Frequently Asked Questions
Questions for Building Tenants:
I am tenant of a building and building manager is responsible for the lighting and toilets as well as the cleaning contract. Can I mark these GB practices as Not Applicable, since I do not pay utility bills and have no control over the space?
Steps in the Process and What to Expect:
Office Best Management Practices:
What is the City of Los Angeles Green Business Certification Program?
The Los Angeles Certified Green Business Certification Program has been developed by the City’s Bureau of Sanitation in partnership with other City Departments and independent environmental organizations. The Program has three components: The Green Lodging Program; The Green Arts Program; and The Green Business Program. These three parts of the Los Angeles Certified Green Business Programs allow businesses to apply to be certified as “green” through a City certification process. [top]
How is the Los Angeles Green Business Certification Program related to other green business programs in California?
Program guidelines are based on materials originally developed for use in the Bay Area Green Business Program and have been updated to reflect local conditions. In addition, the City of Los Angeles Green Business Certification Programs is part of the State of California Green Business Program; therefore, businesses that have been certified are entered in the state’s database of green businesses in the California Green Business Program. [top]
What does my business need to do to be certified?
To become a Certified Green Business, participants must meet program standards for conserving resources, preventing pollution and minimizing waste and be in compliance with all environmental regulations. [top]
Is there a fee for enrolling in the Program?
Depends on which certification program is being applied to.
There is no fee for businesses for enrolling in the Los Angeles Green Business Program.
The Los Angeles Green Arts Program charges a nominal fee; however, the City has identified grants and other funding mechanisms, and is currently able to subsidize the businesses that apply for certification.
The Los Angeles Green Lodging Program charges a fee to applicants for the Green Seal’s annual certification audit (at a discounted rate). [top]
How long are the Green Business recognition certifications valid?
The Green Business and Green Arts Certificates are valid for three years. However, at the end of the first year and second year of certification, businesses are required to apply for recertification. The Green Lodging Certificate will need to be renewed annually. [top]
How are Green Businesses promoted?
Green Businesses are promoted through the Los Angeles Green Business Programs (LAGBP) website. Advertisements and related articles may be placed as well. Certified green businesses can use the LAGBP logo in their own marketing and advertisements. In addition, the City of Los Angeles Green Business Certification Program is part of the State of California Green Business Program; therefore, businesses that have been certified are entered in the database of green businesses in the California Green Business Program. [top]
Does my business have to be entirely green before I sign up?
No, any business in Los Angeles (in the eligible sectors) is able to join the program, no matter what stage they’re at in greening their operations. The program team will assist your business in implementing all the required practices and help you qualify for the Certificate. Interested businesses are asked to simply join the program with a commitment to make eco-friendly changes to operating practices. [top]
- Cost savings – Green Businesses are required to implement energy & water conservation and waste reduction practices that lead to cost savings in energy, water and waste disposal costs.
- Marketing Benefits –The San Francisco Green Business Program completed a survey of Green Businesses in 2006, 42% of the businesses in the program reported an increase in customers since their GB recognition.
- Leadership in community – Above all, Los Angeles businesses and consumers are very eco-conscious and are constantly demanding green products and services. [top]
I rent my office; can my business qualify for the Green Business program?
Yes, in Los Angeles, almost all recognized businesses lease their office spaces. Your business may need to work with the property manager to accurately respond to checklist questions pertaining to fixtures in your facility as well as cleaning and maintenance schedules and practices. If we determine that your business needs to upgrade fixtures in order to qualify for the recognition, your business will need to coordinate improvements or upgrades with your landlord. [top]
My business is planning on moving soon. If we get certified in our current location, will the certification remain current when we move?
No. LAGBP certification becomes invalid with a change in location. Many of the green business practices included in the checklists pertain to fixtures and maintenance-related operations that differ from location to location. Therefore, only the sites at which onsite assessments are conducted by staff qualify for CGBP recognition. Businesses that move will need to notify the Green Business Program of a change in location and resubmit their application. [top]
You only need to submit one application form and indicate that you are enrolling several branches. However, each branch will need to submit separate checklists for the branch (with the exception of home offices) and implement the minimum number of Green Business practices at each individual location. [top]
Exemptions: Do ALL these Measures Apply to Me?
