1. Introduction
Q: What is the Green Masters Program?

2. Who is Eligible?
Q: For whom is the program designed?
Q: Why focus on businesses?
Q: Will certain sectors of business be targeted?
Q: Who are the early adopters?
Q: Where are participants located? 
Q: If I am not a Wisconsin company can I still join?
Q: Is the Green Masters Program facility-specific, or can it apply to all facilities of a business in Wisconsin?

3. Participation and Fees
Q: How much does it cost to join?
Q: What are the levels of participation in the Green Masters Program?
Q: What kind of questions are asked in the survey? 
Q: How many times can I fill out the survey?
Q: How long does my participation in the Green Masters Program last?
Q: Is there any support available for Green Masters companies?
Q: What are some of the benefits of joining?

4. Recognition
Q: How does recognition work?
Q: Will this be communicated statewide?
Q: Will this be nationally or internationally recognized?
Q: Where will Green Masters Program companies be identified?
Q: Can my company use the Green Masters Program logo?

5. The Green Masters Program and Other Sustainability Initiatives
Q: My company is already doing a lot from a sustainability perspective, is it worth joining?
Q: What if I am already participating in another program?
Q: Is there a ‘business case’ for sustainability?


 1. Introduction

Q: What is the Green Masters Program?
A: The Green Masters Program is a recognition and assessment program for Wisconsin businesses interested in improving and being recognized for their sustainability initiatives. The objective of the Green Masters Program is to provide companies with a benchmark for themselves and the ability to compare their sustainability performance to others. In addition, we seek to recognize businesses and help them to distinguish themselves from their peers.

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2. Who is Eligible?

Q: For whom is the program designed?
A: The Green Masters Program targets businesses of all sizes and sectors from anywhere in the state. The eligibility criteria are based on identifying actions in nine (9) key sustainability areas: energy, carbon and other emissions, water, waste and materials management, transportation, supply chain, community and educational outreach, workforce, and governance.

Q: Why focus on businesses?
A: Leadership in the sustainability area largely rests in the private sector. The Green Masters Program broadens and accelerates the adoption of sustainability practices by recognizing and supporting those businesses that are sustainability leaders.

Q: Will certain sectors of business be targeted?
A: No, businesses from any sector of the business world are encouraged to consider the Green Masters Program

Q: Where are participants located?Map
A: Businesses from across the state are participating in the Green Masters Program. Though the majority of our participants are from the eastern part of the state, we have businesses from the south, the west and the north that are participating in the program.

Q: If I am not a Wisconsin company can I still join?
A: No. The Green Masters Program is designed for companies in the state of Wisconsin. However, if you are incorporated elsewhere, but have facilities in Wisconsin, you may apply. See the question below for more information.

Q: Is the Green Masters Program facility-specific, or can it apply to all facilities of a business in Wisconsin?
A: This is a choice each company makes for itself. The questionnaire can be facility-specific or corporate-wide. However, if corporate-wide, please do not claim credit for actions at non-Wisconsin facilities.

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3. Participation and Fees

Q: Are there any charges for the Green Masters Program?
A: The program is always free for first time applicants as we believe the value of the program will be obvious once companies participate.  In 2016, we will introduce a cost for the program for any company that waits until late in the year to apply.  To avoid this cost, any company that has previously participated in the program simply needs to apply before September 1st.After September 1st and through October 1st, companies will pay a $100 application fee. Between October 1st and October 31st, companies will pay a $250 application fee.

To summarize:
February 15th – August 31st: Free
September 1st – October 1st: $100
October 2nd – October 31st: $250

Q: Can a company apply before the September 1st deadline and then update their application before the program closes on October 31st?
A: Yes, updates to a previously completed application are always free.  Participants who previously submitted an application but want to make changes to it can do so for free up until the October 31st program closing date.

Q: How many times can I fill out the survey?
A: The Green Masters Program encourages continuous improvement in sustainability practices. Therefore, the survey may be filled out multiple times during a year. The Green Masters Program will use the application with the highest score when calculating the top 20%.

Q: Are there fees for anything else?
A: All applicants will receive an email that shows their score and where it lies on a continuum of all previous applicants.  They also will receive a breakdown of how their score compares to all other applicants in each of the 9 sustainability areas.  They will receive a certificate that is suitable for framing.  However, whereas in the past, the specifically prepared dashboards that show participant performance change over time and participant performance against a specific sector were free, these now will come with a $100 fee.  However, if you refer another company to the Green Masters Program, you will receive a dashboard free of charge. We have heard from many participants that these dashboards are among the most valuable aspects of the Green Masters Program.

Q: Why are there now fees associated with the program and applying?
A:  Historically, a large percent of participants in the Green Masters Program choose to apply during the last month of the program.  We offered a number of incentives to try and encourage people to apply early in the year to no avail.  The workload with processing 80% of the applicants in a couple of weeks was overwhelming and resulted in unacceptable delays in getting participation packets out to companies.  We are seeking to move the crush of applications earlier in the year while at the same time honoring participant requests related to getting credit for projects that are implemented in the fall.

In addition, the Green Masters Program has been entirely free since its inception in 2009. While we are committed to continuing to encourage and welcome companies that are interested in sustainability, the Advisory Board to the WI Sustainable Business Council recommended developing a way to cover some of the costs of implementing the program.

We believe that the information and analytics that are available to participants are valuable and can be used to minimize cost and risk and grow the top line.  We hope that by charging a small amount for the tailored analytics that we recoup some of the economic benefit received by the participants.

