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Green Business Certification Benefits: Is My Business Ready

Green business certifications, also known as “sustainable business certifications”, are valuable programs that many benefits. A green certification can help companies demonstrate their sustainable operations, products, services and practices to employees, customers, partners and investors. It can elevate you reputation and brand. It can attract and retain employees.

But is your business green enough for certification? How do you become a greener business that can pass a certification? What is the return on investment of completing a green certification? Can I complete a certification online to minimize my costs?

In this article, we answer those questions and discuss all the benefits of completing a green business certification online. If you want your business to be a great business with passionate employees and customers who respect and admire your business and brand, you’ll need to credibly and transparently show them you care about the environment and social responsibility.

Benefits of Self Certifications and Online Certifications

There are now several green business certifications which can be completed online and verified remotely to minimize time, effort and costs.

For example, Green Business Bureau’s (GBB) certification program is entirely online and self-paced. Unlike other green certification programs, GBB’s does not require any consulting services or onsite assessment services for our members. They provide online guided software to help members reach their sustainability goals without needing to spend thousands of dollars in consulting fees.

Green Business Certification Challenges

A green business certification is not something an organization simply decides to implement without investment. It takes the commitment of people’s time and business capital. But an online self certification can significantly minimize the investment and guarantee the return will outweigh the initial costs made. Hence, certification makes business sense.

Challenge #1: Knowing Where To Start

You want to become a certified sustainable business, but where do you start? How do you prioritize tasks and initiatives? What tasks should you assign to your employees? These are the common questions executives and managers often face. Fortunately, there are tons of online resources that can help, including guides on how to get started (with tips and plans). First take the time to create a quick green mission statement and green team for your business. For more information on how you can do this, read How to Create the Perfect Green Mission Statement and 10 Best Ways to Build and Manage a Green Team or Sustainability Committee.

If you end up using the Green Business Bureau Certification, they provide an online EcoAssessment to quickly determine how green your business is and what level of certification (Bronze, Gold or Platinum) you would achieve.

Challenge #2: Finding the Right People

Some expertise is required to get certified, but an online program provides the guidance online and lets your employees drive. This employee engagement approach embeds sustainability into your company’s culture and builds a workforce that’s committed to being green. To learn more check out this Green Culture Guide: How to Build a Workforce Committed to Sustainability. It’s most likely that you already have employees who want to dedicate their time to help your company become greener. Green Business Bureau also provide an online EcoPlanner and to find green initiatives ordered by level, cost, and impact. Think of the GBB software as your sustainability guide presenting green initiatives you can progressively work through. You can start with “low hanging fruit” initiatives that will have a big positive impact first, and then gradually take on more green actions to raise your score.

Challenge #3: Lack of Time

Effectively executing your certification project and plan will demand an investment of time, from yourself and your employees. To overcome this challenge, you’d need to ask the big question: How do you minimize the time needed to achieve your goals without compromising on quality and being thorough? Hiring a part-time consultant or speaking with a sustainability analyst is an effective way to jumpstart the project. A few hours of time is all you likely need and this may even be provided at not charge from the certification vendor. Typically the online certification also minimize the need to hire experts. It automates repetitive tasks, coordinates your team, and manage your workload. And of course, there are online sustainability tools and training designed to drive in-house green change easily and quickly.

Challenge #4: Lack of Money

There are real investment costs associated a certification. The certification programs are also not free, but they are also not expensive, often starting at a few hundred dollars. The bigger investment come from tapping internal resources in the form of people, content, training, and operational changes. With this in mind, try to avoid spending money on expensive consulting or unproven solutions and technology. You can minimize these costs by using online sustainability management and learning solutions. Such solutions will deliver training and educate your team.  Green Business Bureau’s EcoPlanner and EcoLibrary provide the appropriate green certification tools and guides to do this at your own pace.

Benefits of Green Business Certifications

We know consumers and employees prefer green businesses. They flock to companies that care about the environment and are socially responsible. They avoid “greenwashers” like the plague. By greenwashers, we mean companies that make false claims about their positive impact on the environment just to drive sales and profit.

