Advantages to Becoming a Green-Certified Business

Megan Erwin
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Over the past several years, "going green" has become the latest trend in new building construction and retrofitting existing buildings. A study conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction found that companies that have implemented green practices did so primarily in response to client demand and market demand as well as to gain a branding advantage.


But some business owners and managers might be unclear on the specific benefits going green can have on their business, as well as how to obtain a California business green certification. Becoming a certified green business is likely easier than most business owners and managers might imagine. And the benefits of certification are undeniable. What's more, the costs of going green are relatively easy to manage, with a very reasonable time frame to achieve a return on any initial investment.


The benefits of becoming a California green-certified business

There are many reasons why a business should be green-certified. Becoming a green-certified business in California not only makes sense from an environmental stewardship perspective, it can also raise a business's long-term bottom line and improve its image among consumers.


Some of the specific benefits to becoming California green-certified include:


  • Lower environmental impact

    According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE), commercial buildings in the U.S. account for 17% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial facilities are responsible for another 28% of those emissions. Reducing those numbers by just 10% would be the equivalent of taking about 30 million cars off the road and would save American businesses a total of $20 billion annually.1

    The DOE also notes that buildings in the General Services Administration's (GSA) portfolio that have earned Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program have realized significant environmental improvements. Occupant satisfaction was also almost a third higher in the GSA buildings and maintenance costs were close to 20% lower.

  • Improved brand value

    Public awareness of environmental issues is at an all-time high. According to several studies, becoming a certified green business can be a distinct competitive advantage.


    Seventy percent of respondents had a higher opinion of businesses with green-certification from third-party organizations like the USGBC. Becoming a green certified business in California not only enhances a company's reputation, it makes it a more attractive partner for other businesses.2


    Also, according to a Harris poll, 69% of workers prefer working in a facility that is green-certified, 64% of consumers were more likely to patronize a certified green business and nearly half of respondents feel better about doing business with a company that boasts a certified facility.


    Green certification also improves brand value by acting as a marketing tool. Businesses with LEED or other green certifications are often listed in local and national databases. Customers who want to work with a green business often refer to the websites of organizations that provide green certification. Being listed by these organizations is a great way to attract new customers who might not otherwise be aware of a business.

  • Lower utility and maintenance costs

    Improving brand value isn't the only way green certification can help a business become more profitable. By instituting green measures, like installing energy efficient light bulbs and other equipment, businesses will see a precipitous decline in their monthly utility bills.


    Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and fixtures last up to 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs, and they use 75% less energy. Daylighting (i.e., taking full advantage of natural light to illuminate indoor spaces) is a simple, efficient method of working toward green certification and it can take a large bite out of monthly lighting costs.3

  • Not getting left behind

    Becoming a green-certified business is no longer about getting ahead of the curve, it's about keeping pace with the rest of the business world. McGraw-Hill Construction's 2013 Dodge Construction Green Outlook showed just how much adoption of green construction practices have risen in the past decade.


    According to the Outlook, in 2012 more than 40% of all non-residential building starts were green, an enormous increase over the 2005 number of just 2%. The rising tide of green building and retrofit practices shows no sign of retreating. In 2015, the percentage of retailers and hoteliers that are going green is expected to reach the 50% mark for the first time, continuing the rapid growth that has been seen over the previous five years.


How to become California green-certified

There are several steps that business owners and managers can start with on the road to California green certification, including:


  1. Creating a green business policy 4
  2. Conducting a green business self-assessment 5
  3. Develop, implement and track a green program 6
  4. Communicating that green business plan to consumers, business partners and the broader community.7

Pursuing California green business certification can also help with developing and implementing a green business plan. There are many organizations that offer green certification, and they can provide a framework for becoming more energy efficient. PG&E also offers financial incentives and other resources for businesses committed to instituting energy efficient projects.8


To learn more about how to get started, download the "Insider's Guide to Financing Energy Efficiency Projects" from PG&E. This guide contains actionable information and proven resources to help you plan, finance and successfully complete energy efficiency projects.


Referenced in article:

  1. ENERGY STAR
  2. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  3. ENERGY STAR
  4. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PDF, 302.5 KB)
  5. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PDF, 189.5 KB)
  6. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PDF, 185.5 KB)
  7. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PDF, 104 KB)
  8. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
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