What’s Your Small Business’ Next Step To Going Green? Sustainable Business Certification
Thank you to Spark Business from Capital One for sponsoring this feature highlighting small business.
Small businesses have so many accomplishments to be proud of these days. They continue to be the anchor firmly holding America’s economy in place against ever-shifting fiscal storms. They have their finger on the pulse of a grateful community, building relationships with people who are far more than just customers.
What else could raise small businesses higher in our esteem? Going green. Lowering one’s carbon footprint is a decision many Americans have made in their lives, along with the personal sacrifices that go along with such a choice. Seeing a local company also take sustainability to heart can draw environmentally conscious consumers closer to building a lasting business relationship.
One way for a small to medium business to put their efforts toward going green on display is through certification. There are a few green certifying organizations in the United States, including Green Plus and LEED, each with their own unique method of evaluating an existing small business, and awarding points toward a green certificate.
Green Plus began in 2004 as a partnership between Duke University, the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and the Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina Chambers of Commerce. Since then, the program has expanded quite a bit, now working with more than 400 businesses in 18 states. They offer scholarships to help small businesses perform upgrades in support of certification.
Green Plus is a two-year program designed for small to medium sized businesses, providing education and networking designed to also improve a company’s bottom line while meeting green-based objectives. The process begins with a diagnostic survey of a business’ efforts toward sustainability in the categories of people, planet and performance. Ultimately, Green Plus program members earn certification through their hard efforts, if they score at least an 80% overall, and at least 70% in all three categories.
Another major source of green business certification is LEED, considered to be the preeminent green certification program, with a series of certification levels provided through the U.S. Green Building Council. For a business to earn LEED certification, they must satisfy all LEED prerequisites and earn a minimum 40 points on a 110-point LEED rating system scale. Existing businesses are evaluated based on maintenance programs, water and energy usage, use of environmentally friendly products, sustainable purchase policies, waste stream management, and indoor environmental quality. Levels achievable through the LEED program include Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.Continued on the next page