New York green business certification to support sustainable city design
The New York market boasts 8.6 million potential customers which speak over 800 different languages. This makes New York an important center for international affairs and the cultural capital of the world. It also means that here, a business can have a significant global impact while acting locally.
For purpose-driven leaders, what better place to do business? Here you’ll have an international reach to raise awareness for, educate, and promote business sustainability and your sustainable brand. As such, this Green Business Bureau (GBB) article has been created for you, to help you effectively communicate your environmentally and socially responsible mission with green business certification.
After reading this article you’ll learn how to certify your brand. We present five globally recognized certification providers before explaining how New York state will endorse the validation of your green business – via the Business Council of Westchester (CW BCM) and the Green Business Bureau partnership. At the end of this article, we’ll explain how your business can leverage this partnership to gain the recognition your organization deserves.[/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]
What are the business benefits of green business certification?
Green business certification helps companies demonstrate their commitment to sustainability for key stakeholders (customers, investors, partners, and employees). In doing, certification augments the benefits of business sustainability by providing transparent proof of sustainable development. That is, much of the benefits of sustainability in business come from how a brand is perceived by investors, customers, and employees, as we explain:
- 87% of American consumers support brands that advocate for the issues they care about, with 76% of such consumers expecting companies to take action against climate change. 63% of Americans want corporations to drive positive environmental and social change.
- 90% of institutional investors are more likely to divest from companies with poor sustainability performance, meaning investors are paying more attention to a brand’s sustainability performance when making investment decisions.
- 40% of millennials take a job because of a company’s sustainability credentials and would accept a pay cut to work for an environmentally responsible business. As millennials make up the largest proportion of the workforce, failing to deliver on important sustainability credentials could mean losing top talent.
Certification is an un-bias third-party evaluation of business operations using industry-standard sustainability criteria. An evidence-based assessment is provided that celebrates a brand’s sustainability successes, while also highlighting areas for improvement. This removes doubt from the minds of stakeholders that a business is true to its word. Corporate greenwash is avoided and brand credibility is bolstered. Sustainability efforts are effectively communicated to customers, investors, and employees, and the benefits of this are reaped.
Trusted third-party organizations like LEED, B-Corp, and the Green Business Bureau provide programs that prove your company’s green credentials, while also holding your business accountable to the highest standards. There’s no cutting corners, and doing sustainability properly ensures your business realizes the full benefits an effective sustainability program has to offer, such as:
- Access to new opportunity: A strong sustainability proposition helps businesses tap into new markets, while also expanding into existing ones. Innovation is used to solve the most pressing environmental and social problems, pushing entrepreneurs and business leaders to rethink their operations, evolve, adapt, and develop new products and services.
- Reduced business costs: 33% of businesses are integrating a sustainability strategy to improve operational efficiency and drive down costs. Efficiency improvement can in turn boost operational profit by as much as 60%.
- Improved business value: Reports indicate companies with high sustainability credentials outperformed the market in the medium (5 years) and the long term (5-10 years). In addition, other reports show businesses with a strong commitment to sustainability returned a 33.3% higher return over one year, beating the broader market by 8%.
The data is in and it’s clear that obtaining green business certification is simply good business.
For more information about the benefits of business sustainability, read: Why Is Sustainability Important In Business?
How do I certify my green business in New York?
Green business certification may initially feel daunting. Common questions business leaders like you may have at the beginning of your certification journey include:
- Is my business green enough for certification?
- What is the return on investment (ROI) of green business certification?
- Can I complete certification online to minimize my costs?
- With so many green business certification providers available, how do I make sure I’m choosing the right one for my business?
In this next section, we’ll answer these questions to explain how you can certify your brand as a sustainable business operating within New York.
Is my business green enough for certification?
The purpose of a green business certification program is to provide structure and guidance to support your organization’s sustainability journey – no matter how your brand is currently positioned regarding sustainability. In fact, businesses at the early stages of sustainable development stand to gain the most from green business certification. Such businesses can leverage the expertise of third-party sustainability experts for advice and authority guidance. This means fewer mistakes are made, and a robust and effective sustainability program is ensured.
You’ll work with your green business certification provider to set green goals. You can start small, and implement low-effort initiatives first to drive momentum and fund investment for higher-effort initiatives. For instance, switching to LED light bulbs costs little, yet businesses have been shown to save ~$3,700 annually per 25 bulbs. These savings can be reinvested into your organization’s sustainability program, creating a self-sustaining endeavor.
What is the return on investment (ROI) of green business certification?
We’ve already discussed the benefits of business sustainability, which go hand-in-hand and are augmented by green business certification. However, for more information on the ROI of green business certification DOWNLOAD our white paper available below.
Can I complete my certification online to minimize costs?
In short: Yes.
There are several green business certification programs that can be completed online. Here, your business operations are verified remotely to minimize time, effort, and costs.
For instance, the Green Business Bureau online certification platform was set up to address two issues in the certification market:
- There’s a lack of affordable green business certification programs.
- Sustainability is overcomplicated which stifles action.
Green business certification and sustainability have become clouded with stringent and expensive data collection, consultants, and report filing. While we at the Green Business Bureau recognize these to be vitally important processes, too much emphasis on these activities detracts focus from real, effective action. As Green Business Bureau President, Bill Zujewski puts it:
“Of course, a baseline of your carbon emissions is helpful. But I bet many can spend an hour or two in a spreadsheet and get a number that’s 80% accurate. (I love the 80/20 rule.) Do you really need a Sustainability Data Cloud with custom software and real-time data APIs? Do you need to complete a $250,000 materiality assessment consulting engagement? Most companies probably do not. I do understand that the SEC may require data disclosure someday for public companies, but I caution companies to not over engineer a carbon database. From what I can tell and from what I’ve seen, most companies, spend more time on data collection and reporting than on engaging employees and taking action. Even without the data, we know what policies are needed, what behavior needs to change, how products need to change, and where suppliers need to go.
