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Certifiably Green

Strut your business's eco-friendly stuff with the help of these 10 programs.

As an environmentally conscious business owner, you know how green your business is, but can you prove that to your customers and clients? Fortunately, a number of different programs can certify your business and your products to give them the all-important, official green stamp of approval. Here are 10.

  1. Cradle-to-Cradle:
    With a name that emphasizes the renewable lifecycle of a product, this program measures everything from materials to manufacturing processes in order to ensure social and environmental responsibility. Products are certified as Silver, Gold or Platinum.
  2. USDA National Organic Program:
    How can you tell if those juicy, red apples you're handling or selling are really organic? The National Organic Program certifies organic products for food producers, processors, distributors and retailers.
  3. ScienceCertification Systems:
    SCS emphasizes its scientific methods for certifying products. SCS-certified product categories include office furniture, wood products, cleaning products and building materials. The organization also certifies manu-facturing sectors, fisheries and floral companies.
  4. Greenguard Environmental Institute:
    Greenguard certifies consumer products, building materials and construction designs with low chemical and particle emissions to ensure healthier air quality.
  5. Green Seal:
    Green Seal certifies a variety of product categories, but it also certifies lodging properties such as hotels, motels, resorts and inns. The organization works with the hospitality industry by contributing to trade articles and promoting environmentally friendly purchasing practices and energy efficiency tactics.
  6. U.S. Green Building Council:
    This nonprofit is composed of more than 15,000 organizations that work to achieve environmentally friendly building goals. Its LEED rating system rates buildings on criteria such as water conservation, energy efficiency and building materials.
  7. Energy Star:
    The EPA's mark of greenness, the Energy Star program, certifies not only products, but also commercial, industrial and retail buildings. The program has extensive resources for small businesses looking to go green, and buildings that achieve a rating of 75 or higher on the EPA's rating system can display the Energy Star symbol.
  8. Rainforest Alliance:
    This organization works with foresters and farmers world-wide to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly businesses. The organization certifies farms, wood and agricultural products like paper and produce, and provides resources and education for tourism businesses.
  9. Green Advantage environmental certification:
    Green Advantage certifies builders, contractors and subcontractors who have demonstrated their ability to build green structures. The organization provides education and training resources as well as a certification exam.
  10. Green Restaurant Association:
    The GRA works within all aspects of the restaurant industry, certifying restaurants and products such as containers, trays, plates and bags. The organization also provides employers with consulting services and educational materials about green practices in the workplace.

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This article was originally published in the August 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Certifiably Green.

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