What environmental accreditation schemes are available?

Climate change has become a key issue for us all. With scientific reports being released every day, we now know more about the changes that are happening to the Earth’s systems.

What environmental accreditation schemes are available for my organisation?

Climate change has become a key issue for us all. With scientific reports being released every day, we now know more about the changes that are happening to the Earth’s system than ever before. We are also being warned about the projected risks of uncontrolled climate change. It has never been more important to be climate smart, both to protect your business, resources, and the quality of life for future generations.

The latest report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the USA has found that levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide continued to grow at historically high rates in 2022. Carbon dioxide is now 50% higher than pre-industrial levels. With 2022 being the 11th consecutive year it increased by more than 2 ppm, the highest sustained rate of increases in the 65 years since monitoring began. NOAA scientists state that carbon dioxide is ‘by far the most important contributor to climate change’ and conclude that a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels to date have been absorbed by the world’s oceans, contributing to ocean acidification, which may threaten some fisheries and aquaculture around the world.

So, what can you do to help?

Although the science may sound complicated and the challenge daunting there are a number of environmental accreditation schemes that can help you make your business more climate resilient, improve the reputation of your brand and give you a competitive advantage, especially in industries where sustainability and environmental responsibility are becoming increasingly important to consumers.

Achieving an environmental accreditation can require a significant investment of time, resources, and effort, which is why it is important to ensure that you invest your efforts in a recognised scheme that supports the goals that you have for your business and enables you to continually improve your environmental performance over the long term.

Which accreditation scheme should I choose?

There are several environmental accreditation schemes available for small businesses. These are some of the better recognised ones:

  1. ISO 14001: This is an international standard for environmental management systems. It provides a framework for businesses to identify and control their environmental impact and it is recognised globally.
  2. Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI): GBCI offers several accreditation schemes, including the LEED certification for green building design and construction, TRUE certification for zero waste, and EDGE certification for sustainable buildings.
  3. The Carbon Trust Standard: This accreditation scheme helps businesses to measure, manage, and reduce their carbon emissions. It is a recognised certification in the UK and internationally.
  4. The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS): EMAS is a voluntary scheme that enables businesses to assess, manage, and improve their environmental performance. It is recognised in the European Union and is available to businesses of all sizes.
  5. Net Zero Cornwall: NZC is an initiative available for businesses in Cornwall supporting their efforts to achieve net zero carbon emissions. The NZC accreditation is a recognition scheme that acknowledges businesses and organisations in  Cornwall that have demonstrated their commitment to record their carbon emissions accurately and mitigating them accurately in line with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
  6. B Corp certification: This is administered by the non-profit organization B Lab, which assesses a company's performance across five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. To become a certified B Corp, a company must meet a minimum score on the B Impact Assessment, which is a rigorous evaluation of the company's social and environmental impact.

So, there are a number of options open to businesses that want to reduce their environmental impact in a way that can be quantified, reported and proven. Each scheme has its own requirements and benefits. Its important to choose a scheme that is the right fit for you and your business.

Carbon Sense have been helping many small to medium size organisations in Cornwall and throughout the UK to calculate their carbon footprint and take manageable steps to reduce their carbon emissions in line with Net Zero targets.

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