Green certified business

5 Updates That Can Help You Become a Green-Certified Business

By Megan Porter

There are plenty of good reasons to make your California business more energy efficient. For starters, becoming more energy efficient results in a healthier workplace, lowers utility bills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

One energy efficiency benefit that some businesses overlook may be the most valuable of all: The positive light it puts your company in for customers and prospects. After all, if you are going to make the effort to become greener, you might as well get recognition for it. One way to do that is to become a green-certified business.

There are a number of paths to certification, and one of the easiest is through the California Green Business Program,1 a network of local city and county governments that works with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)2 to help companies make the switch to green business practices. The network targets businesses employing less than 200 people. Companies must pledge to comply with existing laws and regulations and then go beyond compliance when it comes to energy use, wastewater reduction, solid waste reduction and pollution prevention.

Cities and counties in Northern California were the first to join the network, which then expanded to the San Francisco Bay Area, the Monterey Bay Area and on to Southern California. The network first targeted automotive repair shops and printing companies.

Now there are more than 120 categories of businesses engaged in the program and more than 2,800 have earned their seal of green certification.

There are four steps to becoming a certified green business under the program:

  • Register with the program’s website,
  • Fill out and submit an application.
  • Await certification while your application is reviewed.
  • Once certified, fill out your company profile so customers can find you.

On the program’s website, businesses can get specific recommendations on qualifying upgrades by entering the city or county where the business is located and the type of business it is. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers should note that not all of the cities and counties listed are in PG&E’s territory.

Businesses can earn a seal of certification from their local city or county by meeting the criteria established by the California Green Business Program. By updating your lighting or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, for example, a business can reduce its energy usage and operating costs, thereby achieving better sustainability and becoming a green-certified business.

Here are five energy efficiency equipment upgrades that businesses can implement to achieve green certification under the California Green Business Program.

1. Lighting retrofits: Lighting system upgrades such as replacing T-12 and T-8 lighting fixtures with high efficiency linear light-emitting diode (LED) lights fit the program’s certification criteria. LED technology is simply a smarter and more sustainable way to illuminate interior and exterior spaces. LEDs use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than a comparable incandescent lighting fixture.3

2. HVAC upgrades: Restaurants can have an energy audit performed by the Food Service and Technology Center to examine energy saving opportunities in areas like refrigeration and HVAC systems, including energy recovery ventilation systems.4 Up to 80% of the energy in HVAC exhaust air can be recovered with energy recovery ventilation systems, which condition incoming fresh air by using reclaimed waste energy from the exhaust air stream.5

3. Going solar: Harnessing the power of the sun is a particularly appropriate method of going green in California. For example, installing solar photovoltaic systems, which capture sunlight and convert it into electricity that can be used to power everything that traditional electricity powers, is a qualifying upgrade for certification.6

4. Automatic shutoff: Use power management software programs to automatically activate power management settings in computers and printers. Your company can save $25 to $75 in electricity use per PC annually with the help of PC power management software. It can save you an additional $10 to $25 by reducing office cooling loads, and it can enhance data security and improve productivity by eliminating the daily computer boot-up wait time.7

5. See the light of day: Lighting accounts for 26% of the electricity used in U.S. commercial office buildings, making it the biggest electricity user and a prime target for savings. One way you can lower your lighting load during the day is with simplified daylight harvesting controls. These products feature a lighting control with a photo sensor that measures the amount of illumination in a given space and turns off lighting when it isn’t needed. California’s Title 24 requires automatic daylighting controls for skylit areas in most buildings that are 8,000 square feet or larger. In an 8,000-square-foot building with no photosensor control system, installing dual-loop photosensor controls could save 16,880 kilowatt-hours annually, or approximately $2,160 per year.8

Business owners looking for creative ways to cut energy usage can hang PG&E’s Employee Energy Efficiency Awareness Posters around the office to encourage workers to create more energy-saving habits, like turning off the lights in vacant conference rooms and remembering to leave ducts clear.

  1. California Green Business Program
  2. California Department of Toxic Substances Control
  3. U.S. Department of Energy
  4. Food Service Technology Center
  6. U.S. Department of Energy
  7. California Lighting Technology Center

Green-certify your business with these upgrades. Learn more.
  • SMB Blog Author
    Megan Porter
    Senior Program Marketing Manager at PG&E, is a recognized leader in solutions marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. Megan uses her proven and practical expertise to bring energy efficiency education to businesses in every industry. In this vital role, she develops and oversees highly successful initiatives that result in the adoption of more efficient long-term energy management behaviors.

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