Our Journey to Become a Certified Benefit Cooperation

Third Sun Solar is proud to be part of a larger movement which is striving to redefine success in business so all companies compete to not only be the best in the world, but best for the world.

A B Corp since 2012, we’re leading a global movement to redefine success in business. We’re part of over 1,700 other companies worldwide committed to using business as a force for good. Check them all out at www.bcorporation.net.

Certified B Corporations are for profit companies, anywhere in the world, that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and legal accountability. This notion is gaining traction, as CEO’s nationwide see the importance of using business as a force for good. 

 

Chief executives from the Business Roundtable, including the leaders of Apple and JPMorgan Chase, argued that companies must also invest in employees and deliver value to customers.” – The New York Times 

 

Taking people and planet seriously is at the heart of our company’s mission. That’s why we have done things like:

  • Installed solar on our own offices to produce almost 70% of our company’s electricity through clean power;
  • Conduct  waste audits to see how we could cut down on our waste products even further;
  • Encouraged and assisted other businesses to take action to become B Corporations;
  • Sell a clean energy product every day with the mission to accelerate the shift to clean energy.

We couldn’t do all this without the support of our customers, our employees and our community. These are people like you who believe in our mission—people who prove that doing good is also good for business. Thank you helping us to succeed where it truly matters.

Our B-Corps Journey…

We became a Certified BCorps in March 2012. We were re certified in 2014 and 2016 and are currently in the process of re-certification.

Why did we do it?

We became a Certified Benefit Cooperation because we want to be an example of how business can be a force for good.  Our founders, while committed to spreading solar through business, also wanted to show that all businesses are not all profit and hungry at all costs.  At one time this was a novel idea & there were a few stand out businesses that were doing their business and also striving to do no harm. Now we’re seeing the notion hit the mainstream – and we’re glad!
At the time we were certified, we also had just begun discussions with some of our peer solar companies in other parts of the country about banding together in some way- the birth of Amicus solar cooperative– and several of those companies that we really respected were B Corps.

How do you become a B Corp?

The process is a multi-step one, starting with an Impact Assessment.  Questions are categorized to assess all facets of business:
  • Governance
  • Workers
  • Community
  • Environment
  • Customers

We provide information & documentation for:

  • How much waste and recycling we produce
  • The percentage of clean power we use at our headquarters
  • Our products benefit environmentally
  • Salary & benefits structures for our employees
  • Transparency structures in management
  • Contribution to the larger community through donations or activities
  • Sustainable practices in how we deploy our product and run our offices
  • … and much more.

 80 is the cut off points for a business to become certified.  50.9 is the average score of just any mainstream business. Our current score is 88.5.

Changes needed…

To become certified we needed to make some changes…
  • We had a zero waste assessment from Rural Action & put those practices into play
  • Almost 100% of our electricity from solar, and our product eliminates greenhouse gases, so we already were doing a lot on the environmental front
  • Every year we purchase carbon offsets for our vehicle fleet
  • We began to hire and review employees based on their commitment to the BCorps values (which largely overlap with our values)
  • We became more transparent on our financials and metrics with the entire company
  • Wages were raised for employees
  • The last legal thing that we had to do was to insert into our corporate Operating Agreement that we would always consider the people and the planet as much in our decisions as we consider profit

We still have a lot of potential progress and changes that we can make…

One thing that the assessment always shows us is the areas where we can do better. Going into 2020, one of those areas we plan on examining is our supply chain to ensure that their practices include fair labor practices, environmental sustainability. It would be great if a % of our vendors could be B Corps themselves.

When we were first certified, we were one of only 3 companies in Ohio. Now there are 14.