Becoming Green Certified
By Michael Grodin – ETMG—CGO (Chief “Green” Officer)
Green Certified is not about getting another badge for our website; it’s about committing to a way of doing business that is both good for the planet and good for our business. It also means we are making an indefinite commitment to a work style that reduces all types of waste, not just using recycled paper and turning off the lights.
Getting Green Certified took a bit of work and several weeks—but it was worth it because we knew we would make a difference right away. It was a two step process: One, the application, inspection, and approvals to get the actual certification, and two, the ongoing shift in business practices which makes our business more green. The practices we made at ETMG have led to changes in our employees’ work and personal spaces. Employees use mugs instead of disposable cups, buy recycled products, use company provided reusable shopping bags, along with turning off the lights, etc. Since we work at home, our children see and model this behavior. We are leading by example, and willing to spend the time and resources to make our community a better place to live.
The application part was relatively simple. Go to the Bay Area Green Business Program (BAGBP) site at www.greenbiz.ca.gov and fill out the application. Once our application was processed, we were scheduled for an inspection. The inspection is where we got ranked on our current level of “green-ness,” and where they identify what changes we needed to make to become minimally certifiable. They examined all areas of consumption and showed us how we could make minor changes to make a big impact.
The ongoing shift in business practices is what is a bit surprising—it was very broad in scope, hence its impact was significant. Here’s what we did:
We installed motion sensing light switches, lights on timers, compact fluorescent bulbs, and switchable power strips.
They made sure we had low flow toilets, shower-heads and faucets, and high efficiency appliances.
They had us assign someone to examine monthly utility usage to look for “leaks” and other abuses.
In the landscaping department we installed sprinklers on timers, with the timers set to non-sun hours, and drought tolerant shrubs and ground covers.
We use ceramic coffee mugs, re-usable water bottles, and purchase soda in large liter bottles not small cans.
Recycling of common office/household items is also expected, with recycling bins throughout the office for paper and batteries.
We consolidate out-of-office trips to reduce auto emissions.
We converted as many business meetings as possible into teleconferencing meetings to reduce travel. Employee incentives for working at home are a plus.
In our weekly employee newsletter, we remind employees to make choices that are earth friendly, providing tips and helpful resources.
It is mandatory to use recycled products in all parts of the business. This and other tips are highlighted in our company policy manual requiring actions needed to reduce our overall carbon footprint.
We post green tips on our blog, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and offer free reusable grocery bags to those who ask. Request your free bag at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your mailing address.
In short, becoming Green Certified was an overall change in all areas of our business that positively affects the environment. We hope you see the value in becoming Green Certified. The BAGBP is for all sizes and types of businesses not just large or retail as evidenced by ETMG; we are a small business but making a big impact.