It depends on the size and type of your business. Businesses are expected to implement all measures marked as REQUIRED as well as minimum additional measures in every section. Bureau of Sanitation staff can assist in the implementation of these measures. [top]
Green Business standards were first developed by a team Municipal Green Business Program Coordinators from the California Green Business Network, with input from industry experts, utility companies, pollution prevention professionals, city inspectors and trade associations. In Los Angeles, the checklistshave been further revised to incorporate local ordinances and environmental services available to businesses in LA. [top]
I am interested in obtaining green business recognition, but my business sector is not listed as an eligible sector. How should I proceed?
The LAGBP was begun by accepting applications from limited business sectors, including office and retail businesses, automotive repair shops, restaurants, hotels, arts and cultural facilities. If your business is operating in a sector that is not in this initial group, you can submit an online form indicating your interest in the program. We will maintain a waitlist of businesses in other sectors. If we see a high demand from a certain business sector, we will place them at the top of the list for developing standards and opening the program up to that sector. [top]
Some of the GB practices listed on my checklist are not applicable to me and I am finding it hard to implement the minimum required measures. How should I proceed?
Please implement all Green Business practices that are applicable to your business. Businesses can also implement innovative Green Business practices that are not listed on the checklist and request credit for these practices by listing them under “Other” practices measured. If you are still unable to implement minimum measures on the checklist, the LAGBP will recommend/require alternative practices for your business when conducting the onsite assessments. [top]
I do not meet all the required standards, does that mean I cannot get recognized?
It depends. Certain measures are marked with an [R] to indicate required practices and must be implemented by every business. If you are not currently implementing these practices or are having trouble implementing minimum measures in a certain section, the LAGBP team may be able to assist you. Please note that there are often rebates available for efficiency upgrades and we will work with you to identify the rebates you qualify for. [top]
Questions for Building Tenants
I am a tenant of a building and my landlord is responsible for the lighting and toilets as well as the cleaning contract. Can I mark these GB practices as Not Applicable, since I do not pay utility bills and have no control over the space?
No, these measures cannot be marked as Not Applicable. Almost all recognized businesses are tenants and lease their office spaces. Your business will need to work with the landlord or property manager to accurately respond to checklist questions pertaining to fixtures in your facility as well as cleaning and maintenance schedules and practices. If we determine that your business needs to upgrade fixtures in order to qualify for the certificate, you will need to coordinate improvements or upgrades with your landlord. Please note that there are rebates for many efficiency upgrades and we will work with you to identify the rebates so you can bring them to the attention of the owner or property manager. [top]
I am a tenant; the kitchen and bathrooms are not in my office and are shared with other tenants, is it necessary for these spaces to meet the requirements?
Yes. The restrooms and kitchen that are used by your employees and/or customers are considered a part of your facility. Therefore, Green Business practices are applicable to these areas as well. [top]
What is preliminary compliance verification? Does it apply to all businesses?
A preliminary compliance verification ensures that your business has been and is currently in compliance with applicable environmental regulations (Air Quality Regulations, Fire Code, Health Code and Wastewater/Storm Water Discharge Requirements). This step is only applicable to business sectors that are required to hold compliance permits for certain equipment or their operations. For instance, hotels, restaurants, dental practices, dry cleaners, printers and auto repair shops need permits to store hazardous materials. [top]
If my business is found to be out of compliance with an environmental regulation that I did not know was applicable to my business, will I be subject to fines?
Our intent is to help your business be in compliance and operate as a Green Business, not to subject you to fines. If, through the assessment process, we find that your business is out of compliance with certain environmental regulations, we can help your business comply, either directly or through a referral. Once your business achieves environmental compliance, we can revisit your application. If your business falls out of compliance after receiving the Green Business Certificate, your certification will be revoked. [top]
Steps in the Process and What to Expect
- Submission of Enrollment Form by business applicant
- Completion of Preliminary Compliance Verification by the Green Business Program staff
- Submission of Completed Checklist by business applicant
- A Phone Consultation by the Green Business Program staff
- An Initial Site Assessment by the Green Business Program staff
- Compliance and Conservation Assessments by the Green Business Program staff [top]
If you are the only employee of a home based business, you are exempt from signing up for commuter benefits. If your business is able to demonstrate that all of your employees are using alternative transportation, such as biking or walking, you will be exempt from signing up for commuter benefits. The determination is made on a case-by-case basis by staff. [top]
What is an Environmental Policy Statement? What should I include? Do all employees have to agree to follow it?
