Cheap Green Certifications

Apr 6, 2010 11:05 AM ET

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) April 6, 2010 - At some point, the decision is made to "Go Green" in your business.  The next question is "How do we do it?"  Ideas are floated around, and eventually someone turns to the Internet and does a Google search for Green business certification.  Suddenly, the web surfer finds dozens of websites offering Green certifications for anywhere from $300 to $1500.  The next step is to investigate each one to see which one offers the best "bang for the buck."

Some websites are bold and braggadocios.  Others are professional and appeal to the professional type.  But, we all know that websites are like billboards.  They are advertisements hoping to attract businesses no matter how humble the real business may be.  For $2500 to $5000, a website can have a very impressive offering.  So, let's not look for the cleverness of the design but let's ask some of the due diligence questions that prove the value of their boastful claims.

First of all, don't believe all that you read.  Skillful copywriters can pass off an idea for a fact.  One of the classic give-aways is if the company says that these are "audited certifications," but they are purposefully misusing the phrase instead of "self-assessment."  An audit is not how you judge yourself, but how a professional would look at you.  Just ask the IRS if they believe you when you send in your self-assessed tax return.  Do they say, "Good enough for me!"  Or do they eventually audit taxpayers to prove the validity of the return?

But, let's move on.  Weak certification sites rarely post their address.  Worst yet, they really want you to think that they are credible by posting a lengthy directory of "Green businesses."  If you do your due diligence on these listings, you will find that they started out with a free listing on a Green directory to attract scores of listings.  Later, they hope to re-populate the list with real members.  In the meantime, they work hard to convince their visitors that they are bigger than they really are.  If you find fake or vacant businesses in their directory, run away.

But, are these website offerings really helping save the world, or are they fattening their pockets in the hopes of buying a Hummer?  We have to ask, if these certifications are bought off the Internet with no cost of delivery, requires no live person to every meet you or conduct  real audit, and requires only downloaded compliance firms .... why are you doing the right thing by charging $50 because there is nearly a zero cost to the process?

The environmental crisis is not a marketing trend for marketeers to strip out money while the market is hot.  If a business can download the certification program with the same ease as an iTune, why not charge iTune prices?  Worse yet, what about people foolish enough to buy a hollow certification for highly inflated prices?

You don't see LEED, ISO, or Underwriters Labs (UL) selling their certification over the Internet.  Don't you wonder why they don't buy into the genius of these highly profitable websites.  Let me explain why these quality programs don't offer website purchases.  The answer is INTEGRITY.  Every educated person knows that you "can't prove what is not measured."  If these outfits were half-way honest, they would avoid these kinds of deceptive practices on their own websites and drop their prices to reflect the true value of what they offer.

The deception does stop at with the misrepresentation of these knock-off websites.  They are asking otherwise ethical business people to participate in the deception of the public.  Naive consumers who are willing to pay a little more from strained budgets, who travel a little further to find a Green vendor, or who make sacrifices to Go Green in their homes will be more than distraught if the truth were know about that Internet-bought Green business certification on the
door or in your advertising.

You see, the public will be deceived for a little while by cheap, Internet certifications; but it will not last.  Like every other deceptive business practice, the truth will eventually emerge, and the backlash will strike with true disgust toward businesses who made a mockery of the misery in this world.  If this were not true, why not be forthcoming and put a little sign by that Internet logo that says, "We bought our Green Certification off the Internet."

Bogus and unproven Green business certifications are frankly just another form of Greenwashing.  We know that Greenwashing is a method that business use to misrepresent their company or product to gullible consumers.  This is wrong, and there needs to be a way to get honest about our environmental commitment.

The Green Business League is the only Green business certification that requires a live audit by a trained Certified Green Consultant.  If you visit the directory of this company, you will not find hundreds of free listings or vacant businesses.  This list represents businesses that had to work their way up a nationally applied standard of points.  It isn't easy and the costs a probably a little higher than the website knock-offs.  Each GBL Green business certification is the result of a company's willingness to install enough Green practices to earn certification.  Greenwashing cannot occur because the Green practices are audited annually, and results are documented.

Since the Green or environmental issue is not going to go away, and it will be part of our everyday life; this is a decision that we must all live with.  For consumers, check out any company that boasts Green certification.  If any slob can buy it off the Internet for a fee, let that business know that this is a deceptive practice, Greenwashing, and not a place that you will bring your business.  After a few bouts with Green Integrity, the only question will be how long it takes to scratch that fake logo off the door.


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