Join the Green Business Community!
By Ben Levi, AIA
What is the Green Business Program?
The California Green Business Program (GBP) certifies local businesses that meet high standards for environmental performance. The program is unique in that it is a collaboration between local governments, utilities and businesses. Launched over 20 years ago in 1996, it has since grown into the California Green Business Network (CAGBN), which includes over 4,000 certified businesses, some of which are our esteemed colleague-firms from the East Bay AIA; Seigel & Strain, Arkin-Tilt, and Shah Kawasaki Architects, to name a few.
What does it take to get certified?
Our firm Ratcliff has recently become a certified Bay Area Green Business through the California Green Business Program. We started the certification process in the summer of 2018. While it took longer than anticipated since we did it in addition to our regular project duties, it was well worth the effort.
The first step was to register online and choose the level: Certified or Innovator. We then proceeded on to filling out the online checklist, which consists of seven sections: Solid Waste, Energy, Water, Pollution Prevention, Transportation, Wastewater, and Community. There is a total of 76 measures, with a minimum of 57 measures required for certification. Of those, 41 are prerequisites or “core” measures and must be implemented.
The next step was to establish a “Green Team” to create Environmental Policy Statement and oversee the necessary changes. We then contacted the County program coordinator who came to do assessment of our office. She found quite a few things that did not initially “pass muster”, like a leaky shower valve and a non-compliant high-capacity toilet, or janitorial cleaning products that contained toxic chemicals, and needed to be replaced.
We also found our office supplies purchasing to be fragmented and coming from multiple different vendors. As a result, we implemented centralized purchasing using a single, local vendor Blaisdell’s for all our office supplies. They were familiar with the Green Business program and helped us select the compliant products. Finally, we had to pass on-site audits by all participating agencies. The certification is good for four years, after which we will need to get re-certified, if we want to remain compliant.
Why Get Certified?
Consider clients who want LEED projects, but are not willing to commit to certification. They miss the biggest value—the quality control it delivers. The certification process helps us to stay on track and makes it more likely that we will achieve the client’s project goals.
Equally, Green Business certification provides us with extra motivation to make changes in our own activities and to “practice what we preach.” It makes advocating Sustainability to our clients that much more compelling. As the saying goes, if you want to change the world, start in your own backyard.
There are currently about 95 architecture firms certified green businesses in the state, and I hope to see this number go up as more architects consider this program as a way of demonstrating their commitment to the environment.
For more information on what it takes to do this, visit GBP’s website here
or see article: Getting Certified Through the California Green Business Program