Whether you are a well-established firm or a start-up, green business certification is a must for any company committed to the welfare of people and the planet. GBB’s forward-thinking certification program enhances your credibility and paves the way for long-term positive impact and rewards. This step-by-step guide shows you how to get started on your company’s green certification journey.
We know consumers and employees prefer green businesses. We also know businesses need to become greener and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Green business certifications are a great way to meet both these new business demands. If you’re a small business owner, sustainability manager or green team leader, you need to understand your certification options and how they work.
Amidst global discussions on climate change and growing stakeholder support for corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship, you’re probably well on your way ready to greener future for your business. One of the most powerful ways to launch and promote your commitment is to earn a third-party sustainability certification such as that offered by Green Business Bureau. This practical guide offers 11 steps for getting started on your green business certification journey.
UNDERSTAND THE GREEN BUSINESS TRENDS
From international airfreight to the birth of eCommerce, market changes have historically transformed the way we do business. Today, the global outcry to tackle climate change and a surge in support to hold companies accountable are driving the market towards green business practice. There is a growing desire among consumers for products and business practices that are eco-friendly and morally sound. In fact, 87% of Americans choose to do business with those who support the issues they care about; 76% of Americans expect companies to address climate change specifically. This desire for planetary wellbeing is not only at the heart of your customers, but within your employees’ as well. 79% of people seeking employment look for companies with positive environmental credentials. A green work culture not only attracts new employees but encourages purpose-driven employee engagement and retention.
Support for sustainable products and green business practices will continue to grow as younger generations gain more market leverage. Majority of Millennials, now America’s largest generation, prefer buying from and working for companies who care about their impact on the planet. To stay relevant and competitive, it is necessary to understand how and why the market is shifting towards sustainability. This awareness ultimately reinforces your company’s purpose and decision to go green.
RESEARCH YOUR CERTIFICATION OPTIONS
In a market tinged with greenwashing and illegitimate programs, a trusted third-party certification validates your company’s sustainability commitment and highlights your credibility. Today, the best options for sustainability certification are B Corp and GBB.
The B Corp and GBB programs are similar in that they both establish corporate social responsibility and reveal opportunities for improvement and goal setting. However, B Corp covers a broad range of impact areas (Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers) whereas GBB is more finely tuned to sustainability and environmental impact. The B Corp certification process is also rigorous in nature, closely evaluates company operations, and requires high compliance standards to be met. B Corp is appropriate for companies who have the resources and budget in place to achieve these high standards. For those who may be new to sustainability or those wanting to solely focus on their environmental impact, GBB offers a more affordable and flexible approach.
The GBB certification program is initiative based, meaning that members earn points for each and every green initiative that they complete. With over 400 green initiatives spanning from the office breakroom to transportation, GBB offers a robust platform that companies across all industries can use to optimize their environmental impact.
Still undecided? Learn more about how B Corp and GBB compare here.
BECOME A GREEN BUSINESS BUREAU MEMBER
Now that you have decided that GBB’s practical approach is right for your business, a Green Certification Specialist will be happy to assist you on your green journey. Go to Greenbusinessbureau.com to request a demo or further information about the certification process and membership benefits. You can also review GBB membership prices here. Just by joining, all members receive the GBB Member Seal to display on their company website. GBB welcomes you and looks forward to working with you to become a leader in green business!
COMPLETE A GREEN BUSINESS ASSESSMENT
Bypass consultant costs and scheduled meetings by taking the GBB EcoAssessment, an online self-assessment of your company’s current level of sustainability. This easy-to-follow survey entails a comprehensive list of questions involving company practices such as employee carpooling, use of energy efficient products, community involvement, and much more. The EcoAssessment can be completed at your own pace which is always a welcomed convenience to the world of business professionals. Further, the EcoAssessment recognizes the green efforts that you have already made and counts this towards your Member Certification Level. Rather than starting from square one, this gives GBB members a solid launching point to further their sustainability mission and reach higher certification levels. Simply fulfilling the prerequisite initiatives earns you the GBB Aware Seal to display on your company website.
PRIORITIZE NEXT STEPS AND SET GOALS
Once you determine your company’s sustainability status, use the GBB EcoPlanner online application to set goals tailored to your company’s unique needs and capabilities. At GBB, we recognize that sustainability is not a one-size-fits all process and businesses differ in goals and the means of achieving them. That’s why our online EcoPlanner offers a variety of green initiatives ranging from low to high difficulty in terms of cost, effort, and environmental impact.
From the comfort of your desktop, you can quickly filter green initiatives by category (Ex. Copy/Print), level of difficulty, and completion. You also have the freedom to complete the initiatives in any order and at any pace. Simply click ‘Complete’ next to the initiative and points will automatically be added towards your Member Certification Level.
Being a certified green business means sustainability is at the core of internal operations and it requires teamwork and a “can do” spirit. The GBB certification program is a valuable opportunity for employee engagement, learning, and team building. By creating a green work culture, every employee can feel like a sustainability champion working towards a higher purpose. 96% of employees report that their company’s sustainability programs improved their relationship with their employer. Not only will your employees feel proud to work for a company committed to planetary and social good, but they will find satisfaction in seeing real results generated from GBB’s online tools.
SET UP YOUR INTERACTIVE CERTIFICATION SEAL AND GREEN PROFILE WEBPAGE
Unlike other third-party badges and seals that are stagnant or physical, the GBB certification seal and green profile webpage are dynamic and transparent online to employees, customers and partners.. Whether you are Aware, Gold, or Platinum certified, your Member Seal is directly linked to your GBB Member Profile and automatically updates with every new initiative you complete. By clicking on your Member Seal, online users can see the details of your sustainability status in real time. Our approach provides public transparency and reinforces your credibility and trustworthiness. It also eliminates the hassle of frequent website updates.
PROMOTE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY
The commitment to becoming a greener business is worthy of recognition both in and outside of the office. Release a PR statement to announce your new green business certification and what your decision to go green means for your company and stakeholders. This is a great opportunity to be recognized as a sustainability leader in your community.
UTILIZE GBB MARKETING TOOLS AND RESOURCES
GBB certification goes beyond the badge of achievement by providing all members access to valuable marketing tools and resources. Through a personalized Member Story, your company’s achievements can be showcased on the GBB Blog and shared worldwide. You can also expand your reach by being featured on GBB’s social media platforms. Further, feel like an active player in the green business community with the chance to network with other driven GBB members.
MEASURE YOUR RESULTS AND SAVINGS
Actively participating in the GBB green business certification program yields real results in the form of cost savings, employee retention, and customer attraction. 89% of companies have seen a profit increase by making environmentally positive business model changes. While any sustainability certification comes at a cost, the GBB framework ultimately pays for itself in the long-term as it targets the most energy-intensive and waste-generative areas of your company.
CONTINUE YOUR JOURNEY TO THE NEXT CERTIFICATION LEVEL
More than a one-time purchase, GBB certification is a “tool for a lifetime” that can be applied repeatedly as your company grows and changes. With a variety of green initiatives offered and multiple certification levels to achieve, there is always room for your company to be ambitious with its commitment to sustainability.
About the Author
GBB Green Ambassador
Sarah Long is a content writer for Green Business Bureau who is passionate about the power of brand development and marketing to promote sustainability. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree focused in Sustainable Energy, she also has a special interest in emerging clean energy technology and design. Outside of academia and her career pursuits, Sarah performs as an indie folk musician and enjoys painting and going on road trips with her dog, Echo.