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Benefits of Green Business Bureau and LEED Certifications

Businesses today need more than good products and services to succeed – they need purpose. Whether that be by supporting the local community or launching a larger initiative to support the world as a whole, smart business leaders understand the importance of making a difference, big and small. One impactful way to do this is to formally commit to a green building or green business certification.

The benefits of green certifications for business go well beyond a rating, a seal or certificate of proof. The process itself becomes a journey to create a greener business and more eco-friendly business environment.

Two options to consider are LEED and Green Business Bureau (GBB). Both programs credibly verify your company’s sustainability to customers, employees, partners and the community which is especially important when your stakeholders require or prefer to work with verifiably sustainable businesses. LEED focuses on the physical aspects of your building and infrastructure. GBB covers all aspects of a business including building, processes, policies, operations and employees.

This article is a detailed comparison of the two green business certification programs. It provides executives, leaders, managers and workers with insight on how to select and implement the right sustainability certification for their business.

3rd Party Verification

Green business certifications are verified by a 3rd party and available from many organizations. Similar to the public sustainability reporting world, there is no one certification standard and the certification options are very fragmented. Two of the most popular certification organizations are LEED and Green Business Bureau.

LEED Overview

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most well-known and prolific green building certification system in the United States. Buildings that are LEED certified have been designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in energy efficiency, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reductions, improved indoor air quality and resource stewardship.

LEED Benefits

According to the USGBC.org website, LEED certification will provide the following benefits:

  • Gain a competitive edge – 61% of corporate leaders believe that sustainability leads to market differentiation and improved financial performance.
  • Attract tenants – LEED-certified buildings command the highest rents, while lease-up rates typically range from average to 20% above average; vacancy rates for green buildings are an estimated 4% lower than non-green properties.
  • Manage performance – LEED is the world leading green building project and performance management system. It delivers a comprehensive framework for green building design, construction, operations and performance.
  • Meet ESG goals – LEED helps investors meet their ESG goals by providing investors with the robust and globally recognized green building framework to measure and manage their real estate performance.

LEED Certification Requirements

Qualifying for the USGBC’s LEED certification is a very in depth process that involves extremely detailed standards and guidelines. The certification requires mathematical calculations and detailed documentation of design, materials and construction.

The certification scores green building design and construction using a point system that is categorized in five areas:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality

LEED is an excellent certification for your buildings, but that’s it. It does not cover all the other dimensions of being a sustainable business including waste management, pollution, recycling, reuse, plastics, vehicles, commuting, delivery, manufacturing, etc. In other words, it is useful for ensuring your physical offices and buildings are environmentally friendly but misses all the other important elements of being a sustainable business. Consider LEED a secondary certification.

Green Business Bureau

The Green Business Bureau program is a more complete program covering all functions and departments of a company. It includes the online EcoAssessment and EcoPlanner tools and a library of over 400 green initiatives and EcoPlans to choose from.

The GBB certification is automated, online and guided. GBB’s certification process is entirely initiative based, so a company will receive points for each and every activity it has completed. Initiatives are very granular and well-defined and the library is designed to capture your completed initiatives and give you full credit for all your accomplishments. This even includes initiatives completed before joining the program. As more initiatives are fulfilled over time, your EcoScore increases, granting an opportunity to reach Gold and Platinum certification levels.

Initiatives are organized by the business area they impact, such as building, cafeteria, bathrooms, manufacturing, operations, transportation or office materials, and further marked by the effort, cost and greening impact of the initiative. This simple but flexible structure ensures a company can easily target and implement the efforts that best suit the company’s needs and opportunities.

The program includes the following functions:

  • Manufacturing including production, sourcing, fulfillment, distribution and logistics.
  • Facilities including buildings, cleaning and maintenance, bathrooms, food service, heating, air conditioning and landscaping.
  • Engineering including product design, materials and end-of-life management (e.g. the product’s reuse and recycling potential).
  • Finance and Accounting including applying carbon credits, minimizing paper billing and printing and remote working.
  • Customer Service including remote service and product repair that reuses old spare parts for replacements.
  • Human Resources including video conferencing interviews, hiring of employees that are purpose-driven and committed to sustainability.
  • Information Technology & Printing including your servers, data center and hosting providers.
  • Sales and Marketing including business travel, printing of marketing materials and sustainability evangelism.
  • Executive Team including establishing a company purpose, green mission statement, green culture and the right values.

The GBB seal is well-recognized so member businesses get the positive recognition of their commitment to sustainability and the environment. GBB provides a collection of tools and opportunities for member companies to share, differentiate and be recognized for their greening achievements with customers, prospects, partners, regulators and communities alike. A ‘clickable’ web seal takes customers and employees to a personal sustainability webpage that shows a business’s certification level, total points, sustainability mission and accomplishments.

Certification Program Comparisons

The LEED and GBB programs are similar in that they both establish environmental sustainability as a priority for your company. They are different in scope and focus and understanding the differences will help you select the right program to pursue.

As discussed, LEED is very specific in scope, it covers your building. GBB is very broad in scope. It covers buildings, operations across all functions, policies and basically all possible green initiatives a company can complete. They are comparable in that both programs will provide you with a blueprint and solid foundation to track and manage your environmental performance. That said, a detailed review of the programs makes it clear that the LEED program is designed for companies that are designing a new building or renovating a current building to be more eco-friendly. It mostly involves facilities leaders.

Green Business Bureau certification involves all departments and hence all employees. It establishes a green culture and makes environmentalism a priority in all aspects of a business. It’s ideal for green teams and sustainability committees looking for a sustainability framework to manage their sustainability program. It will let your employees drive the cause while providing a scorecard to measure progress.

Get Started on Your Green Journey

If you’re ready to begin or continue your green journey, we’d love to be your partner along the way. Getting started on green certification with Green Business Bureau is an easy and affordable way to show your customers and community that you care about sustainability.

To learn more or become a member, check out GreenBusinessBureau.com today.

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