Reducing dependency on natural resources and consciously taking steps to improve the health of the natural systems of our communities helps to ensure long-term success and resiliency to the impacts of climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group's Sixth Assessment Report, human activity is causing the planet to get warmer. Business actions that pollute land, water, and air resources or which rely on fossil fuel consumption contribute greatly to climate change. Establishing a “planet forward” or “green” priority within your business starts with consciously understanding how your business or organization can operate in the best interests of the local and global environment. This creates both a healthy economy and planet.
This also helps to reduce many operational costs. Simple changes, such as opting for an electronic filing system versus a printed, paper file system, can help to reduce associated printing, paper supply, and storage unit costs while also minimizing the environmental impact of paper usage. This cost savings can be passed along to your customers and stakeholders, creating a sustainable business model.
SUSTAINABILITY HAS BECOME A DEFINING FACTOR IN BUSINESS VIABILITY
Businesses employing sustainable practices save money, attract and retain talent, and establish their brand as a socially conscious company committed to environmental practices.
Targeting an In-Demand Demographic
Additionally, the importance of corporate environmental practices is increasing among American consumers. According to a corporate social responsibility study form Cone Communications, 87% of American consumers will make a purchase because a company advocated for an issue they care about. What’s more, 73% of Americans responded indicating they would stop purchasing from a company that does not prioritize climate change, and 76% of Americans expect companies to take action against climate change. Within the Millennial and Gen Z generations, the importance of social and environmental issues is even higher. This combined demographic accounts for more than $1 trillion in annual consumer spending with 73% reporting a willingness to spend more for sustainable products. More than any other age group, this demographic searches for meaning from their work and purpose through organizations they patronize. Setting planet-forward priorities within your organization may not only attract environmentally conscious customers but also makes your organization a more attractive for the Millennial/Gen Z workforce. It is estimated that by the year 2025, more than 2/3 of the US labor force will be Millennials or Gen Z.
Triple Bottom Line
In 1994, SustainAbility founder John Elkington coined the term “triple bottom line” as a framework for examining a company’s social, environmental, and economic impact. This framework places people, planet, and prosperity (formerly, profit) as equally weighted, interwoven factors in an organization’s success. A triple bottom line (TBL) approach (also known as 3Ps or 3BL) works to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive impacts on all three components. Many of the world’s largest companies, including General Electric, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble have embraced the concept of TBL. Ikea and Patagonia have seen financial and workforce benefits from a TBL framework with the former reporting a 2016 savings of $1 million by recycling waste and the latter reporting a meager 4% employee turnover rate in 2019 due to their employee-friendly work culture and commitment to environmental impact education. Committing your organization to social and environmental concerns increases longevity and sustainability as a global business, increases your reputation as a company who cares, attracts an in-demand labor demographic, and makes your business low risk for investors.
Green Standard Certification
The core function of Building Sustainable Connections (BSC) is to encourage sustainable actions. The Green Standard Certification was established to recognize area organizations which place sustainability at the forefront of their operations. Whether knowingly or not, many local entities have adopted a TBL framework or have begun taking steps to be more environmentally conscious in their local community. Certification under the BSC Green Standard program establishes that organizations have met or exceeded local standards for sustainability practices. As an independent verification entity, this certification can be used to bolster your organizational brand as a socially conscious company that is committed to environmental protection. Our certification checklist also helps to potentially identify opportunities for improvement in your organization’s green framework, or to identify cost savings opportunities for your business. As a Green Standard Certified organization, you will also be a part of a community of organizations in eastern South Dakota, and your organization will be listed on the Green Standard Certified directory. You may also use the Green Standard Certified logo on your print and electronic materials – including your website, email signature, business cards, and other items to convey your green credentials. You will receive a certificate and a window decal to post in your office. This certificate will show your commitment to sustainability and differentiate your organization from competitors. In a recent Nielsen survey, it was concluded that organizations “have to define a credible, relevant social purpose, deliver greater social value, and communicate that value effectively to attract and retain customers.” Certification through the Green Standard program will help your organization communicate this commitment to your community and the environment.
After completing your Green Standard Certificate Checklist, it will be reviewed to ensure your organization meets the level of certification indicated in your application. Within 30 days, a site visit will be scheduled.
Upon confirmation of your Certification status, you will receive an email with files for our certificate branding for your use. You are able to utilize these files for each year that you are a member. Membership periods are for a period of one year, and recertification, including a site inspection, is required every three years, during which time your organization will be featured on the Green Standard Certified directory. If your organization wishes to apply for an advanced award level (Bronze to Silver, or Silver to Gold) before the end of the three-year period, a new application and site visit are required (application fees will be adjusted on a sliding scale to account for this advancement).