25 Legit Green Business Certifications

How do you know if a green business certification you want to apply for is legitimate? Check our vetted list of 25 to begin your research.

Consumers are becoming more savvy about green businesses and products. So if you want to make a claim about the environmental impact of your company, you may want to look into some certifications to offer some proof about your business’s environmental claims. Here are 25 green business certifications for you to consider.

Green Business Certification List


LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification meant specifically for buildings. If your business location has a sustainable design or other features, you can earn points to achieve different levels of certification, including Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

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USDA Organic

If your business raises or processes food products, you can apply to a USDA-accredited certifying agent to get your products certified organic. You’ll need to provide information about your growing or production process. Then you can include the USDA Certified Organic seal on your products to appeal to customers that prefer to buy organic.

Green Business Bureau

GBB is an online green business certification program. To enroll, you need to complete an initial assessment, make a corporate sustainability vision statement, display an Environmental Compliance Poster, organize an office Green Team and conduct a kick-off meeting to review the GBB Assessment results and recommendations.

Safer Choice

From the Environmental Protection Agency, Safer Choice is a certification and labeling program that shows consumers which products perform well and are safe for human health and the environment. There are various qualifications and labels you can apply for, from fragrance-free products to safe chemical products.


The WELL certification focuses on building projects and their impact on health, wellness and the environment. There are a few different levels, and each has its own set of preconditions. And pricing varies by project as well.

Green C Certification

From the American Consumer Council, the Green C Certification program is for businesses that promote environmentally responsible practices in a variety of different industries. Businesses that operate or do business in the U.S. and have five or more employees are eligible to apply. You must also pay for a site visit, which starts at $2,500.

Energy Star

Energy Star is a fairly recognizable certification symbol for appliances, lightbulbs, electronics and other similar products. But you can also earn Energy Star certification for buildings or plants. The EPA has a free online tool that you can use to measure energy use and emissions. Scores are given out between 1 and 100, and those that get a score of over 75 are eligible to apply for certification.


EDGE, or Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies, is a certification aimed at new building projects. So for builders, developers or similar businesses, looking into this certification could be worthwhile. Pricing starts at $2,250 and goes up based on the square footage of the building.

The Institute for Green Business Certification

A Canadian organization, the Institute for Green Business Certification provides certification and promotion for businesses that meet environmental standards, including compliance with environmental regulations and implementation of measures to save energy. Cost varies by year.

Fair Trade USA Certified

Products that are Fair Trade Certified show customers that the company uses equitable trade practices at every level of the supply chain, ensuring fair treatment, prices and environmental impact. Certifications are available for a variety of different product categories, and quarterly fees vary based on the type of business.


PEER is a certification program made to measure and improve sustainable power system performance. PEER looks at different factors like efficiency, effectiveness and reliability. The certification can help facility owners ensure power quality to clients or potential customers.

Green Seal

Green Seal is a non-profit organization that certifies and promotes environmentally friendly products and services. The organization has different standards for different industries. You can find your specific application process on the organization’s website.


SITES is a certification system for landscapes, so it could apply to businesses that have a lot of land or outdoor space to work with. Certification is based on a points system and includes a few different levels. Registration starts at $2,500.

Forest Stewardship Council

For forest managers or companies that utilize forest resources, the Forest Stewardship Council offers certification to show which companies responsibly manage their forests and resources. FSC certification can lead to benefits like the ability to access new markets.


GRESB is a certification that assesses the sustainability and ethical impact of real assets, including real estate and infrastructure. The organization provides information about assets and real estate portfolios to investors who want to better understand the impact of their investments.


From the EPA, WasteWise is a certification recognizing businesses, governments and organizations that demonstrate how they’ve reduced waste. Those who join get benefits like discounted waste disposal costs and recognition in the WasteWise publication and on the EPA’s website.

Bay Area Green Business Program

For businesses in the Bay Area of California, the Bay Area Green Business Program partners with local environmental agencies to support businesses that minimize waste and otherwise shrink their carbon footprints. Businesses that meet government regulations and other qualifications can apply for the program online.


