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A small business guide to eco-certifications

Consumers and investors alike care about companies that care about the environment. Getting a green business certification is one way to win their approval and prove that your business is environmentally and socially responsible.

Green business certifications are awarded to businesses that adopt sustainable policies and practices that benefit the planet. These certifications are usually granted by third-party organizations, like non-profits or industry associations—and there are a lot to choose from.

Which certification you choose depends on your business, but there are a few things to look for. In general, you should work with an organization that:

  • Is recognizable and relevant to your customers
  • Has clear standards that are developed by experts and backed by science
  • Requires third-party testing or investigations
  • Provides support and guidance to certified businesses
  • Has a clear certification process

If you’re still not sure which green business certification is right for you, a business consultant can help you make the right decision.

Green business certifications are given to companies that adopt sustainable practices and policies

10 common green certifications for small businesses

There’s no shortage of green business certifications to choose from. Here are some of the most common. Use this list as a starting point in your search.

Top green certifications

1. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

Implemented by Green Business Certification Inc., LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. A LEED certification signifies that your building is lowering carbon emissions, conserving resources, reducing operating costs, prioritizing sustainable practices, and creating a healthier environment. Learn more.

2. Green Business Bureau (GBB)

GBB’s certification process is initiative-based—your business earns points for each eco-friendly decision you make. The GBB program ensures certified businesses are always improving their sustainability efforts. Learn more.


You’ve probably heard of ENERGY STAR certified products, but your building can earn an Energy Star certification as well. ENERGY STAR certified buildings generate 35% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings and earn an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher on the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1–100 scale. Learn more.

4. Green Seal

You’ve heard their tagline, “Look for the Green Seal.” Getting the Green Seal on your products verifies that you meet “the highest standards of clean.” It’s a symbol of environmental health and leadership. Learn more.

5. Rainforest Alliance Certified

The Rainforest Alliance certification program protects farmers and helps them produce better crops, adapt to climate change, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms are safer and better for the planet. For small businesses, sourcing from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms is an opportunity to make a positive impact. Learn more.

6. B Corp Certification

B Corp Certification measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. Certified B Corporations are businesses that balance purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Learn more.

7. Carbonfree® Product Certification

Carbonfree® offers a partner program for businesses to help them calculate, reduce, and offset their carbon footprint. The Carbonfree® Product Certification is a meaningful and transparent way for businesses to provide carbon-neutral products to their customers. Learn more.

8. Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)

Getting certified to SFI supports the long-term sustainability of forests. SFI’s work includes organizations across the supply chain, from forest managers to manufacturers, distributors, and printers. An SFI certification signifies the sustainable use of fiber from certified forests, certified sourcing, and post-consumer recycled material. Learn more.

9. Green CTM Certification

Earning a Green CTM Certification from the American Consumer Council signifies that your business is not only in compliance with industry and government standards for environmental responsibility, but also that you promote eco-friendly practices and help to create a culture of green in your industry. Learn more.

10. Green America Certification

Green America certifies businesses that are committed to using their business as a platform for social change. They improve the quality of life of their customers, employees, communities, and the planet by meeting rigorous Green Business Standards. Learn more.

Benefits of green certification

Is green certification right for your business?

There are a number of benefits to earning a green certification for your business. It shows your customers and investors that you’re taking the appropriate steps to rectify climate change and heal our plant. And today’s consumers tend to favor businesses that benefit the environment.

But, before getting green-certified, you should consider the cost and your commitment to renewing the certification. The application fees for green certifications can be steep, and some require you to renew each year.

Beyond that, to get certified, you’ll need to submit proof that your business meets the organization’s green standards and requirements. From there, you’ll likely need to undergo third-party inspections, which come at a cost to you.

If you’re prepared to be transparent about your green policies and practices, and you believe a green certification would be recognized and awarded by your audience, it may be worth the investment.

Commit to going green

Whether you’re green-certified or not, there are a number of things your business can do to improve the environment. Analyze your supply chain for opportunities to create more sustainable practices. Switch from harmful plastics to more sustainable packaging for your products. And sign the SME Climate Commitment to take the first step toward reducing your carbon footprint and saving the planet.

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