There are some good reasons to become a certified green business: it attracts new customers, mitigates operational costs and makes a brand more attractive.
Although recent generations aren't as green as they say they are, there is a rise in what environmental advisor Andrew Winston calls "conflicted consumers" who have social and ethical concerns about what they buy. They are not necessarily willing to pay extra for it, but more and more people are expecting a certain level of sustainability in what they buy. A company can can show their customers that they care about sustainability by becoming a certified green business.
There are different kinds of green certification, offered by a plethora of sites, but the best way to go green is simple and straightforward:
1. Evaluate your green policies and decide what your aims are. Organize policies, memos and evaluation reports so that you know what you've done and what needs work.
2. If you want green products, consider joining the Green Business Bureau (GBB). GBB provides green verification—its seal is a nationally recognized symbol of commitment to sustainability. GBB also offers marketing, media and cost-savings support. Be prepared to have your green claims scrutinized by a "local green champion staff" during the application process.
If you want to focus on making your buildings green, look to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED provides an independent, third-party verification framework for identifying and implementing green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
3. Examine all areas of your company and compare your green practices to the recommended standards. GBB provides a step-by-step assessment online. Do everything you need to do to be confident that you'll earn certification.
4. Hire a certified green consultant that will make sure you are complying with environmental regulations and help you implement a focused green agenda.
5. Promote the mindset of sustainability in your company and follow through with your initiatives. GBB will provide you with help every step along the way but you and your staff will have to make the effort.
By following these steps and keeping up with regulations, your company will gain market visibility as being green. With a GBB membership seal, for example, your customers will be able to view the entire list of your completed initiatives so that your green efforts are transparent.
Learn more in OPEN Forum's Going Green 2012 series.
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