Do well by doing good
In the last 15 years, there has been a huge shift toward sustainable
business practices (which help the community and the environment
and also increase profitability). This is happening in part because
striving for sustainability:
Reduces operating costs.
Attracts and retains talented employees (especially Millennials).
Creates efficiencies and reduces expenses.
Improves the company’s image.
Brings into compliance vendors to large corporations. (Did you know
the majority of the largest businesses are pursuing sustainability?)
Helps the business foresee future regulations and get ahead of them.
Why certify your business?
Do you strive to be a responsible business, helping
the community, being a preferred employer, and
reducing your environmental footprint?
Get recognition for your ‘good business’ deeds and methods
Attract the growing cadre of customers want to do business with those
who share their values
Energize your employees with a powerful mission
Differentiate yourself from your competitors
Discover what the sustainable ‘end game’ is for your business
Identify practical actions you can make now to reduce costs and
improve your impact on the community and the environment
How sustainable is your business?
Conservationist (BRONZE): These businesses
are actively reducing their negative impacts on the
environment and are working to improve the lives
of their employees and their communities.
Innovator (SILVER): These businesses are
moving beyond traditional conservation and eco-
efficiencies, becoming producers of sustainable
resources, products and energy while influencing
customers, suppliers and peers.
Sustainable (GOLD): These businesses meet
globally accepted sustainability standards (ie,
redesigning their business model to empower
employees, to improve communities and to
restore ecosystems). This is the epitome of
sustainability and is very difficult but not
impossible to achieve at this time.
How to get started
If you’re unsure your business would qualify:
Take the Sustainable Business Certification as a guest to assess your
organization, learn about sustainable business practices and see if you
might qualify for one of our levels of certification. [NOTE: You can review
the questions but if you want to save your results, JOIN first.]
If you’ve been working on sustainability for a while:
Complete your profile and certification questions so see what level of
certification you qualify for. See your stars build as you work.
If you write in things you are doing which you think might qualify as an
alternative to the practices in the certification, a Sustainability Alliance
member will contact you with your final certification level.
There are only 12 questions; it takes about 15 minutes. Go to
How to get help
Want help filling out the survey?
Want to schedule a meeting to explore how to improve
your sustainability performance?
Contact Darcy Hitchcock
How you get recognized
What we do for you
Prepare a Press Release
Include you in our list of certified business linked to your website
Get certified businesses or our link referenced by others (eg, Chamber
of Commerce, Sedona Monthly, Kudos)
What you can do
Post our Certified Sustainable Business decal on your facility door
Use the Certification Badge on website and other marketing materials
Include reference to certification on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Yelp and
other social media
What does it cost? Becoming certified is currently free. After 2017, there may be a nominal fee to
cover administrative costs (currently estimated to be under $50). Anyone can take the survey as a
guest for free.
How long is the certification good for? You should recertify every year to get credit for your
improvements and continue to use the badges.
What if I made significant changes before the year is up and think I could earn another star?
Take the certification again—no charge.
How do customers know the certifications are accurate? The claims certified businesses make
will be available to the public. If customers or competitors notify us of an inaccurate claim, the
business will be given 60 days to correct the problem or have its certification stripped.
What if I have more than one location or facility? Certify each location separately unless their
management and facility are similar.
What if my business is certified in another program—We want to know about it. However, no
other certification is based on a scientific framework and goes to full sustainability. So you will learn a
lot by going through ours.
Why did the Sustainability Alliance create its own certification—Most certifications are, in our
view, weak. “You recycle, great, you’re a certified green business!” We could find no other existing
certification was easy and fast, based on hard science, provided levels of performance, included social
as well as environmental issues and went to full sustainability.
What is this certification based on? The Natural Step’s 4 principles or
system conditions are derived from hard science and describe a fully
sustainable society. Paraphrased, they call on businesses to:
Move away from or close the loop on non-renewable resources and
Move away from or close the loop on toxic materials (especially
persistent bioaccumulative toxins).
Preserve and restore critical ecosystems and their functions (eg,
cleaning air and water, creating renewable resources like fish and
Address human needs (for employees, customers, the local
communities and suppliers)
For more info on The Natural Step principles, go to Sustainability Illustrated and The Natural Step
For more insight into the structure of the questions in the
certification, please see the following slides.
Non-renewable energy & resources
Why it matters: Life evolved with certain materials buried deep inside the Earth.
When we dig up or pump out fossil fuels, metals and minerals and then set them
loose into nature, we disrupt the concentrations in nature. The objective related
to non-renewable resources changes for each level of performance.
Conservationist Innovator Sustainable
Improve energy efficiencies
Avoid metals and minerals
sourced from conflict zones
or mined with forced labor,
contributing to human
Switch toward renewable
energy and begin producing
Switch to recycled sources of
and more prevalent, less
Be ‘carbon neutral,’
producing no net
greenhouse gases on an
Source all metals and
minerals from recycled
sources, closing the loop
Why it matters: Industry makes well over 100,000 chemicals. Many are new to
nature and cannot easily be assimilated into nature. Some mimic hormones,
affecting child development. Determining a toxic level is complicated because a
certain concentration might not affect one organism but kill another. We need
to move away from chemicals that build up in the food chain or pollute air, water
or soil. Here is the focus for each level of performance.
Conservationist Innovator Sustainable
Stop using toxic chemicals where
safer ones are easily available and
Manage any hazardous materials to
protect employee and community
Recycle or dispose of toxic
materials so they don’t get into
Build systems for assessing and
Redesign processes and products
around non-toxic chemicals and
Produce no toxic emissions to air,
water or soil.
Achieve “zero waste” where all
materials are reused, recycled,
composted or turned into energy.
Nothing goes to landfills.
Why it matters: Nature provides many products and services our society is
dependent upon (eg, nature cleans water and air, nature pollinates and
nourishes our crops, and nature grows natural resources like fish and timber.)
So we need to protect the productivity of nature by preserving critical habitat,
reducing levels of harvest to a sustainable point and maintaining genetic
diversity. Here are the different focuses for each level of performance.
. Conservationist Innovator Sustainable
Reduce use of key natural
resources like water.
Recycle materials made from
natural resources to reduce
demand for virgin materials
Give preference to sustainable
sources of natural materials.
Purchase materials that are
certified as sustainable.
Work toward protecting or
restoring important ecosystems.
Live off the ‘interest’ of Nature,
no longer drawing down the
Why it matters: Sustainability is not just about the environment! It involves
providing a high quality of life within the constraints of nature. Social justice
and inclusion is important because the lack of them can destabilize society. Here
are the different focuses for each level of performance.
Conservationist Innovator Sustainable
Provide a high quality of work life
Investigate social and
environmental impacts with your
suppliers/vendors to uncover
possible risks and opportunities
Support the community.
Work with customers, suppliers
and the community to be more
Share profits and decision
making power with employees.
Catalyze significant sustainability
improvements in the community
and your industry.