The path to becoming a certified green business is easy

With the proliferation of so-called “green” businesses in the news, we asked Molly Ober, Green Business Program Coordinator of the Monterey branch of the Bay Area Green Business Program, to explain how businesses are certified green and what being green really means. The program is a partnership of environmental agencies, utilities and nonprofit organizations that assist, recognize, and promote businesses and government agencies that operate in an environmentally responsible way. This collaborative effort provides motivated businesses and agencies an easy-to-use framework for improving their environmental performance.

ASJ: From your perspective, do you think that going green reflects a national lifestyle shift or is it just another trendy marketing ploy?

Molly: Going green reflects a national lifestyle shift, people are realizing the urgency to protect and preserve our natural resources. Many believe 2007 is a watershed year in the business trend of going green. Going green is no longer a luxury that costs a premium; it saves money, saves time, and increases business. As a community member and customer, you can vote with your dollars by frequenting Certified Green Businesses and encouraging businesses to apply to the program.

ASJ: What exactly does it mean to be a “green business?”

Molly: To be certified “green” participants must be in compliance with all regulations and meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste.

ASJ: What does being certified involve? Is it expensive?

Molly: It’s easy! Just follow these simple steps to become a Certified Green Business:

1. Contact the Green Business Program
Coordinator in your county. Your county coordinator can send you a packet of materials, including a simple one-page application form, a checklist and a directory of green businesses in your county… If you choose to become certified, (the coordinator) will work with you and help you go through the necessary steps to meet the Green Business Standards. There are no fees involved.

2. Pledge to stay green. Simply take this Green
Business Pledge and post it in your place of business:
“We believe a successful business is dependent on a healthy environment. We are actively working to show our environmental responsibility to our community by committing to the following objectives:

• To comply with all applicable regulations and strive to exceed compliance
• To conserve energy, water, materials and other resources
• To develop and implement practices that prevent pollution and waste
• To be an environmentally responsible business within our community
• To strive for continuous improvement.”
• Staff will work with your business
and local agencies to verify that you are complying with any applicable environmental regulations.

3. Identify and implement ways to conserve
resources and prevent pollution.

4. Use the Green Business checklist to:
•Conserve Water
• Conserve Energy
• Reduce Waste Prevent
• Pollution
You may already be doing enough to qualify. Staff from energy efficiency programs, your water company and others will verify what you’re doing and help you to meet the Green Business certification criteria for your industry. There are significant rebate programs to help with any facility changes that are incorporated into the program.

ASJ: What are some of the easiest things a business can do to become more environmentally friendly?

Molly: Businesses can take steps to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution, such as using more efficient lighting, purchasing in bulk, watering landscapes efficiently, recycling 80% of their waste, and using less toxic products.

ASJ: Since the program started back in 2003 have you been able to measure the difference certified Green Businesses are making?

Molly: In early 2007, the county of Santa Cruz estimated the environmental and economic outcomes from the program’s assistance to the 35 businesses in the county that had been certified at that time. Those outcomes include annual achievements of:

• 234,660 gallons of water saved
• 4,800 pounds of hazardous waste reduced
• 21,000 in cost savings
• 18,000 pounds of solid waste reduced

ASJ: How can a consumer spot a business that isn’t really being green, though they may claim to be?
Molly: The Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program provides a window decal for certified businesses to display. Certified Green Businesses receive verification of green practices. If a business claims to be green but doesn’t have one of our decals ask the business owner what makes them green or if they are certified through a different program. Investigate how the “green” practices are verified.


For more information on the Bay Area Green Business Program, visit www. or contact the coordinator in your county (below) or Regional Program Manager Ceil Scandone at 510-464-7961.

Our program’s criteria are listed on our website:
You can also get an up to date list of certified businesses on our website.