Green business certifications are a great way to avoid green washing and a perfect way to demonstrate a company’s commitment to sustainability in a credible way. Trusted third-party organizations like LEED, B Corp and Green Business Bureau provide certification programs that can prove your company’s green cred. If you’re a CEO, founder or small business owner, showing the world you care about the environment and social responsibility is now table stakes for creating a great company.

There are many benefits to becoming a certified green business and then telling your green story in the right way. All of them are very tangible in either soft dollars (brand, morale, trust) or hard dollars (increased sales, lower customer and employee churn). Here are the top benefits of sharing your sustainability story credibly:

Improved Reputation Without Greenwashing

Companies that are greener tend to be perceived as more ethical, reliable and responsible. “Being Green” is often associated with high quality as well.

Elevated Brand

Letting people know your business cares about the environment and society will associate “doing good” with your brand and improve your overall brand identity.  Sustainable businesses are also perceived as being more honest, with higher quality products and services.

Higher Sales, New Contracts

Being known as a green business will attract new customers, specifically consumers and companies who seek out sustainable businesses, products and services. In some cases, you may be able to compete for business and bid on contracts that require proof of sustainability.

Competitive Differentiation

Being sustainable allows you to stand out when competing for business.  In fact, it is common today to see requests for proposals requiring sustainability information from competing vendors bidding on a contract.

Increased Transparency & Trust

By sharing your completed initiatives and certification level publicly, you demonstrate your commitment to sustainability openly and create a more trustworthy relationship with your stakeholders.

Universal Understanding

By taking the time to summarize the tenets of your sustainability program and mission and then sharing those publicly, you ensure all stakeholders on the “same page”, i.e. everyone has the same understanding of your sustainability priorities and goals.

Stronger Workforce, Better Talent Recruitment

Employees, especially the younger generation, seek out employers who are social and environmentally responsible.  Being green and promoting this will attract the best employees and enable you to hire exceptional purpose-driven employees.

Improved Morale, Less Attrition

Employees care about the environment and want to know the company they work for also cares.  Your employees will be more fulfilled and satisfied knowing they work for a company that is environmentally responsible.

Higher Employee Engagement

Employees enjoy participating in projects, programs and events that support causes they believe in, like protecting the planet.

Purpose-Driven Culture

If you are a leader at your company and want to create a purpose-driven green culture,  formally communicating your mission and commitments is the foundation that will help accomplish that.

Lower Operational Costs

Becoming a certified green business requires you to implement sustainability initiatives, many of which make your business more efficient. Green initiatives like LED lighting, timers, and solar energy will lower your energy bills and save you money.

Less Waste

Becoming a certified green business will force to improve your waste management. Improving how you manage inventory, what you buy and how you recycle and reuse materials will save you money.

Get Serious About Sustainability

A certification program often becomes the foundation of a company’s sustainability efforts. The benefits of a certification for business goes well beyond a rating, a seal or certificate of proof. The process itself becomes a journey to create a green corporate culture and a more sustainable, socially responsible business. A sustainability certification program engages employees and drives company-wide commitment and purpose. Of course, the final official certification is very valuable. It not only demonstrates your commitment to employees and partners internally, but it verifies your sustainability to customers and the community. This is especially important when customers require or prefer to work with verifiably sustainable businesses.

Green Certification Provides Structure To Your Sustainability Program

A green business certification program covers many sustainability areas across all departments and functions in your company.  Initiatives that you’ve completed and that you plan to complete lead to being more energy efficient, reducing waste, reducing your carbon footprint, minimizing pollution, eliminating plastic, changing how you manufacture, and sourcing from other sustainable companies. All the pieces will to be tied together.  Here are the most common areas a certification will cover:

The commitments you make and pursue should be focused on the primary sustainability drivers for your industry and company. They should be the most impactful initiatives after analyzing your operations, materials, manufacturing, products, services, business functions, supply chain, policies and procedures.

