Green Business Certification Overview
Implementing the Green Business Bureau Certification is a process that allows organizations to move at one’s individual pace towards the Gold and Platinum level. The certification process is entirely initiative based, so your company will receive points for each and every activity it completes. Initiatives are organized by the business area they impact, such as transportation or office materials, and further marked by the effort, cost and greening impact of the initiative. This simple but flexible structure ensures your company can easily target and implement the efforts that best suit your company’s needs and opportunities.
Green Business Certification Implementation
The certification can be implemented by one single individual or an entire team. No matter the choice, integrating activities and efforts across the organization will not only support efforts but encourage all the employees to feel a sense of pride and ownership. As with any project, consistent and timely engagement with the project team is key. There may be times where you’ll need to raise the energy level, reboot the project, prioritize, or deal with the feeling of “what else can we do?” Here are ten tips for getting the most from a Green Business Bureau certification project.
Utilize the EcoPlanner each month to guide goals and initiatives
Make logging into the GBB EcoPlanner a task that is done at least once a month. Doing this before a team meeting will give you ideas of initiatives (that have not been done) to work on for the following month. This could be a simple one EcoPoint initiative such as a paper reduction campaign or a larger initiative such as implementing a carpool program or office hoteling.
Utilize the GBB Initiative Filter Option in the GBB EcoLibrary
The GBB database of initiatives, EcoLibrary contains several hundred initiatives from low to high effort, from low to high impact and from low to high cost. Make searching efforts worthwhile by narrowing down the initiative search using these filters in the GBB EcoLibrary on the left hand margin. Choosing combinations of options such as “medium effort” and “ low cost” or “low effort” and “medium cost” to fine tune your list of available initiatives. Use the category filter to look at specific departments, facilities, and functions. Category examples include: Business practices, bathrooms, breakrooms, office space, print, outdoor, transportation, and community involvement.
Focus on “Low Hanging Fruit” Initiatives to Start
Whether the program is brand new or in its third or fourth year, choose simple low hanging fruit initiatives that have yet to be completed to not only add points to the certification, but to give the company/green team a boost and some things to celebrate. To find some ideas, simply log into the GBB EcoPlanner dashboard. On the left hand side use the sort options to filter for “available” and “low effort” options. There is a vast variety available to choose from. Some initiatives will give one point where others may give as many as 50 points! A few options to consider:
- Use air filter plants throughout the office to improve indoor air quality (4 points)
- Offer an employee incentive program for purchasing electric or hybrid vehicles (50 points)
- Install timmers on non-essential appliances (12 points)
- Set up an office supply reuse center (2 points)
- Sell or donate unneeded furniture and equipment
- Serve and encourage employees to purchase local organic and fair trade food and drink (2 points)
- Assist at least one other business in learning about eco-efficiency and encourage them to join the GBB (2 points)
- Bring sustainability into employees homes through company sponsored education (4 points)
- Offer an office composting program (12 points)
- Purchase trash bin liners made from 35-100% post consumer recycled materials (8 points)
- Offer an office composting for food waste (12 points)
Collaborate on green initiatives with all company departments
Every company’s sustainability champion or leader has a unique position and might be from any corporate function, including Facilities, HR, Manufacturing, Marketing, or Operations. The green team champion needs to understand the company’s sustainability strategy and opportunities and evaluate where the company’s green focus is. Which departments can have the largest impact? Which initiatives will have the largest impact? There may be several departments and areas of the company or building that will need to support the sustainability program and certification project. Be sure to communicate the sustainability program goals and objectives to all departments, executives, and managers. The GBB certification program should be a cross-functional effort.
Take Advantage of Marketing Opportunities
Every company should demonstrate their commitment to sustainability to their employees, customers and partners. The completion of the GBB certification is a great way to do that. Publishing the clickable GBB Green Business seal on your website is a great way to elevate the brand. Here are some marketing tips.
- Leverage the online GBB EcoProfile to tell your green story. Publish your certification level, EcoScore, green mission statement, and any other green accomplishments on the company website. Step 5 of the GETTING STARTED steps provides detailed instructions on how to use the online seal and share the code snippet / link with your webmaster.
- Write and post sustainability blogs and articles on your website. Share your GBB green mission statement (captured in the GBB Ecoprofile), accomplishments, and commitments.