Parksmart is a certification that recognizes sustainable practices in parking structure management, programming, design and technology. So for parking management facilities or any business that utilizes parking garages, it could be a program worth looking into. The registration fee is $250 and certification fee is $6,500.


From the United States Department of Agriculture, the BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Initiative allows companies that make biobased products to show that they meet or exceed the minimum biobased content percentage in their industry. Standards vary by product type.


WaterSense is another EPA program applying to manufacturers, retailers, distributors and more. Partners get accesses to resources and tools specific to their needs. And WaterSense products are independently tested and certified to meet the EPA’s criteria for efficiency and performance.

Animal Welfare Approved

Animals and the environment often go hand in hand. So for businesses that also want to express that their products are animal friendly, there’s the Animal Welfare Approved certification. Farmers, food producers and more can apply for certification online.

Certified Humane

Certified Humane is another certification system for farmers and food producers that can show consumers which food items are humanely created. You must meet specific standards for the care and handling of farm animals in order to be considered.

Green America

Green America is a nationwide organization certifying companies that use business as a tool for positive social change and that employ environmentally responsible processes. Businesses must apply to earn the Green America seal, which comes in two different levels with different standards for business certification.

Green Plus

From the Redwoods Group Foundation, Green Plus offers a third-party certification program for green businesses. To get involved, you need to first take a diagnostic survey. And those that earn a specific score can enjoy benefits like access to branding and marketing strategies for green businesses.


For companies that manufacture and sell electronics, EPEAT is a program of the Green Electronics Council. There are different criteria that businesses must meet depending on what types of products they sell.

Green Stamp Photo via Shutterstock


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

5 Reactions
  1. As a state licensed mechanical engineer in the HVAC/Plumbing consulting industry for building systems, I take contention with the LEED being associated with a ‘legit’ sustainable (read: green) certification. If you truly want your building to be energy efficient, I recommend you look to ASHRAE 90.1-2016. Far too often have I seen good money chase bad decisions in “LEED Certified/Silver/Gold/Platinum” buildings.

    That’s not to say that LEED doesn’t have a laudable goal of a net zero/sustainable building, but it has poor execution even with multiple LEED consultants sitting in the room. Just because someone passed a LEED exam does not render them competent with energy use and consumption calculations. Often what the owner is paying for is an expensive tabulation of a private company’s checklist, at the expense of the design team’s time and effort. The mechanical engineer has to comply with your state’s energy codes and often is versed on applying methods above and beyond the code mandated minimum compliance – and in a maintainable manner!

    Save yourself that 20-30% premium on building design, tell the team you want to follow performance guidelines that exceed your state’s energy code (e.g. use 90.1-2016 in lieu of 90.1-2013…etc.) and put the extra money into VFDs, envelope insulation, system controls, economizers, electrical monitors and meters, and an energy model explained to you by your engineers so you can compare it to your actual results.

    Then again, sometimes it’s just easier to pay someone else a premium to do it for you. Best of luck, but don’t blindly accept USGBC’s LEED as The Standard on building energy design, there is a standard written by and for engineers who do this for a living.

    Fun fact – ASHRAE 90.1 is referenced within the LEED reference book.

    P.S. – Please don’t ever put plants on your roof. The maintenance nightmare is simply not worth the LEED point(s).

  2. I am seeing most of the USDA Organic marks on products maybe it is because I am interested in organic products.

  3. Please dont be disparaged by Paul’s statements. They do not reflect reality.
    Thank you for the overview. There are many valid certifications beyond LEED and you do a fine job opening the door to additional research. Each step toward energy efficiency, decreased water waste, improved occupant environment quality is a gain for us all, regardless of a plaque or certificate.

  4. Why is ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification overlooked? There are around 15,000 companies world-wide who have earned this certification?

    Another certification called “Plan BE” is an excellent business certification imho.

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