
If your business needs to use bags, be sure not to use plastic shopping bags and change over to a recyclable product. Have your bags printed with your green accomplishments on them to point out to the customer what your business has done. Upgrade your restrooms, especially if customers use them, to sensory and low water use sinks and toilets. Use jet hand dryers instead of paper towels or heated dryers. Place signs in the restroom thanking your customers for enjoying your green upgrades. Change all paper products, like pamphlets and receipts, to a recyclable paper. For additional radical changes, check out the website www.usgbc.org for suggestions from the LEED program and if possible, shoot for a LEED certification and stamp of approval.
The Value of Green Certification
Green certifications are a great way to showcase your eco-friendly nature and initiatives. A green certification can help you tell your current and prospective customers that you care about our shared environment and are doing your best to institute environmentally responsible and sustainable business practices. Green certifications usually provide you with permission to use their certification seal on advertising including your website and print materials. This lets the public know that you are working to be green. Many certification organizations also maintain their own website with a list of green companies, in essence providing you with additional exposure as people visiting the green certification website can do a search on types of green businesses and come across your company.
Choosing the Right Green Certification
The right green certification organization can help you plan, implement and advertise your green initiatives. It is important that you choose a certification that has a strong presence in the green community, one that is respected, environmentally conscious and dedicated to helping businesses around the country go green. A good green certification should have a .org web url, one sign that they are a dedicated organization not simply a fly by night company out to make a quick buck by “selling” certifications.
A valuable green certification organization should work with you to consider your existing green initiatives and develop a list of new green activities that work with your budget, company vision and customer base. Of course, you also want to look for green certifications that apply to your particular business or current initiatives, and you may find that you want to seek more than one organization certification. For example, if you are a grocery store and you are building a new location, you might seek LEED accreditation, which is a type of building accreditation that signifies the level of sustainability of your new building as far as actual building, maintenance and daily operations. Then, you may want an additional green certification, such as the GBB, to certify your business as sustainable, bringing in an independent auditor to look at how you handle materials and waste, recycle, manage storm water and more. Finally, you might bring in yet a third green certification to certify your produce as organic, locally grown or other sustainable practices specifically relating to your product. You may also want to consider local green certifications which can help you advertise your environmental friendliness in the neighborhoods where your products are most readily available.
Once you have chosen your certification organization, or multiple organizations for your various business activities, you need to work with them to develop your green plan. A truly useful green certification organization will have a team of knowledgeable people who can help you make decisions, directing you to green resources, suggesting specific eco-friendly initiatives that will both help you save money and the environment, and help you implement these plans and ideas. A good certification organization will provide input on how to set goals for sustainability and how to measure your success against those goals.