Green Business Certifications

Many businesses have taken steps to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations and have improved their performance, but until now, customers had no way of recognizing which businesses were going "green."  To remedy this, the City of Santa Monica, CA, along with its Convention and Visitors Bureau, and its Chamber of Commerce, have joined together with an organization called Sustainable Works to certify and recognize green businesses in the community.

Sustainable Works is a non-profit environmental education organization that has been conducting its programs in the City of Santa Monica and at Santa Monica College for more than eight years. Its mission is to foster a culture of sustainability in cities, colleges, and businesses.

The Green Business Certification Program is entirely voluntary, intended to encourage local businesses to take some easy, inexpensive, and simple actions that are good for both their bottom line and the environment.

According to the standards for becoming certified, a Green Business...

- Conserves resources and prevents pollution
- Protects environmental and public health, and
- Strengthens its bottom line through operating efficiencies

Proponents of the Certification claim that Certified Green Businesses holds marketing edge over their competition, because consumers recognize and appreciate the reduced environmental impact of such businesses. These businesses also enjoy improved employee morale, and widespread recognition as a business leader.

Certification is open to business that maintain a physical, commercial location containing at least 500 square feet within the borders of Santa Monica, that have at least five employees on their payroll, and that fall into one of the following categories:

- Office
- Retail Store
- Restaurant
- Grocery
- Hotel
- Motel

As the GBC program grows, membership and Certification will be thrown open to additional business categories.

Businesses that apply and are found to meet the standards receive a Green Business Certification (GBC) certificate suitable for hanging on the wall, and a window decal featuring the GBC logo.

Generally, applicant business enroll in the Green Business Certification program and then choose from the GBC checklist a specific number of measures/ actions they will undertake. The actions generally involve conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste. Once the business complies with the required number of measures, it submits certain forms and written materials along with payment to the Green Business Certification Coordinator, who then schedules an onsite visit at the business to verify that the selected actions are in place.

The requirements for Certification are "rolling," in that they are revised regularly to reflect the latest in environmental resources, the newest technology, and the most recent laws, as well as any applicable rebates and incentives. New requirements are due to be posted in January of the year in which they take effect. Businesses must meet only the requirements that were in force when they registered for the program.

Each Certification is good for two years, and can be re-earned for another two years as many times as the business wishes to do so.