Skip Navigation

Green Business Certification Program

Program Overview

The Green Business Certification Program was started in 2009 to help Montgomery County businesses prosper in a new green economy. The program seeks to spur innovation and environmental responsibility so that forward-looking businesses that use sustainable practices in their day to day operations and supply chain decisions are rewarded for their environmental leadership.

Image of the Green Business Certification launch event.  Image of a green landscaper receiving her certification from the County Executive, Council member Nancy Floreen and other county officials.
   

The Green Business Certification Program, a partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, and Montgomery College, is a voluntary program designed to help businesses go above and beyond basic green measures to reduce their ecological footprint.

Currently, businesses that are eligible for certification include:

  • Office/retail operations
  • Landscapers

DEP intends to develop additional certification programs for other business sectors as the program evolves. To learn more about and apply for certification, visit the Green Business Certification Program website.

To further understand the significance of this program, check out these short videos:

 

 

 

Training Opportunities

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection provides free technical assistance and strategic advice for up to four hours to businesses interested in pursuing a Green Business Certification. We will come to your office and meet with you and other "green team" members to address specific issues related to your application. Ideally, this would occur once you have submerged yourself in the application and have clear and specific needs.

Other Opportunities:

  • Montgomery College offers a number of training opportunities through their Green Energy and Sustainability Management courses. 
  • Contact the Green Business Certification Program Manager at MCGreenBiz@montgomerycountymd.gov to learn about other green business training and educational opportunities that might be available.

"We gained a lot of awareness by participating in the Montgomery County Green Business Certification process, and we continue to use this knowledge to guide corporate decisions. Over time, we’ve also noticed how well these sustainability efforts support our core values of improving public health, giving back to the community, and attracting exceptional employee-owners." - James J. Lynch, PhD, President and CEO, Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.

 

Image of business professionals taking a training program together.

 

Green Business Forum

Sharing best practices and networking with like-minded businesses is at the heart of the Green Business Forum.  The Forum is focused on cutting edge sustainability topics and how to position your business so that you can lead and thrive in a greener economy.

The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and Montgomery College have partnered to create the Green Business Forum.

Logo of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.Taking place from 7:30 am – 9:00 am, four times a year in the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce boardroom, each forum features experts who offer unique perspectives on the advantages of being a green business. Presentations are followed by Q&A.

The Green Business Forum is free and open to the public, however, due to limited seating, registration is required. To learn more about and to register for meetings, go to the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce’s Green Business Forum.

 

Image of the 2012 Green Business Forum.
"The marketplace is changing and our members are successfully adapting to that change, by making “green” an important part of their overall business strategy."Georgette Godwin, President and CEO, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
 
 

Other Certification Programs

Currently, only office/retail based operations and landscape businesses are eligible for Montgomery County’s Green Business Certification. If you are interested in additional certification programs, either because you are not eligible for the County’s Program, or you are interested in another credential, consider the following:

 

Operations

Logo for the B CorpsB Corps -- B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. To be certified, a business must earn a reviewed minimum score of 80 out of 200 points on the B Impact Assessment tool, followed by an assessment review/phone interview. In addition, the business’ articles of incorporation must require that it consider the impact of its decisions on the environment, community and employees (not just shareholders).

 

Logo for Green AmericaGreen America -- Green America certifies businesses that are committed to using business as a platform to enhance social justice and environmental sustainability. There are three tiers of certification with increasing levels of achievement: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Gold certification requires an interview to discuss responses in the assessment.

 

Logo for Green SealGreen Seal -- Green Seal offers certification for products, services and companies that meet Green Seal standards, a rigorous set of criteria designed to achieve leadership levels in sustainability. Product certification includes, among others, cleaning, paint, and paper products. Service and company certification includes cleaning companies, restaurants and hotels/lodging.

 

Logo of the Green Restaurant Association.Green Restaurant Association -- Green Restaurant Association certification provides a comprehensive method of rewarding existing restaurants & foodservice operations, new builds, and events with points in each of seven environmental categories. Restaurants can reach one of three levels of certification: two, three or four star. Continuous improvement is required.

