Imagine buying a car that had no quality control or eating food at a restaurant that bribed the inspector to leave them alone. No one wants to get into an airplane that has not been inspected by a trained professional from time to time. This is the case for 90% of the Green business certifications on the market. The public wants to know that a Green business has done more than design their own logo with a graphics program or bought a certification sight-unseen from an Internet vendor.
The public trust is at question, and recent reviews by the FTC have cast even more scrutiny on the subject. The facts are that if there is no “prove up” of the actual performance and no independent audit of that performance, cheating is invited, if not subtly encouraged.
The audacity of businesses, including large corporations, that manufacture their own Green certification is an insult to the intelligence of the public. Rather than allow for any outside review, various companies set their own standards and declare that they are Green. There is no review other than a corporate edict to its various divisions, which is eventually ignored anyway. As the FTC has discovered, self-proclaimed Green certifications are often deceptive practices.
In the same vein, online programs that do not require a standard of performance and a live audit are meritless. 90% of online Green certifications are little more than well-disguised deceptions. The website visitor must make it beyond the handsome and impressive website and the carefully crafted language to eventually discover that the Green certification is simply a matter of paying a fee and filling in online forms. No one will visit them, question them, or evaluate their performance. This is a “Pay to Play” gambit that offers bogus Green business certifications.
Imagine what the business owner will say when a customer asks, “How did you get your Green certification?” Will there be true transparency because the owner says, “I bought it online for a couple hundred dollars, but I really did nothing to earn it!” No. There will be an anxious pause as the owner tries to explain that he actually did something that earned this certification. In other words, they cannot tell the truth because it is embarrassing and insulting to the people they wish to impress.
Here’s another question. What would you think of a building inspector who issued the occupancy permit for your home that never actually inspected the house but took the word of the builder that everything was fine? Instead of protecting your family against toxic substances, bad wiring, and inferior materials; the inspector just took the money and issued the occupancy permit. This is bribery, and that is criminal.
Nonetheless, we see companies circumventing their duty by cutting corners on their Green program to issue their own brand of Green label, and other businesses that are willingly complicit with these bogus Green business certifications in the deception of the buying public.
I believe that “What is not measured, cannot be proven. And, what cannot be proven, need not be believed.” This is why companies must demonstrate enough ethical courage to accept only “Audited Green Business Certifications.” They must set this standard within their company and require the companies that serve their company.
Presently, the list of audited Green certification is small. They include Green Business League, LEED, ISO and a few localize consulting firms that require a hands-on approach. LEED and ISO are high end programs that are costly and complex applications. The Green Business League focuses more on the daily operation than building construction making this system affordable and effective.
When there is a customers, or governmental, backlash to the bogus Green business certifications; businesses will quickly abandon the bogus certifications like sticking fish. The best advice is to avoid them altogether and go with an independently audit program for your Green business.