"Once you embrace the idea of bringing in a fresh set of eyes, open your mind, and take the recommendations to heart, it will make you a better organization."
Nink Myers, Hub Labels
Environmental certifications and the certification process itself can offer the following benefits to both the environment and the certifying business:
- Foster a proactive approach to environmental management which can reduce liability, improve efficiency, save money, and increase resiliency and adaptability over the long term,
- Offer a tool for promoting continual improvement in environmental performance,
- Communicate an organization’s commitment to environmental stewardship and provide recognition among customers and other stakeholders,
- Boost sales and foster brand loyalty.
- Bring staff together across different levels and divisions within an organization to assess environmental impacts and opportunities, and
- Create opportunities for professional development and improving employee morale and retention.
Evaluating Certification Programs
Certification can be a demanding process so before devoting staff time and resources you’ll want choose carefully. Here are some questions to consider in selecting a program:
- Does it offer independent verification? Certifications that use accredited third-party auditors tend to be more effective in keeping environmental goals and program on track. Programs that are audited by the same organization that created the program are considered 'designation' or 'rating' programs and don’t offer the same independent oversight, but can still be useful in providing support and motivation to their participants.
- Is the program well known and widely accepted within your customer base, business sector or geographic area?
- Does the program offer a transparent set of criteria that will help inform your customers and stakeholders about what lies behind your badge or label? Does it also maintain a list of currently certified companies on its website?
- What is the cost of initial certification and renewals and what is the renewal period?
- Is the certification a good match for your facility or product? Does it promote and prove environmental aspects that are important to your brand identity?
Choosing the Type of the Certification Program
A comprehensive certification program that addresses all aspects of the facility and operations can be helpful in prioritizing projects and eliminating unintended consequences where mitigating one environmental impact creates a new one. If, however, a comprehensive certification is too large of an undertaking for your organization, consider more narrowly based certifications for your operations or products. The following are examples of programs with different scopes of certification and geographic eligibility.
Alternatives to Certification
If pursuing an environmental certification program is not a priority for your business at this time, you can still take advantage of some of the benefits of certification by creating structure around your environmental goals and communicating your results to suppliers and clients.
Fortunately, the Maryland Green Registry was created for this purpose! It encourages members to set annual environmental goals, create and maintain cross functional green teams, and promote continual improvement by setting and implementing new goals each year. Here are some easy first steps
The Maryland Green Registry Tips and Resources
pages and the nearly 600 member profiles
, which can be sorted by facility type, are good sources of ideas and inspiration. Many members have picked attributes important to them (e.g., reducing plastics, going landfill free) and have shared their progress through their profiles.
Update your Maryland Green Registry profile regularly and use it to convey your accomplishments in your own words. Link the profile from your website and share with your community. The annual Sustainability Leadership Awards
and monthly Member Spotlights are additional ways that the Maryland Green Registry can help you spread the word.