Tag Archives: Greenwashing

What you should know before calling your project “LEED Certifiable”

There seems to be an increasing number of green building projects that are adopting the design and construction principles of the U.S. Green Building Council’s® LEED® green building program while opting to forgo pursuing actual certification.  From a purely environmental perspective, this is great news.  More buildings are being designed and built to have a reduced negative impact on the natural environment.  From a marketing standpoint, these project teams could be shooting themselves in the foot, or worse, violating trademark and branding policies set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). USGBC has clear and explicit guidelines for using the LEED acronym and the accompanying logos.  USGBC’s Trademark Policy and Branding Guidelines outline just how to word references to LEED registered and certified projects, sizing and color specifications for logo use, and proper acknowledgment of trademark ownership and permissions.  The violation that appears to be most common, however, is not related to projects that have achieved or hope to achieve LEED certification.  Many projects are being referred to as LEED Certifiable, LEED Compliant, LEED Qualified, LEED Equivalent, or some variation that attempts to indicate that the building was designed and constructed in accordance to the LEED green building program  Continue Reading »

Giving Your Green Message Credibility: Part 3

Part 3:  FTC Green Guides The Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, or “Green Guides”, are designed to help companies make sure their green messages are accurate and not deceptive.  The guides apply to any environmental claims in any form regarding products and packaging, as well as services.  This includes direct claims and indirect or implied claims achieved through logos, symbols, images, brand names, or any other means.  The Green Guides give specific guidance on several categories of environmental benefit claims, as well as some overarching general principles.  In short, environmental claims should never directly or indirectly misrepresent actual environmental benefits, claims should be substantiated with competent and reliable scientific evidence when appropriate, and claims more effectively avoid deception when accompanied with qualifications and/or disclosures.  Those guidelines can be applied to each of the major categories included in The Guides.  Further explanation of each category is summarized here; however, the full document includes several helpful examples for each type of claim. General Principles  Qualifications and Disclosures: Most environmental benefit claims should be accompanied by a qualification statement.  These should be made in plain language, sufficiently large type, and should be placed in close proximity to the  Continue Reading »

Giving Your Green Message Credibility: Part 1

Part 1:  Greenwashing Your company is doing great things do reduce environmental impact.  You are proud and ready to tell the world about your efforts and achievements.  That’s great!  It is important for businesses to share their success stories.  It lets customers know that they can feel good about using your products and services.  It also shows other businesses that it CAN be done, and done well.  But before you rush into blogging about your product changes, creating a green page on your website, and blasting press releases touting your green achievements – Stop.  Take a step back.  And carefully develop a message that will let your customers know exactly what it is you are doing and why they can trust your claims.  It is crucial that the content of your message be clear, honest, transparent, and in a word, credible.  This series is designed to help you build credibility into your green message. So first things first, let’s talk about what to avoid.  It all comes down to what is known as “greenwashing”.  Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers about a brand’s environmental practices.  Sometimes greenwashing is intentional.  Sometimes it is the result of a misinformed or partially  Continue Reading »