 

Logo of the Maryland Green Registry.Maryland Green Registry -- the State of Maryland’s Green Registry is a self certification program designed for organizations of all types and sizes that wish to share their environmental best practices through an online profile. The application requires that businesses implement five or more practices and share at least one measurable result.

 

Logo for the International Organization for Standardization.

ISO 14001 -- ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. ISO 14001sets out the criteria for an environmental management system. It does not state requirements for environmental performance, but maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective environmental management system. It can be used by any organization regardless of its activity or sector. Using ISO 14001 can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved. Certification can be performed by external certification bodies, which are largely private. ISO is not involved in the certification process. 

 

Buildings

Logo for the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Certification.

 

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) -- The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems provide building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

 

Logo for Energy Star.

ENERGY STAR -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR building certification demonstrates that a building meets strict energy performance standards and uses less energy, is less expensive to operate and causes fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its peers. To qualify for the ENERGY STAR, a building or facility must earn a 75 or higher on EPA's 1-100 energy performance scale, indicating that the facility performs better than at least 75% of similar buildings nationwide.

 

Landscapes Sites

Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) -- The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable landscape sites. Guidelines apply to any type of designed landscape, with or without buildings, ranging from shopping malls, streetscapes, subdivisions, corporate and academic campuses, transportation corridors, parks and recreation areas, all the way to single family homes.

Logo for the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

 

Sustainability Reporting

As the saying goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” A corporate sustainability program is not a one shot deal. Rather, it’s a journey. As such, it requires on-going measurement "against established metrics" and goals so that businesses can effectively gauge their annual progress and make adjustments to improve performance.

Consumers and other stakeholders are interested in transparent information related to a company’s sustainability and corporate responsibility efforts. Communicating those efforts in a clear and honest way can engender trust and facilitate improved communication with stakeholders.

Below are a few reporting tools to consider:

  • Global Reporting Initiative -- The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a non-profit organization that promotes economic, environmental and social sustainability. GRI provides all companies and organizations with a comprehensive sustainability framework to measure and report their sustainability performance. The emphasis on what is material encourages organizations to provide only information that is critical to their business and stakeholders. This means organizations and report users can concentrate on the sustainability impacts that matter, resulting in reports that are more strategic, more focused, more credible, and easier for stakeholders to navigate.
  • Carbon Disclosure Project -- The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) allows businesses to publically measure and disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, water management and climate change strategies. Company responses and data are assessed and scored for both disclosure and performance. A high climate disclosure score would indicate a comprehensive response. A high performance score would indicate that a company has taken a high level of positive actions to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation. Companies with the top scores for disclosure qualify to be listed in the Climate Disclosure Leadership Index. Top-scoring companies for performance qualify to be listed in the Climate Performance Leadership Index.

 

Suggested Reading

Looking for deeper insight and inspiration? Check out these books for ideas, strategies, and success stories from the front lines of green business!

 

  • The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken
  • Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, by Tim Jackson
  • Cradle to Cradle, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
  • Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
  • The Nature of Design, by David Orr
  • Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: How Interface Proved That You Can Build a Successful Business Without Destroying the Planet, by Ray Anderson
  • The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win, by Jeffrey Hollender
  • The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, by James Gustave Speth
  • Strategies for the Green Economy, by Joel Makower
  • The Sustainability Advantage: Seven Business Case Benefits of a Triple Bottom Line, by Bob Willard
  • The Necessary Revolution, by Peter Senge, Bryan Smith, Nina Kruschwitz, Joe Laur and Sara Schley
  • The Natural Step for Business: Wealth, Ecology and the Evolutionary Corporation, by Brian Nattrass and Mary Altomare
  • The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones
  • Sustainability by Design, by John Ehrenfeld
  • Green to Gold, by Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston
  • Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E.F. Schumacher
  • Valuing the Earth: Economics, Ecology, Ethics, by Herman Daly and Kenneth Townsend
  • Getting Green Done, by Auden Schendler
  • The Truth About Green Business, by Gil Friend