Environmental Management Plans and Green Certification FAQ’s

Here’s a helpful list of answers to questions you may have about Green Small Business and our products and services.

What is a Green Small Business Environmental Management System?

To be a certified Green Small business you will need an environment management system (EMS). Sounds a bit scary but it comprises two very simple elements:

  1. Environmental policy.
  2. Environmental action plan, containing information on:
  • The significant environmental impacts of the business or organisation.
  • Your proposed actions to address these impacts.

You can create these two documents yourself or you can let us do the work for you.

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How much does Green Small Business services and products cost?

Getting an Environmental Management System (EMS) in place could cost you nothing if you use our free guide and do the work yourself. The maximum cost, where we do most of the work for you, is £299 ($399). This includes the first 12 months Green Small Business certification.

If you prepare the EMS yourself and want to get it certified, the certification costs £199 ($259). Renewal of the certification each year costs the same.

Contrast that with costs of the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard – typically between £1,100 and £2,100 per year for small businesses.

Unsure which route to take? Check out our Get Started page.

Why become a Green Small Business?

There are at least five great reasons:

1. Increase the markets and funding opportunities you can access

If you want to secure a contract with a Government body or another other public sector body, then you will probably be required to demonstrate how you are managing your environmental impacts. 

Many private companies now expect their suppliers to adopt environmentally-friendly practices and want evidence to demonstrate that they are doing so. Customers and employees increasingly expect the same.

2. Save money

Your business can save money by understanding and managing how you use energy and water, where your raw materials come from and how you dispose of waste.

A UK Government study found that environmental management systems delivered cost savings for the majority of small and medium-sized businesses. The payback period for the costs of setting up the environmental management system was a mere 3 months.

3. Enhance your reputation

The public image of your company will no doubt be important to you. With environmental awareness ever on the rise, demonstrating your commitment to the environment will enhance your reputation among your clients, customers and potential customers.

And it pays. The UK Government study referred to above found that two thirds of companies had either achieved new sales or were expecting to do so as a result of their environmental management system.

4. Improve your environmental performance

A successful environmental management system can reduce resource use, energy use and waste. One UK study of 28 small businesses found that they made an average saving in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of 38.9 tonnes per £1m turnover. 1 tonne of CO2 is about the size of a three-storey building!

5. It’s the right thing to do!

And getting Green Small Business certification is a great way of demonstrating that you are doing the right thing.

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Why Green Small Business?

1. It’s specifically designed for small businesses

We know you don’t have time to dedicate to developing, implementing and monitoring an elaborate environmental management system. It’s one more thing on top of an endless list of other things. Green Small Business allows you to develop an environmental management system which is appropriate for the size of your business and the scale of your environmental impacts.

All of our materials are written in language you can understand, not in technical mumbo-jumbo. We have worked hard to make sure that Green Small Business does not feel like a burden. We want your environmental management system experience to be positive and for it to make a difference to how you operate.

2. You can get certified quickly

Developing an environmental management system under other certification schemes can take months, sometimes years. We know that small businesses can’t wait that long. You need an environmental management system in place now so that you can access the benefits straight away.

We have no different grades or levels of performance. Just a simple certification process for all small businesses that demonstrate they are improving their environmental management.

3. The costs are fixed

Go down the standard environmental management system route, which was designed with big businesses in mind, and it could take a quite a while to work out what meeting the standard will cost you. The inspection body might want to visit you or carry out an initial assessment before giving you a precise cost, meaning you may have to start spending money without knowing what the final bill is going to be.

We know that’s not how small businesses work. You need to know what the costs are now so that you can make a decision and plan ahead.

4. It’s exceptional value

Using our completely free guide , you can develop an environmental management system at zero cost.

If you choose to get your environmental management system certified, certification costs only £199 ($259) per year.

If you would like us to develop your environmental management system for you and certify it for 1 year, the cost is £299 ($399).

And contrast our costs with those of a standard environmental management system – typically between GBP1,100 and 2,100 per year!

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Is Green Small Business suitable for my business?

Green Small Business has been designed specifically for small businesses and other small organisations. Micro-businesses (typically less than 10 employees) will love Green Small Business.

