Green Business

Welcome to the Green Business Program Resource. The purpose of this resource is to help you learn about what a green business is and what it takes to develop one.

What is a green business program?

A green business program is a program that promotes and encourages the adoption of best management practices by businesses with the aim to reduce its environmental footprint. The program then verifies that those businesses meet higher standards of environmental performance and, if those standards are deemed sufficient, they are then certified as “green”. Green business programs usually involve a partnership of local governmental agencies and, in some cases, non profit organizations. Members of those partnerships then work together to help those small businesses comply with all environmental regulations by taking action to conserve resources, prevent pollution, and minimize waste.

How does a business benefit by being certified as “green”?

There are several ways a business benefits from green certification, which includes, but is not limited to: 1) free publicity from government publications that promote green businesses as preferred places to shop or dine; 2) a healthier relationship with regulatory governmental bodies, 3) recognition as an environmental leader; 4) an increase in savings by improvement of operational efficiency through reduced waste in all of its forms; 5) an overall improvement of employee morale, safety, and health; 6) a marketing edge over competition, and 7) satisfaction that becoming certified is simply the “right thing” to do.

What does a typical business have to do to be certified “green”?

This depends on your local green business program (if there is one). But typically, a green business program generally requires the following to be considered for certification:

  • Compliance with all environmental regulations;
  • Implementation of water conservation practices (where applicable);
  • Implementation of energy conservation practices (where applicable);
  • Implementation of waste reduction practices (where applicable);
  • Implementation of pollution prevention measures to improve overall efficiency and reduce overall waste generation.
  • Development and implementation of a continuous improvement plan;

Where can I see examples of green business programs and learn how they work?

Examples of Different Types of Green Business Programs

Established in 2008, the Green Business Bureau is a national program designed to certify and market green businesses. It offers an attractive, easy-to-use website, and a robust marketing program (including a logo, marketing partnerships, social networking, press releases, and an online directory of the green businesses). Businesses receive the logo after completing a checklist in six areas, including: break room and bathroom, business practices and organization, community involvement, copying and printing, office space, and outdoors and transport. The logo is offered in two tiers, gold and platinum, depending on the measures completed. Consumers may click on the logo on a business’ website and find which measures have been done. Businesses pay an annual fee, and pay extra for on-site verification, which is noted in their logo information. GBB has approximately 5,000 businesses, including its regular GBB program, a Green Cities program, and a non-certification green business program it runs for small and medium-sized businesses associated with Intuit.

Also established in 2008, the Green Alliance is a green business certification program operating in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Members fill out a sustainability evaluation in such areas as energy use, waste, consumer education, community involvement, and sustainable product offerings. A “report card” is produced based on the evaluation. The business then receives an overall numerical grade as well as grades in each area of the evaluation, and is compared to the industry standard. There is no independent evaluation. An annual fee is required at approximately $3,000. Businesses receive strong marketing content, including the Green Alliance seal and plaque, social networking, monthly networking meetings, and listing in the online business directory. For a $35 annual fee, consumers can also participate by receiving a membership card and discounts at many member businesses.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) comprises a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. It was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. It operates in the United States and 30 other countries. LEED certifies buildings, not business operations.

The Green Business Challenge engages local businesses and commercial property managers in a fun, friendly competition to save money, energy, water, and waste, improving their business’ environmental performance. This innovative program in turn helps local governments reach their energy and climate goals. ICLEI co-developed this proven program with the City of Chicago, and now offers the software and guidance resources necessary for any local government, school, or corporation to customize and implement their own Challenge program. The program relies on self-guided online checklist completion and compares participants to each other to generate some friendly competition, but does not provide verification.

Green marketplaces listed online, such as eBay Green, generally focus on buying and selling green products, rather than featuring individual green businesses. Green Alliance, noted above, features and supports both businesses and their products and services, and establishes a consumer following.

California Green Business Program


The Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) has long worked with the state of California to develop their green business program and network. They have a particularly robust program that is has a good certification model with a green business checklist and an environmental measures database that many states would like to model.

The mission of the California Green Business Program (CAGBP) is to lead the state and nation in developing a healthy green economy with small and medium business partners (SMBs). Led by a coalition of California State, local and NGOs, the program achieves its mission by 1) providing technical assistance in best environmental management practices for businesses and 2) recognizing and promoting SMBs that meet the environmental standards set by the California Green Business Network. The Certified Green Business brand is recognizable statewide; understood, respected, and trusted by consumers and businesses.

