What is Green Business Certification?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Green business certification is a recognition that a business meets standards set by a certifying organization focusing on promotion of sustainable business practices. Many consumers expect businesses to be environmentally responsible and will seek out companies with green certification to do business with, making this a useful tool for businesses that want to grow their customer base. Consumers should be aware that there are myriad certifying programs of varying quality. It is advisable to look up the organization offering the recognition to see what kinds of standards it sets and how it enforces them.

Including a wind turbine or other source of alternative energy to power a business may enhance a company's chances of obtaining a green business certification.
Including a wind turbine or other source of alternative energy to power a business may enhance a company's chances of obtaining a green business certification.

To receive green business certification, a company must apply and provide documentation. The level of investigation an organization will use is quite variable. Some organizations take businesses at their word or rely on receipts and other proof of work to grant certification. Others want to perform an inspection. They will visit the business and determine whether it lives up to environmental ideals, looking for specific issues. They can also inspect products and packaging.

One qualification for green business certifications is use of recycled materials.
One qualification for green business certifications is use of recycled materials.

If the business passes muster, it will receive a green business certification. It may be able to use special labeling to provide information about it, and usually advertises the recognition in its promotional materials. Businesses with a reputation for being careful stewards of the environment can appeal to people with ecological concerns and may be eligible for government grants and other benefits. Environmental organizations may list them in catalogs of green businesses, providing companies with access to new customers.

Certification standards may be lax or stringent. Some organizations claim the process is proprietary and may only provide basic information, while others offer a detailed breakdown of what they look for in applications to see if businesses meet their standards. People who want to check on a green business certification can contact the certifying organization to confirm that a business really is listed, and can also ask for information on what the organization looks for and how it follows up with companies to see if they are still meeting the certification standard.

Some things a green business certification may indicate can include: a commitment to using renewable energy, pollution reduction measures, green building techniques to save energy and resources, use of recycled materials, and environmentally friendly supply chain management. People with specific concerns should ask if they are addressed, rather than assuming a certification includes those issues. Green certification does not necessarily include issues like animal and human welfare, for example.

Green roofs, or roofs which feature vegetation, is one green building method.
Green roofs, or roofs which feature vegetation, is one green building method.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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