Bigger organisations who are office-based and whose main environmental impacts are associated with travel and purchasing, are also likely to opt for Green Small Business over other certification schemes.

Green Small Business is suitable for a very wide range of business and organisation types, including:

  • service companies (accountants, financial advisers, management consultancies, recruitment agencies, estate agents, retailers etc.)
  • tradespeople (builders, plumbers, electricians etc)
  • entertainment businesses (festivals, events etc).
  • hospitality businesses (hotels, restaurants, visitor attractions etc)
  • small-scale manufacturers/producers

Bigger manufacturing companies, particularly those which involve the use of any hazardous materials, are probably better suited to traditional environmental management systems.

And if your business is directly involved in fossil fuel extraction, the arms trade or the production of tobacco or gambling products, these are inconsistent with the goals of Green Small Business and we will not be able to certify you.

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Is environmental certification necessary?

Having independent environmental certification of your business can generate significant benefits for your marketing and your bottom line. It can also help to keep you on your toes – avoiding your environmental management system simply gathering dust on a shelf.

However, the setting up of an environmental management system can be entirely informal. You can design, monitor and implement it yourself.

The main thing is to get your environmental policy and action in place.

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What other green certification schemes are available?

The two main environmental management system certification schemes are ISO 14001 and EMAS.

A third, BS 8555 scheme does not provide certification but provides guidance for implementing an environmental management system on a phase-by-phase basis.

In theory, these schemes are suitable for businesses of all sizes. In practice, they’re beyond the reach of many small businesses, requiring significant investment of time and money on an ongoing basis to develop, implement and monitor. Even the simpler BS 855 approach has seven stages in phase 1 alone!

Particularly in the case of office-based organisations who don’t produce lots of waste, consume lots of water or energy or handle hazardous materials, getting ISO 14001 of EMAS certification can feel over-the-top.

That’s where Green Small Business comes in. It’s based on many of the same principles as ISO 14001 but it’s specifically tailored to small businesses.

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If I develop my environmental management plan myself, can I still get it certified by Green Small Business?

Yes, absolutely!

If you use the handbook to prepare your environmental management system yourself, you can of course tell the world that you have an environmental management system in place and that you followed the principles of the Green Small Business approach. However, you can’t claim Green Small Business certification.

If you later decide to seek Green Small Business certification, we would be delighted!. We’ll check your environmental management system and provide you with Green Small Business certification – you can pay for certification here.

How much work is involved in preparing a Green Small Business environmental management plan?

This is a tricky one! It really depends on the type of business or organisation you are and the scope and scale of your environmental impacts. Using the Green Small Business Handbook and the accompanying tools, we reckon most small businesses could have an environmental management system in place with around 3-5 hours work.

You can of course let us do the work for you.

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What is ISO 14001 certification?

ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management systems. Traditional environmental management systems like ISO 14001 can work really well for bigger businesses. In theory, they are also suitable for small businesses.

In practice, they require levels of time and money that are beyond what most small businesses can sustain. The evidence suggests that, when it comes to businesses at the smaller end of the scale, standard environmental management systems aren’t fit for purpose.

At Green Small Business we’ve created the perfect alternative to ISO 14001 certification for small businesses. Find the right product for your business.

What is the most common third party environmental certification?

The two main environmental management system certification schemes are ISO 14001 and EMAS. These are the most common.

A third, BS 8555 scheme does not provide certification but provides guidance for implementing an environmental management system on a phase-by-phase basis.

There are a whole host other independent third party certifications out there. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are sector-specific, like the Green Tourism Scheme. Others, like B Corp, incorporate environmental requirements alongside wider social and governance requirements. We think Green Small Business is unique in being solely focused on getting it right for small businesses.

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How much does it cost to get a sustainability certification?

The costs of different certification schemes can vary hugely. The costs will depend on the scheme and the size of the business. Going for ISO14001 will probably cost multiple thousands. Other schemes can be cheaper but we are confident that Green Small Business is the best value.

Using our completely free guide , you can develop an environmental management system at zero cost.

If you choose to get your environmental management system certified, certification costs only £199 ($259) per year.

If you would like us to develop your environmental management system for you and certify it for 1 year, the cost is £299 ($399).

Get Started

What are some environmental certifications?