Since 1996 the CAGBP has proven that with in-person technical assistance and incentives, thousands of SMBs have made lasting changes that improve their bottom line, protect the environment, green the workforce, and provide a green marketplace for conscientious consumers. The program economically benefits both businesses and the state. Certified businesses have reduced utility costs $12.8 million annually, gained access to new markets, and increased their customer loyalty. The program is also a cost effective vehicle for State of California environmental agencies to meet their air quality, water, and waste goals because it promotes the regulations and best practices they promulgate, but is primarily funded and implemented by local agencies.

Since its inception in the San Francisco Bay Area, the program has grown into a network of 21 local programs serving 50% of the population of California. The program model was adopted and formalized into the California Green Business Program in 2011 (AB 913 (Feuer)). Following this formalization, the CAGBP developed a strategic vision to serve 40,000 California SMBs by 2040.


Network of Green Businesses: The network of businesses created by the CAGBP provides an outlet for utilities and environmental agencies to act as early adopters of new technologies, policies and practices. Green Businesses were the first to retrofit lighting to LEDs, the first to use aqueous parts washers instead of volatile solvents, the first to switch to 1.28 gallon per flush toilets. Their Network of businesses often are the early drivers of new technologies.

For more information, contact:


Green Business Engagement National Network (GBENN)


On May 9-10, 2013 at the National Summit of Green Business Engagement Programs, program managers of sustainable business engagement programs sometimes referred to as “competitions”, “challenges” or “certifications” convened in Boston, MA. The event was hosted by a Better City (ABC) Boston and The BARR Foundation. There were 38 attendees, 14 states and 18 programs. Summit attendees identified critical factors for program success: funding, performance metrics, evaluation, utility engagement, programming, and recognition. The top item that came out (by vote) was to create a national network of programs. So the Green business engagement national network (GBENN) was formed and it is currently being facilitated by A Better City and ICLEI.

Mission: Facilitate sharing and relationship-building among green and/or sustainable business engagement programs across the U.S. in order to advance the national interests of such locally-focused approaches and spread effective practices.

Scope: National thinking and collaborating, but local action and uniqueness.

Following the Summit, GBENN hopes to build the network with a LinkedIn group and prioritize a work plan consisting of: quarterly webinars, standardizing reporting metrics, platform to share resources and planning the next summit.
WSPPN and GBENN worked collectively on a series of “how-to” green business webinars. See link.


2013 National Summit on Green Business Engagement Programs:

California Green Business Program
Chula Vista Green Business Challenge
DowntownDC Challenge
Illinois Green Business Association
Chicago Green Office Challenge
Challenge for Sustainability (Boston)
Center for EcoTechnology (Southern New England)
Class 5 Energy (Minneapolis)
Westchester County Green Business Challenge (New York)
El Paso Green Office Challenge
Arlington Green Games (Virginia)
Loudon County Green Business Challenge (Virginia)
Seattle 2030
Sustain Dane (Madison)

“How-to” Green Business Webinars


Watch previously recorded webinars that are part of the WSPPN & GBENN How-to Green Business Webinar Series that will help new green business programs get established, marketed, and financed.

Recorded on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

After a convening for the first time during a May conference in Boston, a smaller group of colleagues who run Green Business Engagement Programs across the Country has formed a national network to work jointly on issues of shared interest. A Better City, a Boston-based non-profit membership business association, and ICLEI, a non-profit membership municipality organization, are co-facilitating this group of National Green Business Engagement programs and are holding the first in a series of National Green Business “How-to” Webinars. The first one hosted by WSPPN is ‘Green Business Data Tracking Systems: the End to the Excel Nightmare’.



Donna Walden introduces WSPPN and the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) – Download Presentation

David Straus and Mihir Parikh (A Better City, Boston) will introduce the National Green Business Task Force and ABC/ICLEI, and give a summary of known programs and survey results. Download Presentation

System 1: Warren Gaskill reviews the Energy Stewards® web platform; its development, in what circumstances it can be used successfully, and its key features. Energy Stewards® web platform is an efficient tool that successfully supports a range of project portfolios, engaging businesses, medical facilities, religious congregations, schools and units of government to take action to reduce financial and environmental costs. Download Presentation

System 2: Jo Fleming presents on a web-based tool funded and created by the State of California and several local jurisdictions within to track and measure Green Business Program efforts. Download Presentation

System 3: Caroline Teng presents an overview of available ICLEI web-based tools that allow communities to easily administer their green business engagement programs, track data, and launch a friendly competition to encourage resource efficiency. Download Presentation

Recorded on March 12, 2014.