An Environmental Policy Statement addresses the environmental or sustainability policy of your business and lists some environmental principles and practices that you implement in your office. This policy is created to express your commitment to being a green business and it ensures that green business practices continue to be implemented even as people change positions or leave.
Written policies are a way to reiterate employee and company practices and ensure that they will be in place when the business goes through the Green Business Program recertification process in three years. Generally, employee practices are the more difficult measures to verify on the checklist. The policies are one way we can verify these practices and have documentation. Upon adoption of the environmental policy, we ask that you email a copy (that includes a signature of a responsible official on letterhead) of the policy to us. You can send this policy to your staff via email as a friendly reminder every 3-4 months, or add it to your employee handbooks. We find that employees sometimes need reminders, and an official written document also helps educate new employees. [top]
I am tenant of a building; will I be exempt from the installation of low flow toilets or from energy efficient lighting?
No. The majority of the businesses we work with are small- and medium-size businesses that are tenants in their buildings, so we understand and have experience with businesses that have less control over their facilities. Installing energy efficient lighting and low-flow toilets may seem like a large task, however, we do identify rebate opportunities and provide free technical assistance so we believe this is a reasonable requirement. In fact, all of our Green Business have been able to switch their toilets and lighting, even as tenants. [top]
How do I know if my facility has low flow toilets?
Toilets made after 1994 will have a stamp on the upper rear of the bowl. You might also find a date impressed in the ceramic tank or a 1.6 gpf stamp from the manufacturer on the inside rear of the tank. If the stamp is not present, your toilet is not a low flow toilet.
Are there any retrofits that I can use to regulate the flow of the current toilet instead of installing new ones?
No. Although flush valves (the mechanism that you press down to flush the toilet) can be changed out to reduce the flush volumes, minimum flush volume after retrofit that can be achieved from a pre-1994 toilet is 2.5 gpf. In order to qualify for Green Business recognition, businesses must install low flow toilets (1.6 gpf) or high efficiency toilets (1.28 gpf). A flush valve retrofit will not help you qualify. [top]
I do not have control of the HVAC maintenance. Does this section still apply to me?
If you are a tenant in a multi-tenant building, the building manager is likely to have chosen the systems and maintains them, in which case you as tenants would be responsible only for the set points on your thermostats. However, if you own the building, you would be expected to answer all questions regarding HVAC equipment and maintenance. These are the points most often skipped in the checklist. Depending on your business’ situation in the building (tenant, owner, sub-letter, etc.) you will have zero to complete control over the heating and cooling systems. [top]
I am tenant in a building, will I be exempt from the installation of the T-8’s/T-5’s and LED exit signs?
No. All businesses enrolled in the program are required to use energy efficient lighting such as T-8s and CFLs. Exit signs with CFLs are acceptable, but LED exit signs are preferable. [top]
Office Best Management Practices
Can we be exempted if the printers leased by our office are not set up to print double-sided, or if we need to print single-sided for the majority of our printing?
Printing double-sided as a default is a required practice for all Green Businesses. We will provide onsite assistance to ensure that this measure is implemented. If your business does minimal printing or does not have printers capable of double-sided printing, exceptions may be granted, but not necessarily so. [top]
All my paper products (copy paper, letterhead, envelopes, etc.) are not up to the Green Business standards. How should I proceed?
All paper products in use by an enrolled business, including marketing materials, must meet the required Green Business standards listed on the checklist. Businesses are encouraged to use 100% post-consumer recycled content paper, although 30% is the minimum. [top]
My building provides paper toilet and paper towels for my office. Should I assume that this requirement is not applicable?
