Program Information

What is the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification Program?

The Vancouver Island Green Business Certification program was developed by the Synergy Sustainability Institute (SSI) with the goal of catalyzing the green economy on Vancouver Island. It is the collective efforts of small businesses on Vancouver Island that will propel our region into the forefront of the international green economy movement.

The program currently focuses on delivering a high standard certification by having businesses complete an internal assessment followed by an on-site assessment by a verifier. Certification is currently available for retail, restaurant, spa/salon and office based businesses.

The program was pilots in 2013 with 18 businesses participating from across these sectors. The full program was launched in March 2014. By mid 2016, the program reached 100 certifications, and over 1000 new actions implemented by businesses.  As a part of this program we hope to see businesses participate and become environmental leaders in community while establishing a brand that is clearly recognizable with consumers.

What does my business need to do to be certified?

Certification is simple and easy! To become a Certified Green Business, participants must meet a certain number of points on the sector criteria for the retail, restaurant, spa/salon and office sectors. If you want to sign-up to become a certified green business simply email to find out more. 

Is there a fee for enrolling in the program?

There is an annual fee for businesses wanting to participate in the Program.  The fee is $250 for any business under 100 employees in size. 

How long will the Green Business recognition be valid?

The VI Green Business Certification will be valid for 12 months from when the business is certified. Businesses will need to re-certify annually  to ensure that they are continuing to meet the VIGBC program standards.

Does the Certification criteria ever change?

Yes. The certification criteria for all sectors changes slightly every two years. Typically, the checklists become slightly more difficult in order to continually raise the bar. This also allows the certification to keep ahead of regulations. For example, if all regional districts are banning compost from landfill, the point for composting organic waste would be removed, as it is now law. 

How will Green Businesses be promoted?

Green Businesses will be promoted through various avenues which will vary depending on the overall certification level achieved. Certification benefits for all businesses include the use of the certification logo in marketing materials online and in print, a window decal for display, certification announcement through social media, mentions in the VIGBC newsletter, and listing in the VIGBC Green Business Directory here. VIGBC is frequently at events and presenting to various groups to raise awareness of the brand to consumers and businesses. 

In addition, your business can apply to win an EcoStar Award to further celebrate your achievements. 

Does my business have to be entirely green before I sign up?

No, any business on Vancouver Island (in the retail, restaurant, spa/salon and office sectors) will be able to join the program no matter what stage they’re at in greening their operations.  The VIGBC program team will assist your business in implementing green practices and help you qualify for at least the Silver Business Certification level.  Interested businesses are simply asked to join the program and be committed to making eco-friendly changes in their operating practices. VIGBC program staff will help connect you to the needed resources and services to achieve certification.

I rent my office; can my business qualify for the Green Business program?

Yes, the vast majority of small businesses lease their office spaces, and the criteria was built to allow businesses without total control of their building to reach Green with efforts in other areas.  However, your business may with to work with the landlord or property manager to reach additional points and also determine your performance on certain areas on the checklist.

There are several branches of my business.  How should I proceed?

Each branch will need to undergo separate certifications for each location and to confirm the actions taking place at each site. In our experience, even branches owned by the same company can have very different scores on the checklist. This is also a great way to compare performance and encourage branches to learn from one another. 

How long does it take for a business to obtain Green Business Certification?

Businesses that participated in the pilot took 5 hours of staff time on average to complete the certification process.

Standards Development

How were the VI Green Business Certification standards developed?

The VI Green Business Certification was developed based on researching and studying international best practices from established programs in Portland, Maryland, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Durham, and Fort Collins. Based on the results of this research Green Certification standards were adapted based on the existing programs and services that are locally available to the business community. The certification standards were also guided by industry experts, academics, local governments and members of the business community.

We are interested in obtaining green business recognition, but our business sector is not listed as eligible.  How should we proceed?

The VIGBC is currently accepting applications from retail, restaurant, spa/salon and office based businesses.  If your business is operating in a sector that is not in this initial group, you can email and indicate your interest in the program and the sector that you would identify with.  We will maintain a waitlist of businesses in other sectors. When we see a high demand to bring on a certain business sector, we will place them at the top of the list once we open up that sector. If you are interested we will also get in touch with you to see if you are interested in helping provide insight into the development of standards for the sector.

Checklist Completion

We are finding it hard to implement some of the actions identified on the Certification checklist.  How should we proceed?

Please visit our resource page which will help connect you with the resources needed to implement the action within your business. If you require more information or guidance you should attend a VIGBC strategy session to connect with sustainability practitioners that are eager to help you achieve certification. To find out about the next strategy session email

We do not know what documentation is required for the items on the checklist that appear in bold.  Where do we find out what information we should be ready to provide for the site assessment?

The information that we require is described on the back side of the assessment checklist.  Although this documentation may vary from business to business we hope that you can collect all the necessary documentation in order to speed up the site assessment process. If you are still uncertain about what information we are asking you to provide please email

How do I prove that 10% of all goods sold are from local sources?

We want you to let us know how much of the products that you sell are made from local sources (from British Columbia). This includes food, beverage, and manufactured products that are from BC and how much of this product you sell on average annually.

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 6.0 lpf (liters per flush) 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.

How do I know if my facility has low flow faucets?

Most faucets will have a flow rating stamped onto them. It will be denoted as LpM (litres per Minute) or GpM (Gallons per Minute). If your faucet does not have a flow rating noted on it then you can test the flow by turning on the tap for 5 seconds at full blast into a large measuring cup, take the measurement (e.g. 50ml) and multiply by 12 to get the per minute flow rating (100ml*12= 1.2 Litres per Minute).

What is the preferable setting for my thermostat while the space is occupied and unoccupied?

The ideal temperature to set you thermostat at when the building is occupied is 21C (71F) When the space is unoccupied it should be set to 16C (61F). Your VIGBC Verifier can provide you with reminder stickers to place near your thermostats when they are on site.