How do you effectively market your green business program? It’s not just advertising and social media. This webinar will explore some business models and case studies of communities that have successfully launched and grown their green business programs. This is a must watch for those who are currently considering a program or have recently launched a program.



Donna Walden (WSPPN) introduces speakers – Download Presentation

Mihir Parikh (A Better City, Boston) and Caroline Teng (ICLEI) introduce the Green Business Engagement National Network (GBENN) – Download Presentation

Presenter #1 Anna Frankel (San Francisco Department of Environment) speaks on the San Francisco Green Business Program – Value Marketing – Download Presentation
Presenter #2: Kevin Dick (Delta Institute Chicago) speaks on “Appealing to the Individual – Marketing Using Gamification – Download Presentation

Presenter #3: Michelle Castagnola (City of Chula Vista, CA) speaks on “How to Simultaneously Attract New Businesses While Providing Benefits to Your Existing Participants”. – Download Presentation

Recorded on June 11, 2014.

This is part of a how-to webinar series on green business sponsored by the Western Sustainability & Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) and the Green Business Engagement National Network (GBENN) focused on finding essential funding for your program.

Speakers include representatives from the California Green Business Network, the Illinois Green Business Association, A Better City, and ICLEI.



Overview (WSPPN) – Download Presentation
Mihir Parikh (A Better City, Boston) – Download Presentation
Eli Yewdall (ICLEI) – Download Presentation
Yalmaz Siddiqui (Office Depot) – Download Presentation
Mariella Puerto – (The Barr Foundation) – Download Presentation
Cassandra Carroll (Illinois Green Business Association) – Download Presentation

Recorded on September 10, 2014.

New Green Business Programs are being started across the nation. Where does one start? What are the benefits and how much does it cost? They’re many different approaches from self -certified and gamification to third party audits. Hear about different programs that are working and determine an approach that makes sense for you?

California passed AB 913 which took effect in January 2012 to facilitate growth and development of the local government Green Business programs across the state. Today, with 21 programs across the state and more than 2800 SMBs certified, they have collectively reduced 171,677 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Learn from Jo Fleming from the California Green Business Program, how to start a Green Business Program, how they work, and positive effects on a community.

Gail Suzuki Jones from the State Energy Office in Hawaii will explain how Hawaii started their green business programs, initiated new projects and attracted participation from champions, mentors and student interns. This session will provide agencies, non-profits, as well as interested businesses, and individuals with their approach to partnering, providing training and outreach encourage businesses on the Hawaiian Islands to go green.



Overview (WSPPN) – Download Presentation
Mihir Parikh (A Better City, Boston) – Download Presentation
Josephine Fleming (Ecology Action) – Download Presentation
Gail Suzuki-Jones (Hawaii Energy Office) – Download Presentation

Green Business Program Case Studies

Here are a number of success stories written by many different green businesses, many from the California Green Business Program Network. These success stories describe a change in processes resulting in environmental benefits and often times business performance improvements and cost savings. The success stories are published on the WSPPN site with permission of the California Green Business Network (CAGBN). To apply to be a green business program or to find a green business in California, see

Directory of Green Business Programs

There are many green business programs that are being developed or are already developed throughout the United States. Some green business programs are general in nature (they certify a variety of types of businesses) and others are industry-specific. The following list is a good example of what has been developed by various organizations and agencies throughout the United States.

New England States (EPA Region 1)
Mid-Atlantic States (EPA Region 3)
Southeast States (EPA Region 4)
North Central States (EPA Region 5)
Pacific Southwest (EPA Region 9)
Pacific Northwest (EPA Region 10)
National Programs
Additional Resources:


New England States (EPA Region 1) TOP

Environmental Leader Certification Lodging and Restaurant Businesses – Maine
The benefits of this green business certification program for restaurants and lodging facilities include the following:

  • Environmental Leader flag and decals to display at your property.
  • Environmental Leader logo to use for advertising (website, literature, decals, etc.).
  • A listing on the Maine Tourism Association and Maine Office of Tourism web sites and for members, a listing on the Maine Inn Keeper’s Association website, all of which identify your business as Maine certified environmentally preferable.
  • Free on-going technical assistance from Maine Departmental of Environmental Protection on how to continue to reduce environmental impact while saving money.

