Our research is conducted using life-cycle analysis principles, meaning that we track impacts from material extraction, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, usage, and disposal as opposed to just one supply chain area of a business or product.
This goes against the common practice in the market, which is only to look at one aspect of an item’s impact (i.e. USDA Organic, Energy Star, etc.). Many eco-labels either are missing a significant chunk of the product’s environmental impact and/or list information that is not desirable to consumers.
We have collected data from all listed businesses to analyze environmental impacts across all areas. Data is primarily collected through detailed surveys, and each survey is different depending on the business category. When collecting data, we inquire about all relevant environmental performance metrics.
Supplementary information is gathered from publicly available resources such as business's websites and promotional materials, and third party resources such the EPA, Green Restaurant Association, and the Environmental Working Group.
Each listed business's information is verified at least once a year to ensure accuracy of our listings, and to prevent out-of-date data from being published.
The key to our rating system is the criteria weighting that accompanies our surveys and data collection. Not every data point is equally important in the evaluation of a business's sustainability performance, and we account for this by giving greater significance to the areas that drive the overall environmental impact. For example, when evaluating a restaurant, the result is driven by how the ingredients are sourced while things such as light fixtures and recycled materials, while still included in our surveys and scoring, are of secondary importance. These distinctions are captured through criteria weighting.
To establish this crucial piece of our methodology, Greenopia compiles numerous life cycle assessment studies from various sources (government agencies, nonprofits, and academic institutions) to ensure that the most environmentally important parts of the supply chain are also weighted the most heavily. This is an ongoing process and we continuously audit our rating system and incorporate new studies into our methodology.
Greenopia also commissioned a study completed by the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara to determine which environmental criteria were the most important to consumers when making a purchasing decision. Greenopia now conducts updates of this same study each year internally, and consumer perception continues to play an important role when deciding how to analyze and weight the data that we collect.
Over 20 of our 60+ categories are given a rating using our Green-Leaf Award system to determine their level of eco-commitment.
For select categories where we are able differentiate varying levels of sustainability, Greenopia employs the Leaf Award system. In leaf rated categories, businesses can earn from 1 to 4 leafs:
1 leaf meets at least 25% of the weighted criteria
2 leafs meets at least 50% of the weighted criteria
3 leafs meets at least 75% of the weighted criteria
4 leafs meets at least 90% of the weighted criteria
The leaf award system is meant to encourage businesses to improve their practices over time.
You may notice that some listings do not have a leaf rating and instead appear as a "Greenopia Recommended Business". This occurs because not every category is leaf-rated. Categories may not have a leaf rating because they are new and emerging, because data is very hard to obtain, or because of streamlined criteria within that category. Listings in these categories will appear as a "Greenopia Recommended Business". It is important to remember that it is a tremendous honor to even be listed in Greenopia’s directory and even a one-leaf score, or inclusion in a non-leaf-scored category represents a significant environmental commitment by the business.
To improve the transparency of our data, we are embarking on the addition of a Green Scorecard to our listings. In addition to showing the leaf score of a business, when available we will highlight what green attributes a businesses possess that earns its rating. This scorecard will be displayed on each listing’s individual page.
Another crucial detail is that Greenopia will never charge businesses to be included in its directory and believes that this arrangement ensures credibility and integrity for its research methodology. Listings included in our directory are there because of merit, and not because they paid for the distinction.