Introducing 513 Green!

Fia Turczynewycz
Jun 03, 2020
A conservationist in Cincinnati, Ohio recently launched a new certification program that will support and incentivize local businesses to be more sustainable in their operations. In doing so, businesses can lower their carbon footprint, reduce costs, and increase credibility and support from their community. It is no secret that businesses have turned towards a triple bottom line that includes people, profit, and PLANET, guiding their processes and policies. 

Mary Cropenbaker is the Business Specialist for Hamilton County Recycling & Solid Waste District. One of her roles is providing waste reduction assistance to local businesses. Throughout her work, she noticed there was a lack of understanding from businesses on why they should focus waste reduction as a whole, not just recycling. A workplace certification is a good way to incentivize and educate about waste reduction. On the other hand, there are small businesses that she has worked with that have active and impactful sustainability programs but they can’t afford third party certification. A free program can celebrate and highlight the active steps these businesses are taking towards lessening their carbon footprint. Many of the employees that reach out for assistance are either on newly formed green teams or tenants of office buildings. A certification focused on sustainable behaviors that green teams could use as a framework for building successful sustainability programs and would be attainable by office tenants would be a good resource. All of these reasons motivated Mary to launch 513 Green - a free, workplace certification program focused on sustainable operations.

The process for becoming a certified business is meant to be simple. Basically, visit and fill out the checklist. Then email the completed checklist to the 513 Green representative, and set up time for a verification audit that should only take about an hour. The verifications are normally on-site walkthroughs but have been successfully completed over the phone during the stay at home order.

One of the main points Mary emphasizes is the importance of having established sustainability goals and a dedicated green team. It can be easy for sustainability programs to fall by the wayside without realistic goals to work towards and enthusiastic champions educating and pushing forward new initiatives. Another important aspect considered is communication, which is why there is a point for communication in each category on the checklist. Employees are more engaged in sustainability programs when they know what they’re working towards and the progress being made. Changing behavior isn’t always easy; so it’s important to communicate and celebrate wins when they happen!

Becoming a “green” certified workplace has many benefits. Implementing sustainable practices in the office can lead to cost savings related to improved operational efficiency, increased employee engagement, an enhanced brand image, and increased visibility to green-conscious consumers. This certification in particular, focuses on engaging employees in sustainable behaviors. This focus of combining sustainability initiatives and employee behavior creates a culture of sustainability that has positive impacts for the employers, employees, and the communities in which they live.

Businesses that are working towards certification have access to free technical assistance from a 513 Green advisor as well as guidance documents, templates, and case studies to assist them in understanding how to achieve each metric in a way that is best for their business.

A major influence in the creation of the 513 Green Workplace Certification is the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden® – the Greenest Zoo in America and the first recipient of the 513 Green Workplace Certification! The Zoo’s cultivated best practices of engaging employees in sustainability and innovative sustainability initiatives informed many of the metrics included in the certification. In the 6 months that 513 Green began, there have been a wide range of types of businesses that have become certified or are in the process of certification. These organizations include a small Pilates studio, a sustainable fashion manufacturer, a brewery, and a large private corporation. This goes to show that the certification metrics can be useful and implemented in all different sizes and types of organizations! 

Interested in certifying your workplace? Visit to get started. Guide Us Green is proud that its founding region continues to strive for strong sustainable communities and businesses. 


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