Cost: Free
Region Covered: State of Maine
Types of Businesses: Restaurants
Criteria and Process: 1) Complete the self-certification workbook by checking off all of the initiatives that your facility is currently undertaking, 2) Calculate your estimated score by adding up all of the checked boxes, 3) Send completed workbook to DEP, 4) Upon final scoring, an official letter detailing your point total will be sent with possible low-cost recommendations, and 5) DEP may send an inspector to verify compliance throughout the year, unannounced.

Green Restaurant Association – Massachusetts
The Green Restaurant Association (GRA), a national non-profit organization, provides services in research, consulting, education, marketing and community organizing. The GRA utilizes a collaborative strategy that involves restaurants, manufacturers, vendors, grassroots organizations, government, media, and restaurant customers. The GRA’s model provides a convenient way for all sectors of the restaurant industry, which represents 10% of the U.S. economy, to become more environmentally sustainable.

Cost: (for smaller restaurants) $700 – $1000/yr – (for larger restaurants) $1000 – $2000/yr.
Region Covered: U.S.
Types of Businesses: Restaurants
Criteria and Process: Green Restaurant provides a comprehensive and user-friendly method of rewarding existing restaurants, new builds, and events with points in each of the GRA’s environmental guideline categories, which include: energy, water, waste, disposables, chemical and pollution reduction, sustainable food, sustainable furnishings and building materials.

Certified Green Restaurants must fulfill the following: 1) accumulate a total of 100 points, 2) meet minimum points in each category, 3) full-scale recycling program, 4) free of polystyrene foam, and annual education program. Participating facilities have the liberty to attempt to achieve the following certification ratings: 1) 2-star (minimum 100 points), 3-star (minimum of 175 points), and 4-star (have at least tallied 470 points).

Mid-Atlantic States (EPA Region 3) TOP

Virginia Green – Virginia
A network of tourism-related organizations and programs that are committed to protecting and promoting the environment. Virginia Green Lodging was the first established program in the Virginia Green Network, but criteria are now being developed for all sectors of the tourism industry, which include, but are not limited to: lodging, welcome/visitor centers, wineries, attractions, travel organizations, partners, restaurants, conference centers, golf courses, campgrounds, convention center, and parks. Minimum “core activities” have been developed for each of these sector categories, and they are encouraged to become as “green” as possible!

Region Covered: State of Virginia
Types of Businesses: Certification available for lodging, welcome/visitor centers, wineries, attractions, travel organizations, partners, restaurants, conference centers, golf courses, campgrounds, convention center, and parks.
Criteria and Process: 1) fill out application and send to Virginia DEQ, 2) DEQ will draft a profile of your facility, and 3) your facility gets certified.

SB NOW – Washington, D.C.
The Sustainable Business Network of Washington, DC (SB NOW) aims to help make organizations more environmentally sustainable while also reducing their operating costs. The program promotes water conservation and quality, energy conservation, waste reduction and recycling, pollution prevention, environmentally-friendly procurement and training. The program offers checklists, practical steps, ideas and resources to help “green” a small business or facility. There is also a guide that is offered along with a certification process developed and administered by SB NOW, which offers third-party validation of a company’s commitment and achievement regarding its environmental goals to its customers and employees. Getting certified also allows the company to green its brand and differentiate itself in the marketplace.

$350-$4,000, depending on square footage, lasts 2 years.
Region covered: Greater Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area, with plans to expand nationally.
Types of Businesses: All types of businesses in the DC area.
Criteria and Process: Click here to view the criteria and process for certification.

Southeast States (EPA Region 4) TOP

Florida Department of Environment Green Lodging Program
The Florida Green Lodging Program was established in 2004 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with the intent of recognizing and rewarding environmentally conscientious lodging facilities in the state. Through this rapidly growing program DEP encourages the lodging industry to conserve and protect Florida’s natural resources. The Florida Green Lodging Program is unique in that it covers an all-inclusive list of environmental initiatives that are specific to protecting and preserving Florida’s environment.

