Save Money, Save the Planet: How to Become a Certified Green Business

By The Kalamuna Team,
Two people hold up green business certificates

Some experts believe world-wide Internet use puts out as much CO2 into the atmosphere as all the coal, gas and oil burned in Turkey or Poland1. Cloud computing alone is thought to be responsible for 2% of global CO2 emissions2. Kalamuna is a small business, but we recognize our role in all that energy use, and want to do something to counteract it. So we put measures in place to earn multiple certifications that help us lower our impact on the environment. Reaching toward these certifications might help you do the same, so read on to see how you can become a more green business.

Save the Planet

You can change little things around your office to decrease your environmental footprint, from how you sort your trash and the output of your faucets to the recycled content in your waste and the kind of towels you use the bathroom. Here are the ways some of these actions help the environment:

Use Less Electricity

Energy Star-approved appliances across the US save 41.9 billion kWh of electricity per year—enough to power 3,282,093 U.S. homes. For this reason we check our electronics against EPEAT guidelines when possible, and make sure that our appliances are Energy Star approved.

Use Less Water

Water is a precious resource, and using less of it means more for everyone in the future. Our water company, EBMUD, estimates that its “Water Smart Certified” customers saved nearly three million gallons of water in 2016—enough to supply the indoor water needs for 45 four-person families for one year. Since the program began in 2010, WaterSmart Business Certification recipients have saved over 100 million gallons per year, and we’re happy to be part of that.

Use More Efficient Lighting

Incandescent bulbs and fluorescent lights use more energy than LED lights. More energy use means an increase in global warming, land use formerly available to wildlife, and general waste and pollution3. By participating in CESC SmartLights program, we were prompted to replace old fluorescent lights with energy-saving LEDs. We even got a rebate to change out our lights.

Curb Pollution

When you buy new things, you support the production of new materials, which uses natural resources. Using recycled items supports companies that recycle and diverts money from going to companies that create new materials out of natural resources. Whichever green certification you seek, you will probably be advised to replace new materials with recycled ones. Our program prompted us to institute the use of recycled paper in kitchen and bathroom. Bottom line: when you use less, you pollute less.

Save Money

Water costs money, so if you use less, you save. Because we met our water company’s Water Smart Business Certification, our office is projected to save 18,000 gallons of water per year. This decrease is going to significantly lower our water bill, lowering overhead and increasing time we can spend helping clients.

And because we participated in the CESC SmartLights program and replaced the fluorescent lights with energy saving LEDs, we’re saving ~$29/month on our electricity bill. It may not seem like much, but over the long-term, combined with other measures, it matters. Here is a summary of our cost savings for a year:


Chart of savings from the Alameda County Green Business Certification Program

Email from the Alameda County Green Business Certification Program


Get Money

When you’re certified in CA, you can use the California Green Business Program’s logo and decal for use in your printed and digital promotional materials. This signals your values to potential clients, hires, partners and vendors, and attracts like-minded partners. Attracting these people to your organization will limit the time and money you spend qualifying such relationships, and help you make the relationships that will help your business flourish. If your municipality or state runs a similar program, and it probably does, they’ll likely offer similar materials.


How To Become Green Certified

We are in Oakland, California, but depending on where you are, you can apply through your municipality or a private certifier. Each will have a different process. We applied for certification through the California Green Business Program and Carolina Miranda from Cultivating Capital held our hand through the process. You may also find an advocate or another business owner who can consult with you. We’ve had inspections and feedback from the City of Oakland, EBMUD, and a private property inspection company to look at our general, waste, energy, water, pollution, and wastewater output. We ended up tackling a checklist of 58 measures divided up into 6 categories: general, waste, energy, water, pollution, and wastewater. The California Green Business Network is a great place to start looking into the process.

While Drupal shops digital agencies aren’t known to leave a heavy carbon footprint, we realized there were some small steps we could take to be a little bit more responsible and to live up to our values. Many people at Kalamuna care about climate change and it felt hypocritical and weird to table those concerns. In fact, many of our clients, such as GreenBiz and FairTrade USA, care about the health of the planet and work to reduce our impact upon it. We’re proud to work with them, and we want them to feel proud to work with us.

We do our small part. It’s not earth-shattering, but that’s exactly the point.




Kalamuna Team

Kalamuna partners with socially impactful institutions, associations, agencies, and governments to help them solve today’s most pressing problems. We do this by empowering them with the research, strategy, design, and technology that will transform their organizations so they can better serve the needs of their audiences and communities.