In today’s business environment, being certified for energy efficiency and sustainability practices is a boon to any company or organisation. Energy and sustainability certifications help showcase a business organisation’s commitment to fighting the ill effects of climate change.
Energy and sustainability certifications benefit companies and business organisations because:
- The appropriate certification improves a company or organisation’s sustainability business profile
- Certified companies also attract better employees and clients which can help improve the overall bottom line performance.
- Credible certifications also help protect companies from “greenwashing” and legitimise their sustainability practices.
- Sustainability certifications are the best way to win the confidence of business investors, particularly because companies with a lower ESG risk profile provide a higher return on investment
This article will cover the different energy and sustainability certifications your company or business organisation should consider.
Must Have Energy & Sustainability Certifications Organisations Should Consider (as a minimum)
Climate Active – Regardless of size or sector, it encourages all business organisations to take action against climate change. Being Climate Active-certified proves that a company or organisation has taken all necessary steps to achieve zero net emissions. The main reasons to become Climate Active-certified are:
- To ensure your business isn’t contributing more than it should to the global warming target of 1.5 C sa per the Paris Agreement
- Delivers a robust framework for submitting annual energy reports, building performance, and implementing emissions reduction strategies.
- Teaches a company or business organisation market resilience, preparing it for changes in water and energy costs, and federal regulations on waste management.
- Helps differentiate a business organisation from its competition, giving it an advantage in the market.
A NABERS rating is independent, based on real energy data and provides a comparison to buildings like yours.
There are various types of NABERS ratings including: Energy, Water, Indoor Environment, Waste and Carbon Neutral.
A NABERS star rating can be used to:
- Understand your energy/water/waste efficiency, and potential for savings
- Track progress and demonstrate impact of changes
- Communicate your performance and commitment to efficiency
- Provides a baseline to enable tracking and improvement with yearly feedback
- Achieving a higher rating assists with tenant retention and attraction
Moreover, NABERS is a commonly used path towards a Climate Active Certification.
The Newcastle Holiday-Inn Express (owned by Pro-Invest Group) is the very first Hotel in Australia to be certified as Carbon Neutral under the NABERS and Climate Active scheme.
If your business is wihtin the travel and tourism industry, EarthCheck Certified is the gold standard that you should aim to attain. EarthCheck is the world’s leading environmental certification and benchmarking program for the travel and tourism industry.
- Certification helps businesses to improve themselves: undertaking a certification process is educational and enlightening to management and staff about what consitutes best practice in sustainability.
- Certification tends to reduce operating costs as sustainable practices are adopted to comply with certification requirements.
- Improved access to technical assistance and financing for businesses to implement new technology – the business is educated about these technologies, while donors and financial institutions are more likely to offer low-cost financing.
- Certification can provide a marketing advantage to certified businesses, as consumers learn to recognise credible certification brands.
Green Star is an internationally recognised rating system setting the standard for healthy, resilient, positive buildings and places. A Green Star certification provides independent assurance that high standards across a range of sustainability categories have been met.
Undertaking Green Star certification demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility
Green Star-certified projects can:
- Lower operating costs and increase asset value
- Use 66% less electricity than average Australian buildings
- Use 51% less potable water than the average Australian building
built to meet minimum industry requirements
- Boost productivity due to better indoor environments
- Deliver a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace
B Corp Certification
B Corp Certification – another international certification system that can measure a business organisation’s environmental and social impact. A B Corp certification is similar to the ‘triple bottom line’ and is a way for profit organisations to show they give equal weight to people, planet and profit.
- Encourages social responsibility. When your company is a B corp, it holds you and your practices accountable for social and environmental responsibility. Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainable companies and want to be convinced of their social efforts.
- Attracts like-minded employees. Knowing your business is actively trying to make a positive social change will attract top talent looking to find meaning in their careers.
- Cost savings. Registering as a B corp can save your company money in the long run. You’ll have access to B corp community data, which provides you access to learn the most cost-effective means to be sustainable. Plus, the certification process helps companies identify needless and wasteful spending.
ISO 14001; 50001
ISO Certification for Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001) – The International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14001) certification was designed to help organisations manage their environmental impact while delivering results in a sustainable manner. The main reasons why an ISO 14001 is essential:
- Resources are utilised in an efficient manner
- Improved efficiency means a profitable bottom line
- Certain industries require ISO 14001 as a prerequisite prior to submitting bids or tenders
- Business organisations can meet their regulatory and legal obligations for environmental management
- A detailed framework is provided to assist companies in managing their environmental responsibilities by improving their current practices and setting new targets and objectives to achieve sustainability goals
ISO 14001 certification is also available for energy management, pollution prevention, and environmental performance evaluation/auditing and reporting systems.
An additional and highly relevant ISO Certification is ‘ISO 50001 – Energy Management.
ISO 50001 is based on the management system model of continual improvement also used for other well-known standards such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. This makes it easier for organisations to integrate energy management into their overall efforts to improve quality and environmental management.
How to Successfully Complete Energy & Sustainability Certification Programs
After choosing the right certification program, the next step is to complete it. Here are some tips on how to become successfully certified:
- Review your preferred certification options – Due diligence means conducting background checks and research. The market is full of illegitimate programs and greenwashing schemes. Pick a trusted third-party certifier to guide you with your options.
- Undergo a comprehensive assessment – This is an important tip as this helps you understand what your business needs to pass the initial green assessment. Most of these certification programs have comprehensive online surveys for your convenience or have an energy consultant assist you with the assessment.
- Set business goals & prioritise the next steps – After learning about your business’ sustainability status, set energy & sustainability goals. Create steps to achieve these goals and include them in your certification reports.
- Encourage employees to engage with the program – a successful certification program will not be complete without the participation of your employees. Inspire them to engage, work as a team, and become sustainability ambassadors and champions.
- Measure savings & record results for the next certification level – data from results & savings will help you, as you aim to perfect the next certification level. Certifications are lifetime tools that can be utilised as your company grows.
These are just some of the sustainability & environmental certifications available, but business leaders must understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting certified. They should be ready to shoulder the costs tied with certifications, being transparent and the yearly reviews for certificate renewals. There are no shortcuts toward sustainability and achieving net zero.