Is Your Business a Green Business?
The Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County certifies several different types of businesses for their efforts in energy reduction, water use and, of course, waste reduction.
This page has many details about the program as well as information about our previous Green Awards Program.
History of the Program
From 1994 through 2007, the Green Awards Consortium honored up to five businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara County with a Green Award. These recipients were honored for taking actions above and beyond their basic missions to protect, preserve, and improve the environment in such areas as solid waste reduction and recycling, water conservation, energy conservation, hazardous waste reduction and recycling, and prevention and reduction of pollution of the air, water, and soil. Take a look at our Green Award Archives page for more information about the former program.
In 2006, members of the Green Awards Consortium began transitioning the Green Awards Program to the multi-jurisdictional Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County (GBPSBC) to certify businesses for their environmental practices. Under the GBPSBC, businesses are offered positive incentives and free assistance to encourage them to implement actions that protect, preserve, and improve the environment above and beyond their compliance with applicable regulations. Businesses meeting these criteria are certified as "green" businesses.
Among its achievements, the Green Business Program educates businesses on how to incorporate resource conservation into their practices, makes the public aware of businesses that are environmental stewards, and fosters a positive relationship among governmental agencies, the business community, and the public. This is a voluntary incentive program for environmentally conscientious businesses. The program allows environmental regulators and advocates to provide support and to recognize participating businesses that implement good environmental management practices.
Goals and Objectives
The GBPSBC strives to meet the following goals and objectives:
- To promote environmental ethics in Santa Barbara County by preventing and reducing the pollution of the air, water, and soil;
- To reduce consumption of our natural resources and minimize exposure to toxics;
- To help businesses integrate environmental practices into their operations in a sustainable as well as profitable manner; and
- To foster positive relationships among governmental agencies, the business community, and the public.
Currently, businesses in the following sectors are eligible to apply for certification: office/retail, restaurants, lodging establishments, and automotive shops. Additional sectors will be added based on demand and available resources.
Steps to Becoming a Certified Green Business
The following steps describe the process for becoming certified as a "green" business:
- A business contacts the Green Business Program Director (Program Director) to obtain and complete an application and a checklist applicable to its sector;
- The Program Director reviews the application and checklist to ensure that they are complete;
- Serving as a one-stop shop, the Program Director contacts applicable regulatory agencies to have them review the completed checklist, to conduct a file review of past and/or pending violations and, if necessary, to conduct a site inspection;
- The Program Director conducts an on-site evaluation to verify the environmental practices of the business; offers suggestions and guidance for improvement; promotes incentives (e.g. advises the business about rebate programs); and makes the business aware of other business award programs;
- Upon completion of the evaluation, the Program Director recommends to the Steering Committee that the business be certified.
Benefits to Businesses
Through the GBPSBC, businesses receive free, convenient, and time-saving assistance in implementing environmental practices that go beyond complying with applicable environmental regulations. The Program Director serves as a liaison between a business and applicable regulatory agencies. Among the benefits that a business receives by becoming a certified "green" business are the following:
- Save money by lowering costs and increasing productivity;
- Foster positive, proactive relationships with local compliance inspectors to help avoid liability, fines, and other penalties;
- Attract new customers through free advertising in a directory of "green certified" businesses; a display of the Green Business logo; advertising in chamber of commerce membership directories, websites, and publications; and recognition on the website of the GBPSBC and partner agencies;
- Serve as a model for other businesses on ways to improve environmental performance; and
- Improve employee morale by ensuring a safer, healthier workplace.
Certification for the business will last for three years.
The GBPSBC strives to establish or enhance constructive relationships between businesses and governmental agencies, whereby the governmental agencies provide technical assistance to help businesses improve their environmental performance. Governmental agencies are encouraged to collaborate to make the regulatory process more efficient, to foster better relations with businesses to bring them into full compliance, and to motivate businesses to take measures that go beyond compliance to achieve GBPSBC standards.
Certification is site specific. To be certified, a business must demonstrate that its practices and operations at a particular location meet GBPSBC standards. The GBPSBC does not certify manufactured products, professional qualifications, or quality of service.
Compliance with Environmental Regulations
A business must demonstrate compliance with all applicable environmental regulations in order to be certified as a green business. In general, each governmental agency must verify compliance with its applicable regulations. The Program Director will ask each regulatory agency to conduct a file review to determine when it last conducted an inspection of the business applicant, whether any serious violations were identified, and the cooperation and responsiveness of the business in resolving the violations. Depending on the regulatory area, some businesses may be inspected annually, while other businesses need only be inspected every three years. For certification purposes, a business must be inspected at least once every three years.
Green Business Standards
In addition to complying with applicable regulations, businesses must meet the Green Business standards, as reflected in the checklists, to be certified. The Green Business standards require that a business go beyond compliance with applicable regulations by voluntarily adopting measures to protect the environment through solid waste reduction and recycling, energy and water conservation, and pollution prevention.
Certification of Businesses
The Program Director will recommend initial approval of certification of a business, and the Steering Committee will give its final approval. A business that has achieved environmental compliance and has met the Green Business standards will receive a certificate and a window decal with the GBPSBC logo that it can display, and can use in its materials and on its website. The Program Director will provide instructions to each certified green business on the use of the GBPSBC logo as well as the decal. Certified green businesses will be recognized through a directory of certified green businesses, print media, advertising, and the GBPSBC website, and may also be recognized through an annual event. GBPSBC Partners may also publicize certified green businesses in their promotional materials, events, advertising, and on their websites. In addition, GBPSBC Partners have the option of hosting their own public recognition ceremonies that include certified green businesses.
Re-Certification of Businesses
The green business certification and decal with GBPSBC logo are valid for a period of three years. Depending on local regulations and priorities, local agencies may conduct inspections of businesses more frequently than every three years. Businesses that wish to be re-certified as green businesses must demonstrate that additional actions to improve the environment have been taken. At a minimum, businesses must demonstrate that they are in compliance with all environmental regulations and are maintaining Green Business standards.
Revocation of Certification/Decal Removal
The GBPSBC certification will be revoked, the decal will be removed from the premises of the business, and the business will be prohibited from using the GBPSBC logo for serious violations of environmental regulations and a failure to maintain Green Business standards.
Certified green businesses that relocate their premises will be required to reapply and demonstrate that operations in the new location meet all GBPSBC certification criteria. Green businesses that change ownership will also be required to reapply and demonstrate that operations under the new ownership meet all GBPSBC certification criteria.
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