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Alex Myers

Alex Myers of Myers & Associates will take over the legal advice column "Minding Your Business." He specializes in business law.

The Napa Valley Vintners recently announced an initiative to have every member of its trade association become certified in the Napa Green Certified Land or Winery program by the end of 2020.

This is a reflection of a larger movement in industries nationwide, as green business practices are increasingly popular in every business sector. “Going green” is a welcome trend, and there are many avenues for recognition and instruction on how to do so.

Locally, the Napa County Green Business Program is available for smaller businesses, and the Napa Green Certified Winery program is available specifically for wineries. The Napa County Green Business program is part of the regional Bay Area Green Business Program, which in turn is a member of the statewide California Green Business Program.

These programs set standards for green business practices on issues such as the use of recycled materials, energy conservation and water conservation. For information on how to implement green business practices and become recognized as a Napa County Green Business contact Napa County Public Works at 707-253-4351.

From a business organizational perspective, a few years ago the state of California created a new classification of corporation called the Benefit Corporation. The Benefit Corporation structure is intended for businesses that pursue not just profit for shareholders, but that also contribute to greater public benefit through activities such as green initiatives, volunteerism and charitable donations.

Benefit Corporations have some increased annual reporting requirements, but otherwise have most of the same requirements as more conventional corporations. Converting to a Benefit Corporation helps to ensure that contributing to public benefit efforts is not considered a waste of corporate assets, and incentivizes pursuit of not just financial gain, but societal and environmental benefit as well. These goals are often called the “triple bottom line.”

The term B Corp. is often used as shorthand for benefit corporations, but they are not interchangeable. While benefit corporations are a governmentally created business type authorized by the California Corporations Code, B Corp. is a certification issued by the nonprofit and nongovernmental organization, B Lab.

B Lab has established a set of best practices criteria for businesses wishing to be recognized as contributing to the public benefit, and issues its own certification to businesses that meet that criteria set. B Corp. certification may be likened to LEED certification for buildings, in that they are not governmental or legally required statuses, but are often used as benchmarks for performance.

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Alex Myers is a business attorney with Myers & Associates in Napa, and can be reached at alex@myers-associates.com or at 707-257-1185. The information provided in this column is not intended as legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The information is not a comprehensive analysis of the law — if you need legal advice you should contact an attorney.

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