- Utilize social media as a free platform to share your content, communicate green company efforts, and celebrate success. GBB also provide social media inserts for marketing to use on Social Media. Examples include holiday wishes to customers that remind them of your GBB membership and green business commitment. These are provided monthly by GBB to members.
- Share GBB articles, blogs, tips and guide available on the GBB website to employees, stakeholders, and customers.
- Populate your entire GBB EcoProfile for your customers to view all the progress happening at your organization. That includes 1) your green story and mission 2) your accomplishments and milestones 3) your certification level and EcoScore. GBB offers step by step videos to help walk through this process and create a EcoProfile to be proud of.
Engage and Educate Employees Through Internal Communication
Educating employees and internal stakeholders can be just as important as educating customers about the efforts of the green certification. The certification process helps engage all employees who want to make a difference and be part of the company’s purpose beyond profit. It’s a chance to create a green culture and let employees drive the cause.
The Green Business Bureau can help with this. They can provide guest speakers for company-wide events. They also provide support for writing member stories and collaborating on member profiles. In addition the website hosts hundreds of blogs/articles on a variety of topics for employees from “green teams” to “ROI”.
Think about implementing an internal quarterly or monthly newsletter or add a sustainability section on the company internal communication platform / intranet. Share project milestones, success stories, pictures, and articles written by the green team members.
Incorporate Fun, Company-Wide “Green” Activities and Training
Encourage all employees to participate in your sustainability program with fun internal and external activities. This could be a fruit/vegetable growing contest, “ride your bike to work day” or a large event such as celebrating Earth Day in a large way both with employees and customers! Meet with local community organizations and causes and see if there’s a way for company employees to support their local community efforts. Check out these blogs found on the GBB website for some additional ideas:
- Earth Day activities for employees
- Earth Day employee engagement
- 5 Ways to Use Employee Engagement and Sustainability to Motivate a Return to the Office
- Corporate Sustainability Training: Practical Employee Education
Offer Employee Volunteer Hours For Community Involvement
Company executives and leaders should help drive the green culture and encourage employees to be involved in local community projects. In fact, they should offer employees a certain amount of “paid” volunteer hours a year to choose how they would like to use them in their community. Typical ranges GBB has seen are anywhere from 2 to 8 hours per month. An employee may choose to volunteer with a local non-profit cleaning up trash, planting trees, planting a community garden, or hosting an event on how to start a compost pile.
Encourage, Motivate and Celebrate Your Green Team Accomplishments
Many company green teams are made up of part-time volunteer positions or roles that include a few hours towards sustainability. No matter if paid or volunteer, everyone needs to be recognized for their efforts and impact. Completed projects and milestones need to celebrated from time to time. Consider implementing a few of these simple ideas to celebrate all the hard work being done:
- Create team T-shirts with logos (have an employee or an employee’s child create the image for the shirts). Allow employees to wear these shirts to work with jeans when hosting a “green” event.
- Highlight a green team member or team each month in an internal employee newsletter.
- Once a year host a full green team meeting (in person or virtual) and present a “team lead” award (eco-friendly ones can be purchased, find a local vendor and/or use recycled materials to create).
- In addition, present a green team member award as well.
- Have the CEO or president shout out employees in communication or company-wide events.
Need Additional Support? The GBB Member Success Team Is Available.
Need some help getting started or completing the online EcoAsssment? Need help with an EcoLibrary overview or refresher? Are there new green team members who could use a little support or advice from sustainability analysts? Green Business Bureau has a Member Success Team of sustainability analysts that can help. Simply reach out to the member success person assigned to your membership and account.
You should also watch the “Getting Started Training Video for New Members” video right when you sign up and whenever you need a refresher. It’s also a great video for new green team members to watch.
To get online support or contact the right person, simply log into GreenBusinessBureau.com on to your profile and on the top click on “My GBB” then “Member Help.”
About the Author
Maggie’s career started in the education sector as a teacher before committing to the Peace Corps and educational development in The Gambia, where she helped establish an Early Childhood Education school that now is serving 265 students in counting. After returning to the U.S., Maggie worked as Funding Coordination Manager at School Specialty, a company that provides necessary educational supplies for schools, and helped transform the company into a successful sustainable organization. Now Maggie runs her own consulting firm to promote “sustainable steps to a better future” and educate organizations on the benefits and savings possible through adoption of green technology. With Maggie’s diverse experience in education, environmental science, and program management, plus exceptional interpersonal skills, she seeks to form lasting relationships with Key Opinion Leaders to make plans into a reality.