by Marcos Cordero, LEED AP, CEO and Co-founder
Going green offers your business a significant marketing edge, setting you apart from your competitors. The challenge arises when trying to impart your greenness” to your customers. In fact, according to a Clearworks study titled Green Products and Services — A Viewpoint from Consumers and Small and Medium Business, both consumers and small businesses expressed skepticism over green” claims, and 50% said their doubts over green” claims acted as a barrier to purchasing more greenly”.
While it may seem like a challenge to prove” the green-ness of your product or service, it’s actually an opportunity to add credibility through green business certification. Green business certification demonstrates your company’s commitment to, and verifies your implementation of, sustainable business practices.
There are many green business certifications on the market today, some that require a significant effort to achieve certification, and some that offer a certificate for a price (known as greenwashing”). While it might seem attractive to go online, purchase your documentation and be done with it, today’s eco-conscious consumers are becoming more savvy about these programs and won’t accept a seal they know is just greenwashing.
With that in mind, how do you find a green business certification that you can proudly display and know is respected and honored? When researching green business certification programs, look for one that will:
- Offer credit for your existing practices many businesses have at least some green practices in place already, look for a certification that will reward you for your forethought.
- Be transparent any certification program you choose should be transparent not only in its own practices, but offer transparency to your customers are well by offering a tool that allows anyone to see the green measures you’ve taken in your business.
- Be verifiable address skepticism and doubt about the veracity of your claims. Independent verification of your green business certification will help assure your customers that you have actually done the work to go green.
- Be easy to use the certification program should be fairly simple to access and clearly written. Look for a tool that offers an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process anyone in your office can use.
- Focus on your needs the certification should be affordable, with a focus on your business goals and a clear outline of how your initial investment will improve efficiencies and save costs. Look for an organization that isn’t intent on selling products to members.
- Offer a clear road map the program should help you track your efforts and results and offer measurable guidelines on how to achieve the next level of certification.
- Be nationally recognized promote national green activity and suppliers, not be limited to a specific region or area.
- Provide support look for an organization that provides education about green products and practices, has staff members available to answer questions and provide help when needed, provides resources to help you not only grow your own environmental knowledge, and tools to help you use your certification to grow your business.
Green business certification is one more tool in your green marketing arsenal. A valid, respected certification will enable your business to overcome consumer skepticism and appeal to a wide market of green buyers.
For more information, read the Green Business Bureau’s article Green Business Certification Sharpens Marketing Edge.