Align Your Commitments With Your Executive Imperatives

If you become the program manager for your certification, be sure to work with your executive team and green team to  ensure your public statements and commitments are aligned with the company’s mission and goals. When describing your commitments, be sure to be succinct but specific. Describe the goal and how exactly you will achieve it. The commitments need to be sincere, achievable and in your realm of control.  If you are a GBB member, pick your top ones and include them in your public GBB EcoProfile with the highest priority initiative being listed first. Remember, this is your public profile viewed by employees and customers, so be sure to be honest and realistic.

Share Your Green Story and Accomplishments with the World

A certification is a way to tell your green story to the world. In fact, the green business certification comes with a public-facing EcoProfile webpage that incorporates the best practices of leading companies in using the Mission, Priorities/Commitments, Shared Accomplishments & Measurement approach.  It mimic some of the best practices from companies like Patagonia, Google, Apple, Burton Snowboards, and King Arthur’s Flour. They all do an amazing job of telling their story in a way that is inspirational, sincere and credible. The online Green Business Bureau EcoProfile is made up of three elements:

GREEN STORY

The EcoProfile Green Story section has two elements: a green mission statement and a list of your highest priority sustainability commitments. These commitments summarize your most important sustainability goals and how you will achieve them.

CERTIFICATION and ECOSCORE

The GBB Certification Dashboard is the well-known foundation of GBB’s program. It summarizes your current sustainable business state and progress, and includes  the total number of EcoPoints(™) accumulated by completing various green initiatives in the GBB library, your GBB Certification level (Member, Aware, Gold, Platinum) and your list of completed green initiatives.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The new EcoProfile Accomplishments section provides an opportunity for your business to proudly highlight its major sustainability accomplishments, including awards and recognition received, participation in 3rd Party environmental organizations, successful completion of major initiatives and commitments, or major ESG milestones like becoming “Zero Waste” or “Carbon Neutral”. It’s also a chance to recognize achievements by teams and individuals. It’s a great way to engage employees and customers by sharing awards, pictures, quotes, and videos.  It’s also a great way to celebrate success and add color, passion, and detail to your sustainability story.  Your accomplishments are likely noteworthy and impressive, elevating your brand.  The EcoProfile Accomplishments webpage  will be discussed in more detail in an upcoming blog.

SUMMARY: Green Business Certification Benefits

If you’re a business leader who believes social and environmental responsibility are just as important as profit, then you should consider formalizing your commitment via a 3rd party sustainability certification. An official certification can demonstrate your commitment to social and environmental causes in a credible and genuine way and help you stand out from the greenwashing that some companies unfortunately partake in. More importantly, a formal sustainability and social responsibility program will shift your corporate priorities from pure profit and help create a corporate culture that values all stakeholders – employees, customers, partners, the local community and the environment.

Companies are pursuing certifications to formalize their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility and put “good” ahead of profits in a programmatic way that changes the fabric of a company’s culture. Certified sustainable companies are redefining what success means in business and measuring their performance against goals that include protecting the environment and taking care of employees and the local community.

Rather than simply making money at all costs, regardless of whether natural resources are harmed or people are exploited, these certified companies believe that business should be a force for good and that all their stakeholders should know that the company is committed to using their business as a platform for good. An official 3rd party certification demonstrates that commitment and is also good for business as it elevates a company’s brand in the eyes of most consumers. According to a Cone Communications CSR report, 92% of consumers have a more positive image of a sustainable and socially responsible company and 87% would be more likely to trust that company.

Green Business Bureau

The Green Business Bureau Certification and EcoProfile includes a CERTIFICATION webpage which lists your EcoScore, level and completed initiatives. This is essentially how GBB measures and reports your sustainability performance.  GBB’s certification process is entirely initiative based, so your company will receive EcoPoints for each and every activity it completes with more impactful initiatives earning more EcoPoints. 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.  You can find out more about the GBB EcoAssessment and certification here.

Becoming a truly sustainable business is not easy. Companies that address climate change, protect the environment and are socially responsible, should be able to share their success and accomplishments and earn the benefits that come along with being a leader in sustainability. The GBB Certification and green business Seal provide the ideal way to tell that story and be recognized as a leader in sustainable business.

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