Cost: Free
Region Covered: State of Florida
Types of Businesses: Hotels and other lodging facilities
Criteria and Process: 1) Identify an Environmental Champion, 2) Obtain approval from appropriate management and submit an admission application, 3) Create a “Green Team”, 4) Conduct an Environmental Assessment, 5) Establish goals and identify environmental improvement projects, 6) Schedule an on-site designation review, 7) Maintain a One Palm status to advance to the next level, and 8) Continue to monitor and evaluate the program

North Central States (EPA Region 5) TOP

Green Lodging Michigan – Michigan
Green Lodging Michigan is a joint program through Michigan’s Energy Office and the Department of Environmental Quality. It is designed to promote Green Lodging throughout the state by encouraging hospitality facilities to adopt cost-saving “green” practices. It is a voluntary program that establishes environmental guidelines for the hospitality industry to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution.

Cost: Free
Region Covered: State of Michigan
Types of Businesses: Hotels and other lodging facilities
Criteria and Process: The process of becoming a Green Lodging Facility is quite simple. First, a facility should download and return the Green Lodging Application to the Energy Office. After applying, the facility may then begin the certification process by completing the self-assessment packet.

There are three certification levels that can be obtained: Green Lodging Partner, Green Lodging Steward and Green Lodging Leader. The Partner level is reliant on a self-assessment and achieving a set of minimum requirements. The Steward and Leader levels must satisfy the minimum requirements and a specific amount of points. They also are contingent to on-site verification. Certification is valid for three years. To become recertified, a facility must resubmit a self-assessment checklist after the three-year period.

Pacific Southwest (EPA Region 9) TOP

Environmental Finance Center, Region IX (EFC9)– Region IX
The Environmental Finance Center, Region IX, based at Dominican University of California, is working for healthier communities through cleaner business, by advancing the environmental industry and promoting pollution prevention, source reduction and energy efficiency. The US EPA, with Cal EPA/DTSC approval, named EFC the Region 9 Green Business Program Coordinator. In this capacity, EFC9 assists US EPA, Cal EPA/DTSC and the Bay Area Government Business Programs in their Green Business Program expansion efforts.

Region covered: US EPA Region IX which includes California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii
Types of Businesses: Any government agencies and non-profit organizations in the region interested in establishing a Green Business Program.
Criteria and Process: Click here to contact EFC9 for details concerning criteria and process.

Green Business Program – Arizona
ADEQ has partnered with AAA Arizona, Automotive Service Association of Arizona and the City of Mesa to certify auto repair shops under the Arizona Green Business Program. The scope of this program includes not only Pollution Prevention (P2) activities, but also Resource Conservation (energy, water and recycling) efforts.
This voluntary program gives automotive service facilities an opportunity to promote an environmentally friendly approach to car repair. “Green” automotive shops set high standards for pollution prevention and resource conservation — standards for other industries to follow. Automotive facilities that receive the Arizona Green Business certification can display a sign with the Green Business logo, showing customers that they are doing their part to protect – and clean up – our environment.

Free. Renewal based on a yearly-basis.
Region covered: State of Arizona.
Types of Businesses: Automotive repair services.
Criteria and Process: Cleaning and Degreasing; Waste Fluids; Housekeeping; Energy Conservation; Water Conservation; Waste Reduction. The process includes filling out an application, following and implementing as many steps on the pre-certified checklist from ADEQ; and AAA Arizona will inspect your facility for certification or re-certification.
Green Business Program – Hawaii
The Green Business Program is a partnership between the Departments of Health; and Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, working together with to assist and recognize businesses that operate in an environmentally responsible way. The program helps businesses to go beyond compliance to conserve energy, water and other resources, and to reduce pollution and waste. This program also provides valuable opportunities for industry members to share information on practices that have been implemented which save money and conserve our precious natural resources.

Region covered: State of Hawaii
Types of Businesses: Small and large businesses in any area.
Criteria and Process: There is a 3-step process to receive certification: 1) Fill out application, 2) implement what is required by the Green Business checklist; and 3) inspection.

Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) – California
The Bay Area Green Business Program verifies that businesses meet higher standards of environmental performance. Its partnership of government agencies and utilities helps local businesses comply with all environmental regulations and take actions to conserve resources, prevent pollution, and minimize waste. It offers motivated businesses and agencies an easy-to-use framework for improving environmental performance. Over 1,000 businesses and public agencies have been certified since 1997. There are nine participating counties in CA that are part of this coalition: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.