The prominence of issues such as the climate emergency and plastic pollution mean that consumers and employees are making ever-increasing demands for environmental responsibility. As the business world transforms in response, so the number of environmental certification schemes grows. As well as ISO 14001 and EMA, we now have The Planet Mark, Investors in the Environment and many more besides. It can be confusing and you may not know which one to choose.

If you are a small- or micro-business, i.e. fewer than 50 employees and £10m turnover, Green Small Business was designed to make your choice straightforward. Our approach has been specifically designed with small business in mind.

If yours is a medium-sized business (50-250 staff or £10-50m turnover) or your business has more complex environmental impacts (e.g. manufacturing businesses with complex supply chains) we can still help you but we will just need to chat through your requirements first. We have worked with a number of medium-sized businesses, including those operating multi-nationally.

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How do I become a certified green business?

To be a certified Green Small business you will need an environment management system (EMS). Sounds a bit scary but it comprises two very simple elements:

  1. Environmental policy.
  2. Environmental action plan, containing information on:
  • The significant environmental impacts of the business or organisation.
  • Your proposed actions to address these impacts.

You can create these two documents yourself or you can let us do the work for you. Once you have these documents in place we can provide independent certification, which is renewed on an annual basis.

Get Started

Why is environmental certification important?

Businesses seek environmental certification for all sorts of reasons:

  • It might be a requirement for a tender submission or funding application
  • It might be required by a customer
  • It might help with a B Corp application process
  • It might be useful in promoting the environmental credentials of the business
  • It might simply because its important to the staff within the business

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Are sustainability certifications worth it?

We’re biased of course, but we think sustainability certifications are worth it for the following benefits they can generate:

1. They can increase the markets and funding opportunities you can access

If you want to secure a contract with a Government body or another other public sector body, then you will probably be required to demonstrate how you are managing your environmental impacts. 

Many private companies now expect their suppliers to adopt environmentally-friendly practices and want evidence to demonstrate that they are doing so. Customers increasingly expect the same.

2. It can help you attract and retain quality staff

We have a growing number of businesses who have gone through the certification process because their staff were demanding environmentally responsible practices.

Recent research found that 26 per cent of workers would be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for working for a business which acted responsibly in terms of the environment.

Furthermore, 28% would actually consider quitting their current role and transitioning into one which was offered by a more environmentally responsible company. Of this 28%, within the age range of 23-28, which harbours a significant number of millennials, 50% would do so.

3. It can save you money

Your business can save money by understanding and managing how you use energy and water, where your raw materials come from and how you dispose of waste.

A UK Government study found that environmental management systems delivered cost savings for the majority of small and medium-sized businesses. The payback period for the costs of setting up the environmental management system was a mere 3 months.

3. Enhance your reputation

The public image of your company will no doubt be important to you. With environmental awareness ever on the rise, demonstrating your commitment to the environment will enhance your reputation among your clients, customers and potential customers.

And it pays. The UK Government study referred to above found that two thirds of companies had either achieved new sales or were expecting to do so as a result of their environmental management system.

4. Improve your environmental performance

A successful environmental management system can reduce resource use, energy use and waste. One UK study of 28 small businesses found that they made an average saving in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) of 38.9 tonnes per £1m turnover. 1 tonne of CO2 is about the size of a three-storey building!

Get started today.

Why is Green Business important?

Green business is the future.

With mass public exposure to issues like plastic pollution and rising awareness and acceptance of the climate emergency, environmental responsibility is becoming mainstreamed within business.

Consumer demands are shifting, supply chains are adapting, and those businesses that don’t follow suit will be left behind.

For many years, with the odd exception, committedly green businesses have been on the fringes. But the business world is changing fast. The biggest companies in the world (Apple, Amazon, Google etc) have all made huge commitments to sustainable operations. We ought to be sceptical of many of their claims and commitments but the mere fact that they have made them is an indication of the change underway.

Businesses are increasingly building the environment in to their decision making and Green Small Business provides a way of doing that in a systematic way and of showcasing that to customers.

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Get in Touch

We would love to hear from you. If you have any questions about Green Small Business or about managing the environmental impacts of your business, book a call or send us a message using the contact form.

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