Municipalities need a mechanism to engage business in their greenhouse gas reduction goals. Sustainable business is no longer a fringe concept. As consumers become aware of the impact of their purchases and businesses adopt policies to operate more efficiently, mitigate environmental risks, and expand market share, the concept of sustainability is being incorporated into the highest level of corporate governance.
However, small businesses, particularly low income and vulnerable businesses, don’t always have access to the resources and information to make informed environmental decisions and investments, even those that, ultimately, help their bottom line. While it may seem like small businesses have little environmental impact compared to the corporate giants, 90% of California business consist of 20 employees or less, and the collective action of all these businesses represents a huge overall impact on the environment.
The California Green Business Network (CAGBN), and the 40+ regional Green Business Certification Programs (GBP) around the State, have worked with over 4000 small businesses to become Green Business certified. The local programs receive State funding, along with local government or utility contributions, to provide businesses in their jurisdiction with Green Business services and recognition.
Climate Action Planning Goals Support
Utilizing software developed in part by Environmental Innovations and certification checklists administered by CAGBN ensures uniformity across all locally run Green Business programs, and makes program start-up, staffing, and administration something that could easily be incorporated into existing departments, and contributes to local Climate Action Plans and support other environmental programs and mandates. Green Business Programs are one of the more highly noted programs supported greenhouse gas reductions in municipalities throughout the State.
Steps for Developing a Program
The steps for developing a program are outlined by CAGBN. The first step toward developing a robust and long-lasting GBP is to identify and engage a stakeholder advisory group. This consists of mission aligned service providers, agencies, and business associations who have resources and expertise to bring to the table. Members of this group will help recruit businesses, provide environmental services and financial incentives, potentially serve as inspectors. and, most importantly, help contribute program funding in the future. The collaboration breaks down silos between various organizations and departments, enabling comprehensive and supportive services to be implemented simultaneously.
When starting a new Green Business Program, it is important to identify early adopters and key business leaders. Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Agencies or other business associations can serve as your community champions, helping to host lunch & learns, mixers, and now virtual, events and reach out to member businesses through their own communication channels. It is also key to identify Community Based Organizations (CBOs) who could help assure your program services minority and vulnerable businesses who historically have been left out of these types of programs.
Fortunately, extensive training materials have been developed by CAGBN, an active Basecamp network provides peer support for Green Business coordinators, and the web platform provides a customized program dashboard as well as a program web site template and hosting. The “Green Business Tracker” collects environmental data and reports on GHG and other environmental metrics within the various certification checklist categories – energy, water, waste, pollution prevention, and transportation.
For those municipalities who have funding and directive, but lack staff capacity, Environmental Innovations provides full service program implementation with complete Green Business recruitment, marketing, technical assistance, and data tracking solutions for multiple sectors – food, restaurant, medical, auto service, construction, landscape, lodging, office, landscape, etc.
EI currently manage the San Mateo County, Solano County, Santa Cruz County, San Benito County, and City of Carlsbad and Watsonville Green Business Programs and services small businesses within those jurisdictions. Promotional and collaborative services are also provided to the City and County of Monterey.
Because Environmental Innovations also provides staffing and leadership for CAGBN, we are fully immersed in standards, policies, challenges, and successful strategies of the various programs around the State. Quite simply, EI staff are the most qualified Green Business professionals in the State.
If your municipality or agency wants to promote the green economy with small businesses by rewarding them with a variety of incentives, let Environmental Innovations help you start and implement a successful Green Business Certification Program.