Cost: Free
Region Covered: CA counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.
Types of businesses: Auto services, printing, hotels, restaurants, dentists, wineries, office and retail operations, garment cleaners, remodeling, and landscape design and maintenance.
Criteria and Process: Regulatory compliance, pollution prevention, waste reduction and energy and water conservation. Criteria may be different from county to county. The process includes application verification by a utility or local agency representative from storm water, air quality, hazardous waste, etc.

Green Business Network – California
This network of green business programs includes those participating in the Bay Area network as well as other counties outside of the Bay Area in California. Network members meet each year at the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) conference to discuss goals and strategies for the statewide network. Participating counties in this network include:
Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Monica, Solano, and Sonoma.

Cost: Free
Region Covered: CA Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Solano, and Sonoma.
Types of businesses: Auto services, printing, hotels, restaurants, dentists, wineries, office and retail operations, garment cleaners, remodeling, and landscape design and maintenance
Criteria and Process: Regulatory compliance, pollution prevention, waste reduction and energy and water conservation. Criteria may be different from county to county. The process includes filling out an application that is verified by a utility or local agency representative from storm water, air quality, hazardous waste, etc.

Pacific Northwest (EPA Region 10) TOP

Green Star – Alaska
Green Star is a non-profit organization, based in Anchorage, Alaska, that encourages businesses to practice waste reduction, energy conservation and pollution prevention through education, technical assistance, and an award-winning voluntary “green business” certification program.

Cost: Free, lasts two years.
Region Covered: State of Alaska
Types of Business: Schools, Government agencies, industry and small businesses.
Criteria and Process: 1) Enroll in the Green Star program, 2)Participate in a site assessment, 3) Implement the Green Star Standards, 4) Submit your Standards Achievement Report and Gain Approval of the Standards Committee, 5) Receive your Award, and 5) Maintain your Award.

EcoBiz – Oregon
The Ecological Business Program, or EcoBiz, was created by a collective of Oregon cities and agencies which focuses on efforts by small businesses to minimize environmental impacts. The program prefers pollution prevention practices as the best way to reduce environmental impacts and thus continues to offer certification to small business and facilties that utilize pollution prevention practices to reduce their impacts in air, water and solid waste. The EcoBiz program is credited as being one of the first “multi-media” certification programs in the country.

Region covered: State of Oregon
Types of Business: Businesses in the automotive and landscaping industries (only in the greater Portland area).
Criteria and process: Certified businesses go beyond compliance with local environmental requirements and implement pollution prevention efforts in their work sites. Businesses are certified through an intensive application and evaluation process. During the certification process, businesses are evaluated in the areas of: 1) Hazardous waste management, 2) Air quality and pollution, 3) Spill prevention and response, 4) Product and waste storage, 5) Cleaning procedures, 6) Purchasing/inventory management, 7) Recycling procedures, 8) Employee involvement and training, 9) Drainage Systems, and 10) Energy And Water Use.

EnviroStars – State of Washington, King County

The EnviroStars program was created in King County, Washington as a service of the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in 1995, and has since been adopted across the Puget Sound region, with programs now offered in Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Pierce and Whatcom counties. EnviroStars was designed to give small businesses incentives and recognition for reducing hazardous materials and waste, in order to protect public health, municipal systems, and the environment.

Cost: Free
Region Covered: Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Pierce and Whatcom counties. in Washington State.
Types of Businesses: any business that generates hazardous waste, from car repair shops, colleges, dental offices, dry cleaners, landscapers, marinas, printers, government facilities, and manufacturers, to zoos.
Criteria and Process: 1) Determine eligibility of business for certification?, 2) Complete an EnviroStars application worksheet, 3) Schedule a free, on-site consultation, 4) Complete tasks agreed to in the visit, to ensure you meet all qualification criteria.

National Programs TOP

EarthRight Business Institute
This institute is dedicated to helping companies achieve environmentally sustainable business practices. By utilizing the Green Business Certification, Training, and Supply Chain Management programs, EarthRight members demonstrate to consumers, employees, and business partners that they are seriously committed to the environment.

Cost:$1,000-$40,000, based on annual revenue.
Region Covered: U.S.
Types of Businesses: Any private company in any sector.
Criteria and Process: Three tiers. Minimum requires compliance, assessment of environmental impacts, sustainability plan, executive commitment, green team, monitoring program; Upper tiers require meeting reduction targets for emissions and resources. The process includes submitting an application with supporting documentation, management and employee interview, and facility inspection.


