Help with B Corp environmental requirements

How Green Small Business can help improve your B Impact Assessment Score

B Corp environmental requirements are driving more and more businesses to seek Green Small Business certification. More and more of our clients are using Green Small Business as a way of meeting the environmental requirements in their B Impact Assessments. This article provides an overview of what B Corp is all about and how Green Small Business can help.

What is B Corp?

The B Corp movement is huge and its momentum is growing. B Corps (‘certified B Corporations’ to be precise) are ‘businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose’. Big companies you will have heard of are B Corps (Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Danone and more), as are a myriad of smaller companies that will not yet have crossed your path. The number of certified B Corps is growing at a rapid rate, as evidenced by the current warning of certification delays on the B Corp website. The movement is truly capturing the shift in business toward ‘people, planet and profit’.

What are B Corp environmental requirements?

B Corp certification can be achieved by businesses of any size, from start-ups to multinationals. The process of achieving it starts with the completion of the B Impact Assessment, an assessment which spans community, customers, workers, environment and governance. To achieve B Corp certification, a score of at least 80 points is required across the various categories or ‘Impact Areas’.

The Impact Areas covered in the B Impact Assessment are: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, Customers and a Disclosure Questionnaire.

The B Corp environmental requirements are tailored to the size and type of business. When creating an account (which is free and confidential), you need to specify the sector, industry category, industry and number of employees in the business. These choices determine the questions asked in the impact assessment.

The choices of sector when opening an account for the B Impact Assessment are: Agriculture/Growers, Manufacturing, Service with Minor Environmental Footprint, Service with Significant Environmental Footprint and Wholesale/Retail.

I tried creating logins for a few different types of companies to see how the B Corp environmental requirements varied. Sensibly, there seemed to be most questions for businesses in the ‘Agriculture/Growers’ sector. The questions for businesses in the ‘Service with Minor Environmental Footprint’ seemed suitably light-touch.

There were 69 environment questions for my spoof Happy Carrots agricultural sector company, but only 31 for my real Green Small Business company (which sits in the ‘Service with Minor Environmental Footprint’ category)

Although the number of environmental questions varies, the categories of questions seem to stay the same, and cover:

  • Environmental management
  • Air & climate
  • Water
  • Land & life

How we help

The Green Small Business process is supporting a number of business to meet B Corp environmental requirements. Through conducting a light-touch but systematic review of the environmental impacts of a business, we identify where action needs to be taken and where priorities should lie. We then provide a tailored environmental policy that can be used to communicate environmental priorities to customers, staff and others. The policy is accompanied by a practical environmental action plan, which provides a clear and structured route for the business to deliver the policy and improve environmental performance. With the environmental policy and action plan in place, the business is then eligible for Green Small Business certification.

The most direct benefit of this for the B Impact Assessment score is in the Environmental Management section and, in particular, the sub-section on Environmental Management Systems.

Gaining Green Small Business certification would typically allow a business to tick all the boxes in the Environmental Management Systems sub-section, earning all of the available 1.33 points in this section.

With a Green Small Business environmental management system in place, many of the other questions in the Environment section of the assessment will also have been addressed. Since our action plans cover all of the significant environmental impacts of a business, the actions included within them will significantly improve the B Impact Assessment scores in the other sub-sections such as those on waste, recycling, transportation, water use etc.

For example, the section on ‘Facility Improvement with Landlord’ asks about efforts to implement or maintain energy, water and waste improvements within leased/rented facilities. These are precisely the kinds of actions which we explore with businesses and include within our action plans.

The sub-section on Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transportation includes questions on the policies in place to manage transport emissions. All Green Small Business action plans include action on these aspects, including the adoption of transport policies where relevant – we even supply templates for these policies!

As well as using the standard Green Small Business process to improve B Impact Assessment scores, we also offer consultancy support in key areas, including energy, emissions and water use.

Richard Hatfield, founder of e-commerce start-up Ventorq, outlined how Green Small Business was helping his business:

“As a small start-up, the requirements of B Corp can feel a bit overwhelming. We needed a simple but robust way of addressing our environmental impacts and identifying ways to improve. Green Small Business provided exactly what we needed. As well as helping us with our B Corp plans, Green Small Business certification helps to position Ventorq as a trustworthy and responsible business that does not place profit above ethics.”

To find out more about how we can help, check out our Get Started page or book an informal chat with us to find out more.

Check out these examples of businesses that have already gained Green Small Business certification.