Janitorial papers such as toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, and facial tissues must be made from a minimum of recycled content. Often a building’s janitorial paper is supplied by the property manager. In such cases please provide a letter or email that you have sent to your property manager requesting that they use products that meet green business standards. Please visit the resource guides for information on how and where to obtain these products. [top]
I have permanent kitchenware in my office, but we have disposable/compostable ware for special occasions. Is this allowed?
We ask businesses to use permanent kitchenware as much as possible. You can also request that your caterer only use reusable kitchenware. [top]
I do not store chemicals in my space; do measures on chemical storage apply?
No. If you do not store chemicals, these measures do not apply. Please let us know when we conduct your phone consultation. [top]
I work in an office; I do not have a pest problem and do not contract with a pest control operator. Am I correct in assuming that this measure is not applicable to my business?
Most buildings have a Pest Control Operator (PCO) on contract. We ask that you contact your property manager to obtain the name of your Pest Control Operator. [top]
What is a cleaning product inventory? What it is a Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?
All manufacturers are required to supply or make available an MSDS for any product or chemical they produce that is hazardous, or requires special handling or disposal. Many manufacturers also send or make available an MSDS for every product or chemical they produce, even those that are not at all hazardous. An MSDS lists what a product is made of, in what way the product is hazardous (if it is hazardous), how to safely work with the product, and how to safely dispose of the product.
All businesses must submit an inventory of cleaning products (floor cleaners, bathroom/toilet cleaners, window/glass cleaners, carpet spotters, etc.) in use at their facility. A cleaning product inventory typically includes the manufacturer name, the product name & application as well as the ingredients. For example – Clorox, bleach for disinfecting countertops, Sodium Hypochlorite. This inventory can be obtained in two ways –
- All buildings have contracts with janitorial service companies and can ask the janitorial companies to provide inventories and MSDSs. This inventory should be submitted before the initial site assessment, so that the products can be cross-verified with the products found onsite during the walk-through.
- The inventory can be developed by recording information on the product label and MSDS (not preferred, extremely time-consuming). Look to see if the products you use are listed on Green Seal OR Responsible Purchasing Network websites. All listed products are considered low toxic alternatives and meet LAGBP criteria. For products not listed, you can choose to identify alternatives, and present evidence of their low toxicity.
I am a tenant and do not have control over the cleaning products used by the janitorial service company. Will I be exempt from providing the inventory of cleaning products?
No. The majority of the businesses we work with are small- and medium-size businesses that are tenants in their buildings, so we understand/have experience with businesses that have less control over their facilities. However, there are several measures that we require all of our businesses to complete, even if they are tenants. These are things such as energy efficient lighting, low-flow toilets and use of low-toxic cleaning products. All of our Green Businesses have been able to provide cleaning product inventories, even as tenants. You should be able to obtain these from your property management company. [top]
Our building already contracts with a green janitorial service provider; do I still need to submit the MSDS’s?
Yes. You can obtain the inventory from your janitorial service, we will use the inventory to verify that the products in use are indeed low-toxic alternatives. [top]
How long do I have to use up a bottle of non-green cleaning products? When do I need to show you a receipt for green cleaning materials?
There is no timeline for using the old chemicals. We usually ask that you show us a purchase order or invoice listing the "green products" you will use in the future. We may conduct a follow-up walkthrough to verify the use of new products. The timeline also depends on toxicity of the chemicals and how frequently they are used.
We usually ask that all products used frequently be switched out sooner than later. If your business sources with a janitorial product supply company, you can return chemicals to your supplier without using them up and request new, greener products. [top]
If I have unused bottles of chemicals I can't return, do I have to get rid of them?
Yes, all unused chemicals must be disposed of properly in order to pass the toxics portion of the checklist. [top]
How many non-green products am I allowed to keep?
It depends on the types of products, quantities of products and frequency of use. Generally, most businesses use a toilet cleaner, floor cleaner and window cleaner on a regular basis. So we ask that you switch these out first. Everything else (carpet spotter, metal or wood polish, etc.) tends to be used less often. We allow businesses to use up these less frequently-used products and purchase greener alternatives in the future. [top]