Green C Certification
The stated goal of American Consumer Council’s (ACC) Green C Certification program is to encourage and recognize Green practices among businesses and organizations throughout North America, and promote Corporate Social Responsibility that preserves and enhances the earth. The program is designed to incentivize businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to operate in an environmentally efficient manner, by recognizing those deserving organizations that meet ACC’s environmental compliance and CSR criteria with ACC’s Green C Certification.

Cost: $3,000-$5,000, lasts 3 years.
Region covered: U.S., Worldwide in 2009.
Types of Businesses: Includes businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.
Criteria and Process: Three levels of recognition for compliance; pollution, waste management and waste prevention; energy conservation and efficiency; water conservation and efficiency; employee, supplier and consumer education; green community enhancements; and societal impact. The process includes an application, a review, and on-site inspection for highest tier, which is Emerald.

Green Seal Certification
Green Seal is a non-profit organization devoted to environmental standard setting, product certification, and public education. Green Seal’s mission is to work towards environmental sustainability by identifying and promoting environmentally responsible products, purchasing, and production. Through its standard setting, certification and education programs, Green Seal:

  • identifies products that are designed and manufactured in an environmentally responsible manner;
  • offers scientific analyses to help consumers make educated purchasing decisions regarding environmental impacts;
  • ensures consumers that any product bearing the Green Seal Certification Mark has earned the right to use it; and
  • encourages manufacturers to develop new products that are significantly less damaging to the environment than their predecessors.

The intent of Green Seal’s environmental requirements is to reduce, to the extent technologically and economically feasible, the environmental impacts associated with the manufacture, use and disposal of products. Set on a category-by-category basis, Environmental Standards focus on significant opportunities to reduce a product’s environmental impact. Green Seal provides certifications for the following types of businesses as well as a number of products.

Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services
Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Operations
Green Lodging Certification

Green Seal also has green business standards in development for Residential Cleaning Services, and Restaurant and Food Service Operations.

A Green Seal Laureate Program has been developed in response to the need for companies to proclaim their sustainability in an honest and credible way. The Green Seal Laureate Program is tiered to inspire leadership. It recognizes and rewards accomplishments and encourages continuous improvement. Factors that are considered in identifying potential participants include overall environmental leadership in the company’s sector and specific areas of exceptional environmental performance.

Cost: Click here to see a list of fees.
Region Covered: U.S.
Types of Businesses: Green Seal works with manufacturers, industry sectors, purchasing groups, and governments at all levels to “green” the production and purchasing chain.
Criteria and Process: Click here to view a detailed description on how to get certified by Green Seal.

The Sustainable Green Printing PartnershipThe SGP Partnership is an independent third-party registration organization formed in June 2007 as a collaboration between Printing Industries of America, Flexographic Technical Association , and Specialty Graphic and Imaging Association; with the primary goals of defining sustainable green printing and identifying steps that help the printing industry establish sustainable (or green) manufacturing and business practices.

Cost: Application Fee — $600; Annual Renewal — $300; audit — $3000 plus expenses. Members of any supporting organizations of the partnership enjoy a 50% discount.
Region Covered: U.S.
Types of Businesses: Printers
Criteria and Process: Click here to view a detailed description on how to get certified by the SGP Partnership.

The Institute for Green Business Certification
The Institute for Green Business Certification provides environmental management and sustainability consulting to businesses, organizations of all sizes, professional and college sports stadiums as well as youth sports complexes and public venues in North America and around the globe!

$1,990-$3,990, last 2 years.
Region covered: World-wide
Types of Business: manufacturers, industrial firms, service providers, automotive shops, printers, food and beverage companies, hardware stores, hotels, restaurants, landscapers, cleaning services, attorneys, engineers, marketing consultants, florists, grocery stores, gift shops, transportation, stadiums, health care and more!
Criteria and Process: Ten business practice categories including regulatory compliance, energy and water conservation, environmentally friendly purchasing, and recycling. The process includes an initial on-site review, gap analysis, consultation on missed standards, and final inspection.


Green Business Handbook

green business handbookThe Pollution Prevention Program has released the second edition of its 2008 Greening Your Business Workbook. The new edition, called the Green Business Handbook, has suggestions to help businesses reduce energy use, water consumption and waste, as well as contains links to pertinent regulatory information.  These links provide businesses the information and resources they need to comply with many DES rules that may apply to them.  Take a look at the Green Business Handbook and download a copy to help your business reduce waste and save money.


If you would like to have your green business program considered for inclusion to this list, please send information to