Green Business Certification: What You Need to Know

by Courtney Ramirez on June 29, 2010

Going green is important – no matter whether you are doing it in your own home or in your office. While it’s good to be green in all aspects of your life, there’s an added benefit to getting your office space green. A company that chooses to use eco-friendly practices can become a “certified green business.” Green certification will allow you to market your company as a green friendly business that cares about the environment. If you’re interested in the certification process, here are a few common questions that business owners have and answers.

What is green business certification?

Green business certification is a relatively new process. It’s a mark of approval that your business participates in measures to help save water, save power and save resources. You’ll need to meet a certain series of criteria that show that you’re making efforts to reduce your company’s environmental impact.

Why should my company be certified green?

Being certified green can help your business save water, energy and raw materials used for businesses. Your eco-friendly practices will reduce your company’s impact on the environment and save you money to boot. Green certification will increase your standing within the business community and with your target market as well. You can be listed among green businesses in your area, which may bring you in new business.

When can I be certified as a green business?

Certification requires you to complete certain measures in the dealings of your business. Each certification board will have a slightly different set of criteria. However, the certification normally includes some of the following:

  • adopting an environmental purchasing policy to buy products that are made from recycled material or that are energy efficient.
  • recycling all possible paper products
  • stopping the usage of Styrofoam and unnecessary plastics and stopping junk mail delivery.
  • re-use materials by using the back of previously printed on paper, re-using old envelopes and re-using garbage can liners.
  • install light timers to reduce usage of lights or replace standard bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.

Who issues the certification?

Although there is no official governing board of green certification, there are several different options for green business certification. Most cities and counties offer some form of certification. Counties across the country are interested in making work environments safer and more eco-friendly for their resident businesses. In addition to localized green certification programs, there are also national third party certification programs that help you get certified.

How does my company get certified?

Most business certification programs will include a checklist that your business can use in order to detail the work that your company is doing to make your environment more eco-friendly. You’ll need to meet a minimum standard in each major category of usage to be certified.

Where can I learn more about certification?

Contact your county or city to see if green business certification is available in your area. You can also contact national companies and ask for certification standards. You can find certified companies from the U.S. Government’s official list of green business certification resources.

Courtney Ramirez
Research Analyst, Pacific Business Centers

Courtney’s research for Pacific Business Centers focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and office space infrastructure


Steve Ross July 1, 2010 at 7:04 am

Thanks, Courtney. Are any of your Business Centers Green Certified? If so, how long did it take you? Have you seen the benefits of marketing yourself as a “Green Business?”

Keith Warner July 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

@Steve – I am working with Santa Clara County to have the PBC South Bay centers certified. The longest wait time is for the contractor to change out toilets to low flow. There are several items on the certification list that are “suggestions”, but the low flow toilets are “required”. There is a waiting list for the work to be done – But it’s free! The county pays for it. That will be done in a couple weeks and then the rest of the items will only take a week to put in place. Then, as the PBC South Bay Managing Partner, I plan to begin emphasizing our certification in all our marketing! (and, of course, social media). Stay tuned.

Shirley Gallagher July 7, 2010 at 3:19 am

Regarding the low flow toilets,
Some recommendations rather than the replacement option.
HIPPO bags or even litre bottles filled with water in the cisterns reduce the volume of water used.
Also there are different types of stop/start mechanisms that allow the user to decide how much water to use. These are used on the European continent in countries such as Frnace, Turkey etc. They suck water into the system preventing the water being released.
For example I fitted a push button instead of the standard handle, which will stop the water on release of button.

Keith Warner July 8, 2010 at 12:05 am

Thanks Shirley, good suggestions. Most of the toilets in our building are the commercial type that don’t have a tank to place the bag or bottle into. I know at home we use to just put a brick in the tank and it would use that much less water to flush. I’m looking into the waterless urinals, but so far i’m told that will take more extensive plumbing work. So much to learn, but every little bit helps!

Courtney July 8, 2010 at 9:19 pm

there was an excellent article in this month’s Wired about waterless urinals and the truth, or lack thereof, behind the plumbing claims. It was a fascinating piece.

Keith Warner July 9, 2010 at 12:22 am

Thanks Courtney, I’ll check it out.

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