Q: Why aren’t there distinctions made for the size of companies?  Why should a small business pay the same as a much larger business?
A: We’ll continue to refine how the payment system works.  For this first year, there was a tremendous amount of work done on developing the back end programming for how an applicant would move through the application process and be directed to PayPal at the appropriate time.  We’ll review our results after this first year with the Advisory Board and consider additional refinements to the process in the future.  Fundamentally, we do agree that small businesses should not be charged the same as large businesses, but change is hard and we are approaching these significant program changes slowly.

Q: What are the levels of participation in the Green Masters Program?
A. The Green Masters Program is designed to make it easy for any business that is committed to sustainability to receive recognition for its efforts. The three levels are:

Green Apprentice: Businesses that earn between 9 and 299 points
Green Professional: Businesses that earn 300 points or more
Green Master: Top 20% of businesses

The top 20% of applications received during the calendar year will be awarded the status of Green Masters companies at the WI Sustainable Business Council annual conference in December.

Q: What kind of questions are asked in the survey?
A. The Green Masters Program asks about actions in nine (9) key sustainability areas: energy, carbon and other emissions, water, waste and materials management, transportation, supply chain, community and educational outreach, workforce, and governance. Examples of the kinds of questions asked can be found HERE

Q: How long does my participation in the Green Masters Program last?
A: Your participation in the Green Masters Program starts in the year that you apply, and continues until the end of the second year after your original application (e.g. if you apply in 2015, you will be recognized for being in the program through the end of 2017). However, for companies interested in Green Masters status (top 20% of participants), only applications submitted during the current calendar year will be considered.

We recommend submitting an application annually. If you’ve applied to the program before, we are able to prepare a dashboard that tracks your progress in each of the 9 areas over time.  A PDF version of your completed application can be found on your personalized website.

For companies that attain Green Masters status, the website will note the year that you achieved this distinction.  However, you will only be publicly recognized at the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference if you have applied during the current calendar year and your score merits inclusion in the top 20% of companies.

Q: Is there any support available for Green Masters companies?
A. A number of case studies have been developed to assist companies looking for ideas on what can be done in any of the nine sustainability areas. These case studies are available at: http://wisconsinsustainability.com/case-studies/.

In addition, there are several organizations in the state that may be hired to help a business with their sustainability actions. Organizations include WMEP’s Profitable Sustainability Initiative, Focus on Energy, and regional efforts such as the Milwaukee Economy, Energy and the Environment (ME3) Program and the MPower Champions Program in Dane County.

Q: What are some of the benefits of joining?
A. Participants recognized for their sustainability initiatives will receive a personalized certificate of participation in the Green Masters Program that is suitable for framing. You will also be provided with access to a personalized sustainability dashboard. The dashboards, which help participants identify strengths and areas for improvement, are personalized for each company and reflect the organization’s scores from the past three years along with comparisons within the sector that your company is a part of. The dashboards are yet another tool to assist Wisconsin’s sustainability leaders on their road to a more sustainable future. An example dashboard can be seen below:

Example Dashboard 1Click on the dashboard to zoom.Example Dashboard 2

Green Masters Program participants will also receive the Green Masters Program Communication and Logo Kit. Our companies are the programs greatest promoters, so we encourage you to use our logo and include information about your participation on your website, Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Along with the Communication Kit, participants will be listed on the Green Masters Program website, a press release will be distributed upon request, and you will be featured on our social media.

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4. Recognition

Q: How does recognition work?
A: All members will receive a certificate suitable for framing, which recognizes their participation in the Green Masters Program. In addition, the top 20% of companies will be recognized at the WI Sustainable Business Council conference.

Q: Will this be communicated statewide?
A: The Green Masters Program will work with each interested applicant on a press release announcing new participants in the Green Masters Program. We also recommend that participants share this information with local and regional news media. We especially recommend the use of social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even YouTube, to communicate “green” accomplishments.

Q: Will this be nationally or internationally recognized?
A: The Green Masters Program is designed specifically for Wisconsin businesses. It aims to set a standard of sustainability excellence which will set participants apart as models of global corporate citizenship. With support from the WI Sustainable Business Council, the Green Masters Program will be promoted as a best practice for other states, and across the world.

Q: Where will Green Masters Program companies be identified?
A: All companies that successfully complete the questionnaire will be identified on the Green Masters Program participant webpage.

Q: Can my company use the Green Masters Program logo?
A: Any company that successfully completes the Green Masters Program application is eligible, and encouraged, to use the Green Masters Program logo on marketing or promotional materials. Additional details regarding the use of the logo are available in the Logo Use Guidelines document (sent to each company upon acceptance into the program).

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5. The Green Masters Program and Other Sustainability Initiatives

Q: My company is already doing a lot from a sustainability perspective, is it worth joining?
A: Yes! The Green Masters Program is the first statewide program of its kind and incorporates the best aspects of sustainability programs from across the world. Through the program, your company can be distinguished as a sustainability leader.

The WI Sustainable Business Council will host an annual event offering media and stakeholder recognition opportunities for businesses achieving Green Masters status. Being a part of the Green Masters Program will increase the visibility of a company’s sustainability activities.

Q: What if I am already participating in another program?
A. The Green Masters Program was not designed to compete with any of the existing sustainability programs in Wisconsin. Instead, the program recognizes Wisconsin businesses for their sustainability success. Participants in the Profitable Sustainability Initiative, the ME3 Program or the MPowering Champions program would be ideal candidates to receive recognition through the Green Masters Program.

In addition, the WI DNR offers the Green Tier Program (http://greentier.wi.gov/). Companies that apply to the Green Tier Program may also qualify for the Green Masters Program. The difference between the two programs lies in the broader scope of required actions in the Green Masters Program.

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