The Rise of Green Business and Certification
The Rise of Green Business and Certification
By Tork USA
In its Healthy People, Healthy Planet report, SCA Tissue North America (manufacturer of the Tork brand) asked business decision-makers if they purchase green products and if green purchasing decisions will increase in the future:
• 78 percent buy green products for their business
• 87 percent of companies with more than 1,000 employees purchase eco-friendly products
• 85 percent have maintained or increased their purchases compared to last year
• 70 percent believe the role the environment plays in their industry will increase to some degree in the future
A few business decision-makers, convinced that “going green” is just a trend, remain standing on the sidelines as environmental responsibility becomes an important aspect in the way we do business. But that group is shrinking in size. More than three-quarters of business decision-makers purchase green products and most believe the role of the environment will increase in the future, indicating that the green movement is here to stay.
Various factors regarding our environment make the case for corporate, holistic sustainability. For instance, the planet’s population has increased from 2.5 billion people in 1950 to 6.7 billion in 2008. By 2025, experts predict 8 billion people will inhabit the earth, further straining limited reserves on our natural resources unless sustainability practices become a way of life.
Because more businesses are initiating greener efforts, such as developing energy and water consumption programs, the benefits of strategically aligning environmentally responsible practices with specific business goals is becoming more apparent. Larger companies are more likely to adopt greener practices, since they have more customers and stakeholders influencing how the business is run.
Schools and hospitals are realizing the benefits associated with implementing green practices into their facilities, too. A school with a healthy environment makes it easier for students to concentrate on learning and decreases the number of days students are kept home sick13. Hospital executives are also implementing greener practices, such as reducing hospital staying time and retrofitting lighting to save energy and money.
As large and small companies, schools, hospitals, industrial facilities and restaurants begin adopting greener practices, it becomes clear the green movement is important for our future and the planet. The role of the environment in our lives will only increase as awareness spreads and more information becomes available.
Tork asked business decision-makers if they find a green certification beneficial and how green claims are perceived:
• 91 percent claim an average to strong understanding of environmental issues
• 46 percent stated it would be beneficial for their company to have a green certification
• 75 percent of those working for companies with 501 to 1,000 employees are in favor of the green certification
• 19 percent stated LEED as the most credible green certification
• 63 percent are wary of the abundance of “green” claims
Although most respondents are somewhat confident in their personal comprehension of green matters, with more than 90 percent stating an average to strong understanding of environmental issues, concerns, and impacts, much confusion still exists regarding the meaning of “green.”
Results show environmental messaging is over-saturating the marketplace, with many of us wary of the abundance of “green” claims made by manufacturers today. In fact, most respondents feel that products declaring to be green are probably greener, but also exaggerate claims. Complaints about the misuse of green terminology have increased dramatically in recent years.
Many businesses commit “greenwashing” sins and mislead consumers about the environmental benefits of a product or the practices of a company. These missteps can include lack of proof, vagueness or even lies. The good news is that the growing availability of greener products shows that consumers are seeking full disclosure and transparency regarding products and practices – and marketers and manufacturers are listening. As the sustainability field matures, it will be required for businesses and products to meet certain standards and include proper labeling. Once these requirements are in place we will begin seeing less “greenwashing” sins.
There are measures business decision-makers can take to establish themselves as credible leaders in the environmental field, such as getting an office building or product green certified. Unfortunately, the number of green certifications available is abundant as well as confusing to decipher.
David Gottfried offers these certification recommendations:
• ENERGY STAR- A joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that helps building owners save money and protect the environment through energy efficient practices.
• LEED Certification- Provides third-party verification that a building implements strategies aimed at improving environmental performance.
• ENERGY STAR – Many products are ENERGY STAR certified which uses less energy, saves money, and helps protect the environment. Make sure to ask for these products when you are purchasing items for your business.
• Green Seal – A credible, non-profit organization that provides science-based environmental certification standards for products.
• EcoLogo – North America’s most widely recognized and respected certification of environmental leadership. EcoLogo helps businesses identify, trust, buy, and sell environmentally preferable goods and services.
• Green Seal Pilot Sustainability Standard (GS-C1) – The new GS-C1 standard looks at a product manufacturer’s products and business practices in totality.
• ISO 14000 – The aim of the standard is to reduce the environmental footprint of a business and to decrease the pollution and waste a business produces.
• Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – A network-based organization that has developed a widely used sustainability reporting framework.