Benefit Corporations

Green America is a proud supporter of the Benefit Corporation legislation. We continue to advocate on behalf of our green business community to help build momentum for the new legislation in key states.

Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont and Washington DC have enacted Benefit Corporation legislation with strong bi-partisan support; other states are posed to enact legislation as well.

Click here to read the letter from Green America Executive Director Alisa Gravitz to Senator Juan Vargas in support of the California Benefit Corporation legislation.

Green America's Green Business Network members show support for Benefit Corporation legislation in Colorado - read the letter here.

 

What is a Benefit Corporation?

Benefit Corporations are a new class of corporation that

  1. creates a material positive impact on society and the environment;
  2. expands fiduciary duty to require consideration of non-financial interests when making decisions; and
  3. reports on its overall social and environmental performance using third party standards. Benefit corporation legislation does not require a benefit corporation to use any specific third party standard to prepare its annual benefit report. Nor is the benefit corporation required to have that report certified or audited by a third party.

Can I use my Green America certification to become a Benefit Corporation?

The Green America certification does meet the third party standards for annual benefit reporting outlined in the legislation for each state.

What states have passed Benefit Corporation status?

As of December 2013, the following states have enacted Benefit Corporation legislation: (green on map)

Map-of-benefit-corporation

 

Legislation Passed (Green on map)
Legislation Introduced (Blue on map)

Arizona – Effect on October 22, 2013

Arkansas – Passed. Will go into effect 90 days
                after the legislature adjorns.

Colorado – Will go into effect on January 1, 2014

California – Effective January 1, 2012

Delaware – Partially effective August 1, 2013

Hawaii - Effective July 8, 2011

Illinois - Effective January 1, 2013

Louisiana - Effective August 1, 2012

Maryland – Effective October 1, 2011

Massachusetts – Effective December 1, 2012

Nevada – Will go into effective on January 1, 2014

New Jersey – Effective March 7, 2011

New York – Effective February 10, 2012

Oregon – Will go into effective on January 1, 2014

Pennsylvania – Effective January 22, 2013

Rhode Island – Will go into effective on January 1, 2014

South Carolina – Effective June 14, 2012

Virginia – Effective July 1, 2011

Vermont – Effective January 1, 2011

Washington, DC - Pending congressional review

Washington – Effective July 6, 2012

Alabama – Passed Senate Committee
               February 5, 2013

Connecticut – Introduced February 7, 2013

Florida – Failed

Georgia –Introduced

Idaho – Introduced

Iowa – Introduced in 2011

Kansas – Introduced

Kentucky – Introduced

Michigan – Introduced

Minnesota – Introduced

Montana – Failed

New Hampshire – Introduced

North Carolina –Introduced February 1, 2011

Ohio – Introduced

Texas – Introduced March 18, 2013

Utah – Introduced

West Virginia – Introduced February 26, 2013

Wisconsin – Introduced


What if my business is an LLC?

Maryland is the only state that has created the Benefit LLC legal designation. We recommend that you speak with legal counsel and your tax advisor regarding the implications of changing your status from LLC to Benefit LLC. Green America and the Green Business Network cannot provide you with legal advice. This page is for educational purposes only.
 

What is the process for filing as a Benefit Corporation in my state?

B Lab has created the Benefit Corporation Information Center which lists the general requirements for the states where Benefit Corporation legislation has been passed. For the latest information, click here to learn how to become a benefit corporation.

What is the difference between being a B Corp and a Benefit Corporation?

According to the Benefit Corporation Information Center:

Certified B Corporation is a certification conferred by the nonprofit B Lab.  Benefit Corporation is a legal status administered by the state.  

Do I need to be a B Corp in order to be a Benefit Corporation?

No. Benefit Corporation legislation does not require certification or membership in any specific organization.

How do I use Green America’s Green Business Certification to apply for Benefit Corporation status?

The Benefit Corporation legislation requires businesses to create annual benefit reports outlining their overall social and environmental performance using a third party standard. Green America’s online certification program allows businesses to measure their sustainability performance, identify and implement new sustainability projects, and report leadership to clients through an interactive seal that generates a real-time public sustainability report. This online report fulfils the annual benefit reporting requirement for the Benefit Corporation status.

Does being a Benefit Corporation earn my business extra points in Green America’s green business certification?

Yes. Benefit Corporations and Benefit LLCs will earn extra points in GreenGain, Green America’s certification assessment program. Click here for more information on Green America’s standards and ratings system.

Why should I choose to incorporate as a Benefit Corporation?

Becoming a Benefit Corporation legally allows your company to make decisions based on sustainability and mission. Benefit Corporation status sets your company apart and demonstrates to consumers a commitment to both people and planet along with shareholders. It also offers legal protection to directors and officers to consider the non-financial interests of their workforce, community, and the environment when making decisions, even in liquidity/sale scenarios.

The sale of Ben & Jerry’s has been used as an example for the creation of the Benefit Corporation. Read more below to decide if being a Benefit Corporation is right for your business.

Benefit Corporations: A new business entity for the socially minded

The Benefit Corporation: Can businesses be about more than profit?