Tell me your industry. Show me your products. Show me your energy bills, fuel bills, flights, and employee workplace locations. And I can probably tell you where to spend MORE time for CHANGE! And less time on data collection.” – Bill Zujewski, President at the Green Business Bureau, Sustainability: It’s About the Actions, Not Just the Carbon and ESG Data
Significant sustainable progress can be made using simple common sense. Hence, by simplifying sustainability and the process of auditing, the Green Business Bureau drives down certification costs and the time taken to make significant sustainable change. In this sense, online green business certification is changing how certification is done. This means validating your purpose online is not only possible and profitable, but it’s also more effective.
With so many green business certification providers available, how do I make sure I’m choosing the right provider for my business?
Businesses operating throughout the New York region must choose certification bodies that are nationally recognized (over local providers) so as to not limit certification reach. With this in mind, below we’ve listed the most popular, trusted, and nationally esteemed green business certification providers. Choosing the right provider for your business means considering your budget, resources, and the most pressing sustainability pain points to address.
For more information read: How To Choose the Right Green Business Certification.
5 internationally recognized green business certification providers
Green business certification providers your organization needs to be aware of are ISO 14001, B Corp Certification, Green Business Bureau, LEED, and Fair Trade USA Certification. Let’s take a look at these providers in more detail.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has over 18,500 developed international standards. Of significance here are ISO’s environmental management system standards titled ISO 14001.
ISO 14001 lays out the framework for setting up an effective environmental management system. ISO 14001 is well respected and highly recognized in the industry. However, completing ISO 14001 is a major undertaking and demands significant investment, time, and resources. This segregates smaller businesses from obtaining ISO certification and presents challenges such as:
- ISO projects can run for several months and require certified ISO consultants and auditors which is an expensive endeavor. Non-compliance fines are also significant.
- An ISO project demands a lot of time and resources and takes employees away from their day-to-day jobs.
- ISO projects require the right expertise and knowledge demanding more money and time.
B Corp Certification
The B Corp Certification platform is internationally recognized and verifies companies to the highest standards across 5 major areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. Requirement adherence is accessed by B Lab, which is a non-profit corporation.
Companies applying for B Corp Certification must undergo a rigorous process to meet a long list of significant conditions. Unfortuanately, not every company has the resources and budget to meet B Corp standards, verify compliance and complete the relevant audits.
Green Business Bureau
The Green Business Bureau program is a robust program that helps companies of all sizes become more sustainable. GBB’s online EcoAssessment and EcoPlanner tools include over 500 initiatives that help organizations become socially and environmentally responsible.
GBB certification is the most automated and guided certification available. Certification is entirely online and initiative based. The Green Business Bureau takes a scorecard approach to measuring and assessing sustainability. That is, for each completed sustainability initiative, a business is awarded points. The more initiatives completed over time, the higher a brand’s EcoScore. An EcoScore is then clearly communicated to stakeholders using a colored-based system of bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
The GBB seal is well-recognized meaning member businesses are revered for their commitment to sustainability and the environment. GBB’s clickable web seal takes customers and employees to a webpage that showcases a business’s certification level, total points, sustainability mission, and accomplishments.
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most well-known and prolific green building certification provider in the United States. Buildings that are LEED certified have been designed and built using strategies that improve performance in energy and water efficiency, reduce C02 emissions, improve indoor air quality and use resources effectively and sustainably.
Although LEED is an excellent certification provider for your buildings, the program does not expand beyond this. Other dimensions of business sustainability, such as waste management, carbon footprint reduction, and manufacturing process optimization, etc are not included. LEED should therefore be used alongside other certification providers.
Fair Trade USA Certification
Fair Trade USA Certification demonstrates a brand’s use of equitable trade practices at every level of the supply chain, ensuring fair treatment, prices, and environmental impact.
Fair Trade USA Certification is mainly dedicated to social sustainability across the supply chain. Certifications are available for a variety of different product categories and quarterly fees vary based on the type of business in question.
Ready to start your green business certification journey? To find out how to get started, read: 8 Steps to Green Business Certification With Little Monetary Investment.
Gain the financial support your need to obtain New York green business certification
When it comes to green business certification, organizations operating throughout New York are supported by the state to get certified. This support comes from the Business Council of Westchester (CW BCM), the country’s largest and most prestigious business membership organization. The CW BCM represents more than 1,000 members, including multinational corporations, hospitals, universities, biotech pioneers, not-for-profits, and entrepreneurs. Every company is accepted, regardless of size.
The Business Council of Westchester’s members enjoy unparalleled access to today’s top talent, thought leaders, diverse business development opportunities, and lawmakers representing each government level. In addition, organizations are supported to obtain green business certification with the Green Business Bureau. CW BCM and GBB’s partnership offers a 20% discount towards certification helping organizations throughout New York certify their green business.
New York city financially supports green business development
To realize the full benefits of sustainable business design, purpose-driven brands need to obtain green business certification which communicates their sustainability successes for authoritative guidance, and records and tracks progress towards their sustainability-related goals.
For the businesses of New York, this Green Business Bureau article hopes to have provided you with the guidance you need to obtain green business certification. As a sustainable city that strives to continuously improve on the capital’s sustainability credentials, you can rest assured that there’s adequate support available to help you create a sustainable organization and get certified for your efforts.
For more information around the support available across New York for green business certification and beyond, read: New York Sustainability: Tax Credits, Grants, and Green Funding.