Green Awards And Certifications – Which Is Right For Your Business?

Green Awards And Certifications

Ever thought about getting certified for your environmental efforts. If so you might have done some research and discovered that there are loads of various types of green awards and certifications on the market.

Being able to achieve a green award or green certification is useful as you can use it to confidently promote your green credentials to your clients, prospective customers and staff.

But which should you try go for?

In this article I have summarised some of the mainstream green awards and environmental certifications from different countries.

Environmental Management System – ISO14001

The ‘daddy’ of environmental certification is the International Organisational Standard called ISO14001.

The standard sets out how an organisation can improve its environmental performance and comply with environmental legislation and regulations through an environmental management system (EMS).

The purpose of the EMS is to ensure that an organisation continues to demonstrate continuous improvement in terms of its environmental performance.

The standards is implemented through third party verifiers and is externally evaluated on an annual basis.

Implementation usually requires the support of a EMS consultant and can therefore be quite a costly approach to improving your performance.

  • Country: International
  • Pros: Internationally recognised; the most compelling evidence you can provide in a tender requesting environmental information is to say that you are ISO14001 certified
  • Cons: It is costly and tends to be very bureaucratic as opposed to practical – it therefore doesn’t really suit a small company

You can find out whether ISO14001 is right for you in this article.

BS8555

BS8555 is a British Standard that has been specifically designed to help small to medium sized business achieve ISO14001 certification through a 6 phased process.

The six Phases of the standard are:

Commitment and Establishing the Baseline, Identifying and Ensuring Legal Compliance, Developing Objectives, Targets and Programmes, Implementation and Operation of the Environmental Management System, Checking, Audit and Review, and Environmental Management System Acknowledgement.

  • Country: UK Specific
  • Pros: Scaled approach to environmental management, less costly and easier to implement internally
  • Cons: Tends to suffer from the same bureaucratic constraints as ISO14001

Carbon Trust Standard

The Carbon Trust standard certifies organisations for real carbon reduction and commitment to ongoing reductions.

To achieve the Carbon Trust Standard you need to meet three criteria:

  1. Provide an accurate footprint measurement including all required emission sources.
  2. Demonstrate an absolute reduction of your footprint or equivalent relative efficiency improvement (Note: you will need at least two years data to do this)
  3. Demonstrate good carbon management to the standard including carbon governance, accounting, reduction methods and targets.
  • Country: UK specific
  • Pros: Most recognised carbon standard in the UK, relatively cheap (price ranges from £1,000 for companies with energy spend less than £50k, to £10,000 for companies with energy spend more than £10m
  • Cons: I don’t have many bad things to say about the Carbon Trust standard apart from saying that it is only Carbon focused and doesn’t really consider wider environmental impacts (waste, transport, water etc.)

Green Seal

Green Seal offers certification for the products, services, and companies that meet Green Seal standards.

The Green Seal mark represents compliance with a rigorous set of criteria designed to achieve leadership levels in sustainability.

  • Country: US specific
  • Pros: A more practical approach to environmental management. Very rigorous and thorough.
  • Cons: If you are looking for a light touch approach the Green Seal may be too in depth as it tends to be focused on the full life-cycle performance of products as opposed to the operation of the business

BREEAM Building Standard

BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and has become one of the most comprehensive and widely recognised measures of a building’s environmental performance.

BREEAM addresses wide-ranging environmental and sustainability issues and enables developers, designers and building managers to demonstrate the environmental credentials of their buildings to clients, planners and other initial parties.

  • Country: US specific, but can be applied internationally
  • Pros: A leading building standard for any developer, architect, property agent or building landlord to consider when trying to implement sustainable design principles
  • Cons: Tends to be too technical for individuals not involved in the management of buildings. Not suitable for general staff or for anyone trying to implement a holistic environmental programme for a business

LEED Building Standard

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

LEED is very similar to BREEAM.

  • Country: US specific, but can be applied internationally
  • Pros: A leading building standard for any developer, architect, property agent or building landlord to consider when trying to implement sustainable design principles
  • Cons: Tends to be too technical for individuals not involved in the management of buildings. Not suitable for general staff or for anyone trying to implement a holistic environmental programme for a business

I hope the list of green awards and green certifications above give you a better sense of what you could do to demonstrate your green credentials. Depending on the level of environmental commitment that you are looking to achieve, I would recommend that you first do your research on criteria requirements and costs.

About the Author Staff Writer

Our staff writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

Leave a Comment: