Gary Nickell believed the company he owns and founded, Scott’s Roofing, on the B-Impact Assessment, the rigorous test of 200 questions about a company’s impact on its employees, customers, society and society the environment would do well. Companies that score at least 80 on the assessment can become Certified B Corporations – companies that achieve high, independently verified standards of social, environmental, and legal accountability to balance profit with achievement of a larger goal.
Scott’s Roofing, which Nickell founded in Lafayette in 2011, tried to work sustainably before Nickell did in December 2019. It even donated 1 percent of its sales to non-profit organizations in the environmental sector. But when Nickell took the test, Scott’s Roofing scored a 48.
“That was a little drained,” said Nickell. “But those are the high standards they have. You can’t just fill out an application, write a check, and become a member. It’s not just about sustainability. This is how you treat your employees. It depends on your supply chain what type of suppliers you use. “
In the year following the evaluation, Nickell and his team at Scott’s Roofing committed to meeting the standards required to become a B Corp – something they eventually achieved in December 2020 and made Scott’s Roofing one of the latest B Corps in Boulder County. Area, and the only roofer in the country to double-check that it is really land and not county in order to get certification.
Scott’s Roofing’s JR Baird inspects a roof in Denver. Roofing company Lafayette recently received B Corporation certification, making it the only roofing company in the country with this certification. (Courtesy Scott’s Roofing)
There are 3,821 B Corps in 74 countries. 54 of them are in the Boulder area: 42 in Boulder, four in Broomfield, four in Lafayette, three in Louisville, and one in Lyon, according to B Lab, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that manages the B Corp network. The rest of Colorado has 49 B Corps combined. The B Corps was founded in 2006 to positively influence and be held accountable for for-profit companies in their communities.
“People really care about choosing brands and buying from companies that do no harm, that do the right things,” said Kim Coupounas, B Lab global ambassador and longtime Boulder entrepreneur. “To become a B Corp, you have to separate your brand and company from the pretenders who do window dressing when it comes to sustainability.”
Ten percent of all B-Corps are randomly audited each year, and each B-Corps must recertify every three years. There are also no tax benefits to becoming a B Corp. to become.
“They want people who financially don’t,” Nickell said. “You want people who are motivated by completely different things.”
The B impact assessment is the first step for a company wishing to become a B company. Many aspects of corporate governance are examined in his questions:
- Governance: “Does the company have a formal process to share financial information (other than salary information) with its full-time employees?”
- Employees: “What percentage of the full-time employees were compensated for further training opportunities in the last financial year?”
- Environmental practices: “What percentage of the energy consumed comes from on-site renewable energy generation?”
The rating is free for any company that wants to rate itself. more than 50,000 companies have taken it. Once a company has achieved the required 80 assessment points to qualify for B Corp certification, B Lab will review the company’s responses. After completing the review, the company can certify.
“Certification is a significant endeavor,” said Brian Lichtenheld, a consultant at BSW Wealth Partners Inc., a Boulder-based wealth management firm that was certified as a B Corp in 2017. The result is absolutely worth it. “
The cellar operator Zack Lawrence cleans and disinfects parts of the brewery’s dry hop tank at Upslope Brewing in Boulder on Tuesday. (Timothy Hurst / employee photographer)
Some companies can raise the bar almost immediately. Boulder’s Upslope Brewing Co. began formalizing its own sustainability program in 2016, said Lizzy Waters, the brewery’s sustainability coordinator. The process included measuring resource consumption and comparing energy efficiency with other breweries of the same size. It also included the B impact assessment.
“We heard it was really hard, but we thought it would give us a good picture of where we are,” said Waters. “It gave us a step-by-step roadmap to improve our energy efficiency. We were able to certify pretty much straight away. “
Upslope carried out the assessment at the end of 2017 and certified it in April 2018.
Change sometimes necessary
In other cases, the certification will require some changes. Some of the questions in the assessment deal with the content of a company’s employee handbook. Scott’s Roofing didn’t even have an employee manual when it conducted the assessment, Nickell said. As the company worked to improve in this area, other practices supported its quest for certification. For example, an employee owned supplier is used. Shingles are also used, which recovers carbon, which is equivalent to the effect of planting two trees per year per roof.
“It’s more expensive, but we think it’s the right thing,” said Nickell.
Quality controller Shaye Holdaway is doing a yeast cell count and viability test on various beers and seltzer at Upslope Brewing in Boulder on Tuesday. (Timothy Hurst / employee photographer)
After Scott’s Roofing is certified, the company has three years to complete the process again with more stringent standards. Upslope has to be recertified at the end of the month – fitting, since March is the month of the B Corp. After Waters certified so quickly for the first time, the brewery had a lot to improve for that rating.
Efforts included more aggressive goals to reduce energy consumption, formalizing Upslope’s charitable giving policy, and improving education and internal communications, Waters said.
“The great value is accountability,” said Waters. “It can be very easy to delve into things and postpone sustainability projects. When we have external deadlines from B Lab that is really helpful. “
BSW Wealth Partners had to recertify in 2020, and the company, which helps its clients create unique, targeted charitable fundraising and is owned by employees, increased its B-Impact Assessment by 50 points.
“We were very motivated to have an authentic impact and put various operational guidelines into practice that would enable us to increase our positive impact,” said Lichtenheld. As the number of B corps continues to grow worldwide, the Boulder area, home to more B corps than the rest of the state combined, should remain a hub.
“This is a natural incubator for business-oriented companies,” said Coupounas. “It has the right ingredients for an innovation and mission-oriented ecosystem. There are many elements that make Boulder County unique: mountains, weather, lifestyle, entrepreneurs, MBAs, business leaders. There is a truly coordinated city council, a chamber of commerce and government actors, from our state representatives to our governor. All of these different sectors have a point of view on what it means to contribute to a healthy county economy. You understand the critical role that enterprise-oriented companies play. “
And the local B-Corps plays that role in big and small ways. For a year now, Nickell has been campaigning with Lafayette City Council to use Grade 4 impact resistant shingles, which are more durable, sustainable and less wasteful than other types. This change will go into effect later this month.
“You are trying to harness your business as a force for good in the community you live in and the planet we all live on,” Nickell said. “I have four grandchildren. I don’t want them to ask me in 10 years why I haven’t done anything. “
Packaging manager Dave Burley is closely watching a canning machine that was recently repaired to make sure it was working properly at Upslope Brewing in Boulder on Tuesday. (Timothy Hurst / employee photographer)