The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) utilizes an easy-to-use checklist covering the full spectrum of sustainability practices for the following types of business:
Office-based businesses – This includes professional service companies, non-profit organizations and retail stores. The application checklist can be used by both tenants that lease their space and businesses that own their own buildings. Home-based businesses do not qualify for this program. Certification is by individual location. This could include an individual facility or a business park or campus with multiple buildings. However, entities with more than one location in the County need to pursue certification for each location. Onsite verification is required. Recertification occurs every three years and businesses must demonstrate continuous improvement.
Landscaping businesses -- To be certified, a business must meet the applicable checklist requirements for all of the services it provides. The four service areas include: Garden Centers Design, Installation, and Maintenance. Landscapers can be home-based businesses, since most of the actions focus on operations and practices at work sites. Onsite verification entails a review of 2-3 worksites. Recertification occurs every three years.
DEP Certification Frequently Asked Questions
DEP Office Application
Are organizations like religious institutions and non-profit organizations eligible for Office/Retail certification?
Yes, most institutions are eligible for office/retail certification assuming their operations are similar to an office environment.
Where can we get training assistance to prepare us for certification?
Currently, DEP provides free technical assistance and strategic advice for up to four hours to businesses interested in pursuing certification. We will come to your office and meet with you and your "green team" members to address specific issues related to your application. Ideally, this would occur once you have submerged yourself in the application and have clear and specific needs. Contact the Green Business Certification Program Manager at MCGreenBiz@montgomerycountymd.gov to learn about other green business training and educational opportunities that might be available.
We are a business that leases space. Can we get credit for actions the property manager/owner is taking independent of our prodding?
Yes, you made the decision to be a tenant at your location, so take credit for the good things your property manager/owner is doing. Encourage and help them to make more environmentally beneficial improvements and get more credit on your application!
Does certification cover all aspects of, and the environmental impacts from, a business’ operations?
No. The scope of certification is limited to the areas covered by the applicable checklist and to applicable locations and/or activities conducted in Montgomery County. For example, a business that has an office in Montgomery County but does manufacturing outside the County could certify its Montgomery County office through DEP (as opposed to certification for the company as a whole).
Similarly, a business’ environmental impacts might extend beyond its office operations. For example, a consulting firm that has sustainable office operations (related to paper use, energy consumption, supplies, etc.) may be advising clients to take actions or pursue strategies with little or no consideration for the environment.
DEP recognizes the limitations of this approach. The environmental impacts associated with office operations could be nominal relative to its impacts resulting from its manufacturing or its clients’ actions. DEP thus encourages businesses with operations that transcend the office to pursue an additional certification standard that is more comprehensive and broader in scope.
DEP Landscape Application
We provide multiple landscaping services. Can we pursue certification for just one service area?
No – to be certified, a business must meet the applicable checklist requirements for ALL the services it provides from among the following areas:
- Garden Center
How is Green Landscape Business Certification different from certification through the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™)?
SITES certifies individual sites while the Green Landscape Business Certification focuses on business operations as a whole, including garden centers and worksites designed, installed and/or maintained by those businesses.
How do I determine what pull down response to select when it’s not clear-cut?
Yes – Select Yes for actions you are taking. You may also select Yes for not taking an action when the inaction or alternative action is more beneficial than the action itself. For example, if you are opposed to the application of pesticides and use benign, alternative methods of control, you can check Yes for all actions related to pesticide application.
No – Select No if you are not implementing an action that can reasonably be expected as part of the services you offer. For example, if you provide Installation services but do not offer conservation landscaping, then select No.
n/a – This is used when an action, usually fairly specialized, is outside the scope of your operations. For example, if you provide Installation services but do not build green roofs or decks then the answer to the actions related to these items would be n/a.