Certification, Education, Networking & Recognition for Green & Sustainable Small & Medium Sized Businesses.

Green Plus is a two year long business improvement program focusing on business education, networking and recognition. Green Plus is recognized as a university backed, third-party certification through a broad, mainly chamber-based network. We work on the philosophy of triple bottom line sustainability - meaning we help you improve your bottom line by focusing on your environmental, social, and business practices - what we like to call the Planet, People, and Performance aspects of your business.

We educate, motivate, and recognize smaller enterprises for their efforts towards becoming more sustainable.
We're here to offer tangible, practical tips and expertise in sustainability.

Here's a breakdown of what we do.

Certification, Education, Networking & Recognition

Certification: Green Plus is a year long, triple bottom line education, networking and recognition program. Education combines online tools, graduate student coaching, and connecting peers region to region. Green Plus is now recognized as a university backed, third-party certification through a broad, mainly chamber-based network. In some areas (notably Cleveland, Ohio and in the past, North Carolina) the Institute offers scholarships for energy audits or micro loans in conjunction with our partners (the Council of Small Enterprises in Ohio and the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center in North Carolina).

Fostering a New Generation of Sustainability Leaders: Specifically, the Institute runs a multi-university Fellowship program – bringing together mainly graduate students from different disciplines (business, environment, law, social work and other disciplines), giving them a shared experience and helping them coach businesses in their own communities. Fellows work with the Institute full time over the summer and part time over the following academic year. In addition to business coaching, Fellows also often author individual and group research projects based on their field work.

Research Products and Studies: With its academic and chamber partners, the Institute has undertaken a number of products, case studies, research projects and how-to guides, including:

  • A small business energy efficiency guide in conjunction with COSE
  • A national undergraduate sustainable case study in conjunction with the AICPA
  • A survey of employers on their attitudes about sustainability and stakeholder engagement in partnership with BrownFlynn
  • Guides for rural entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to participate in the green economy

Economic Development and Public Policy Initiatives: The Institute is translating empirical and qualitative lessons from working with businesses and nonprofits into economic development and public policy models. In Cleveland, the Institute is working to connect purchasing incentives to sustainable practices. In North Carolina, the Institute is connecting sustainable efforts to capital (micro-loans).

The Institute seeks to reach middle and late adopters of sustainable practices and help them and their communities learn across U.S. regions.

Our mission is to:

  • Democratize triple bottom line sustainability by making it accessible to smaller employers and their communities,
  • Foster a new generation of sustainability leaders,
  • Develop a common understanding of sustainability principles across cultures.

Our Impact

We know it's important to take a critical look at impact, and we're taking steps to do so. In the Spring of 2011, the Institute was fortunate to have a Masters student from the school of the environment at Duke University survey Green Plus businesses about the impacts the program had on their businesses.

31 businesses participated in the survey and in-depth interviews. Key findings included:

  • 87% of businesses claim that sustainability has become more integrated into their organization since joining Green Plus
  • 90% report that Green Plus altered their course with regard to sustainability
  • 52% believed that Green Plus helped them generate new business
  • For more than 50%, Green Plus was the first sustainability certification their business had pursued
  • Other findings told us more about the characteristics of organizations involved in the program, such as:

  • 66% have a "green team"
  • 87% have an employee they would identify as a sustainability champion
  • 65% claim that they have over 80% employee participation in sustainability efforts
  • 77% partner with nonprofits through volunteering, donations, or in-kind support
  • And more generally, the results found that in pursuing Green Plus Certification, a variety of new practices were launched, particularly in the areas of management practices, energy and water conservation, waste reduction and alternative transportation.

We are grateful to Catherine Noyes, the Class of 2011 Nicholas School student, for her efforts in compiling these findings and invite you to review her presentation here. In the future, we plan to continue measuring the impact of Green Plus and hope to increase the sample size of those included in the survey.

Our Staff

Program Director; akomar@gogreenplus.org
Amanda is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she received her master's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication...