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Green Tier frequently asked questions

The Green Tier law, s. 299.83, Wis. Stats., empowers leading organizations to unleash the potential of their environmental management system (EMS) to guide their business strategy towards protecting Wisconsin’s environment and while growing the economy. To better understand the possibilities of continual improvement and going beyond compliance, we have provided answers to these frequently asked questions. Please select a topic area to learn more.

Green Tier's history

Green Tier was the first program of its kind in the country and serves as a model for others. It is based on recommendations from an advisory committee representing a wide array of business sectors, industry councils, municipalities and environmental organizations. It also builds on the successes of the Environmental Cooperation Pilot Program, which the DNR launched in 1998 to offer participating companies the opportunity to pursue environmental initiatives that would not have been possible under traditional regulations.

Components of "superior environmental performance" encouraged through Green Tier are based largely on the principles of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), a nonprofit organization that leads a national coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies to address sustainability challenges and promote continual progress toward pollution reduction, energy conservation and other environmental goals.

Governor Jim Doyle signed the original Green Tier legislation on April 16, 2004. It was set-up as a five-year pilot program with a sunset date of July 2009. In order to preserve the program and build upon successes, re-authorization legislation was proposed to accomplish the following three goals.

  1. Repeal sunset dates to make Green Tier a permanent program.
  2. Update elements of the statute to make administering the law more efficient and clear.
  3. Improve and expand the law's ability to improve both environmental and business results.

Due in part to great bi-partisan support, Gov. Jim Doyle signed re-authorization legislation on July 8, 2009.

In June 2012, Governor Scott Walker signed Executive Order 69 directing DNR to undertake actions to increase Green Tier program participation.

General questions

What is the vision?

Green Tier is a voluntary program that recognizes and rewards environmental performance "that voluntarily exceeds legal requirements related to health, safety and the environment resulting in continuous improvement in this state's environment, economy, and quality of life." (s. 299.83(1m)(b), Wis. Stats.)

Many provisions of Green Tier were tested in an Environmental Cooperation Pilot Program. Among the pilot program participant accomplishments were:

  • As part of its pilot program agreement, We Energies committed to reduce its annual coal use by at least 10,000 tons and generate more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity per year by burning coal ash recovered from company-owned landfills. This is enough electricity to meet the average annual needs of more than 1,000 Wisconsin homes! We Energies activities normally would have required multiple case-by-case approvals for each landfill site and ash reuse plan. The cooperative agreement allowed DNR to grant We Energies a blanket approval to save both parties time and labor. Wisconsin's environment benefited more quickly, and at a lower cost.
  • Northern Engraving Corporation manufactures nameplates and similar items at five facilities in Wisconsin and Iowa. A cooperative agreement allowed NEC to close a costly but relatively ineffective waste incinerator at their Sparta, Wis., facility and focus their resources on cleanups and other meaningful methods of environmental improvement. The agreement also allowed NEC to operate new equipment prior to obtaining a permit in certain cases provided that ambient air quality standards were protected and NEC first received written approval from DNR. NEC realized tremendous emissions reductions over the 10 years they were in the pilot program and this agreement gave them the flexibility they needed to do so. NEC is currently transitioning to Tier 2 of Green Tier.
What is the problem?

Current law does not allow state environmental officials to differentiate between exceptional environmental performers and those performing at or near the regulatory minimum. The use of staff resources to oversee these exceptional environmental performers does not yield environmental results proportional to the investment. Failure to tap the capacity and capability of good companies to produce substantive environmental results is inefficient for DNR and inhibits environmental improvement.

How will the department support a company's efforts to achieve superior environmental performance?

Environmental policy programs in the past have centered on a "command and control" approach to regulation. Regulatory programs have no mechanism for recognizing regulated entities that go beyond compliance with minimum environmental requirements. Entities achieving a high level of environmental performance receive no more benefits or recognition than those that merely comply with minimum standards. In some instances, in the short term, it may be costly for entities to go beyond compliance when they are in competition with others that are expending only those resources necessary to meet minimum regulations. Green Tier is designed to help entities offset these costs. While the department doesn't directly provide funding to achieve superior environmental performance, it can indirectly increase the competitive position of companies that are exceptional environmental performers.

How does the program work?

While entry into the program is voluntary, participation in Tier 1 is governed by a letter from the DNR to the company which lays out both responsibilities and benefits. Participation in Tier 2 is governed by a legal contract. Companies, communities and governments seeking a different level of involvement may negotiate contracts and charters that are flexible, innovative, efficient and enforceable. Self-auditing, third-party auditing, public involvement and reporting make the processes transparent and the results verifiable. For more information, read the Green Tier: An Overview of Performance-Based Environmental Management (CO-504) fact sheet.

Is an Environmental Management System required for Green Tier?

Wisconsin's Green Tier program places great value on Environmental Management Systems. Tier 1 participants must have an ISO-14001 certified or a functionally equivalent Environmental Management System in place by the end of their first year of participation. Tier 2 participants must have a well-developed EMS (ISO certified or functionally equivalent) at the time of application with a documented history of results. (See Environmental Management Systems web page for more information.)

How stringent are the requirements for adequate demonstration of superior environmental performance?

The Green Tier program requires "performance that results in measurable or discernible improvement in the quality of the air, water, land, or natural resources, or in the protection of the environment, beyond that which is achieved under environmental requirements…" The precise criteria for meeting this requirement will vary according to the creative strategy submitted by the entity for recognition in Green Tier.

Are the requirements for participation in Green Tier the same for each applicant? If not, how does the department manage the diverse approaches participants have to moving beyond compliance?

While the requirements for eligibility are the same for all applicants, the specific activities to achieve superior environmental performance are established by the participant. This allows participants to move beyond compliance by committing to an environmental strategy that is sensitive to their unique strengths and opportunities.

Each participant is paired with one regulator at the DNR who gets to know the participant's particular strengths and opportunities. This departmental contact will often specialize in an area that is of particular interest or concern to the participant. They can then offer their guidance to help enhance the participant's performance in their area of expertise and other areas that impact the participant.

Could DNR limit participation in the Green Tier program? Is this something to be cautious of when applying? Are there some inevitable limitations participants may face?

The DNR staff in charge of Green Tier will only limit the extent of participation by an applicant if it necessary to protect the integrity of the program. This may be necessary due to the substandard quality of an application or lack of department staff and/or resources available to process applications. The department may also delay admission to the program and wait for an applicant to demonstrate environmental performance that is judged to be superior. While DNR has delayed admission of applicants, it has not limited participation because of resource constraints.

What are the costs of applying to the program? How can the proposed incentives offset the costs of participation? Are there other benefits that may offset the costs besides the proposed incentives?

There are no fees for applying to or participating in Green Tier, however there will be indirect costs that are associated with the development and implementation of an Environmental Management System. These costs would be borne by any company choosing to implement an EMS. Environmental management systems are integral requirement component of participation in Green Tier, and there is cost in designing, implementing and auditing an EMS. Other costs include time and resources spent on the initial application and ongoing audits. Successful participants will often offset these costs with the increased efficiency that comes from both the direct incentives proposed by the program and the increased organization and effective investment that can occur as the result of participation.

How informed is the public about Green Tier? How much of an impact will participation have on public perceptions?

Green Tier is still gaining significant public recognition. Those who visit the department's website have access to information about the program and each applicant submits a list of stakeholders who might be interested in knowing more about Green Tier. These stakeholders are contacted directly by the DNR. As more entities participate in Green Tier, more of these notices will be sent to newspapers around the state, so the potential for positive public perception increases as more participants enter the program. These news releases along with the program logo will stimulate public interest and discussion and create business value for Green Tier participants.

What are the advantages of the Green Tier logo? It seems as if this could really enhance brand image.

The logo is meant to stimulate interest in the program and create an easily recognizable symbol that ties the participant's name to the goals and values of an innovative and credible environmental excellence program. As Green Tier achieves greater recognition among members of the public, this logo will prompt recognition of superior environmental performance and enhance the quality of participants' images.

How might participants benefit from sharing information with those who have an interest in their actions, performance, and involvement in Green Tier? What kinds of negative consequences might this have for participants?

Participants in Green Tier are required to inform stakeholders about their progress toward superior environmental performance. This information sharing recognizes participants for their Green Tier actions while building trust with stakeholders and can earn them recognition and distinction among their competitors. Providing public notice of participants' involvement and performance in Green Tier might entice competitors to follow similar paths. This may increase the number of entities that demonstrate superior environmental performance, but some participants may not want to share this information with their competitors. Moreover, Green Tier's requirement for public involvement may expose negative aspects about participants to community stakeholders, regulators, and environmental groups. While some may view the transparency of Green Tier as a potential threat to businesses, there are ways for participants to fulfill the requirement and involve the public without surrendering their competitive edge.

Although Green Tier participants must share relevant information with stakeholders, they are not required to share all information that may be relevant to competitors. The department does require an annual report from participants including a summary of their accomplishments, information on generic indicators, audit findings and reports on the success of the environmental management system. Participants are not required to submit a copy of the actual EMS. Aside from the contents of the annual report, they may submit any other information with a request that the information be held confidential because of trade secrets.

How will participants be recognized on the department website? Is this recognition obvious to visitors? Who will be looking at this?

Green Tier participants will be listed on the DNR website's Green Tier page along with links to public notices, press releases, and photos. The web page provides these entities with a showcase for their superior environmental performance and innovative thinking. Potential viewers of this information include regular visitors to the DNR website, those seeking more information about Green Tier, and those looking for information about the participants.

What's in it for businesses?

While most companies have achieved consistent compliance with regulatory requirements, the current business environment provides the opportunity for companies to engage in behaviors that would constitute superior environmental performance. Green Tier would save time, reduce costs, encourage innovation, contain liability and adapt to market demands. For more information, read The Business Case for Green Tier (CO-506) fact sheet.

What's in it for the environment?

Each company in the program commits to specific and measurable environmental improvements and reports regularly on their progress. Actions may result in reduced pollution, energy conservation, and the implementation of sustainability strategies. For more information, read the The Environmental Case for Green Tier: Moving from Compliance to Performance (CO-505) fact sheet.

What's in it for the community?

A cleaner environment, more communication between public and private entities, and increased community involvement.

What's in it for taxpayers?

Green Tier reduces bureaucracy and allows regulators to focus on the most pressing environmental concerns, like businesses with sub-standard environmental records.

What is the department's relationship with the public? How does their input affect Green Tier?

One of Green Tier's most important goals is transparency. Community stakeholders' access to all pertinent information regarding Green Tier participation is crucial to the success of the program. This transparency is necessary both to encourage trust between the DNR and participants and to allay public suspicions about the interests behind Green Tier negotiations.

Public support is vital to the successful Green Tier applicant. Each application is subject to public scrutiny before it is accepted. Public comment periods are held to allow the community to respond to these applications. The department also communicates with the public on its website and through annual notices to newspapers regarding entities' participation in the program.

How does participation in the program affect relationships with the Department?

Once a formal environmental management system is implemented, Tier 1 participants will experience the lowest allowable level of inspection frequency from the DNR. Participation in the Green Tier Program will also subject entities to deferred civil enforcement. The single point of contact will also help increase communication and trust between the entity and the department. This individual will help remove obstacles to smooth, timely processing of participants' paperwork and provide them with valuable information about how to work effectively with regulators. In addition to these benefits, Tier 2 participants are eligible for regulatory incentives. These benefits are negotiated by the participant and the department, which ensures that the incentives granted are proportional to the environmental benefits provided by the participant.

Tier 1

What is Tier 1?

Tier 1 is the entry level into the Green Tier program. It is designed to allow participants committed to enhanced environmental protection to distinguish themselves from others. Tier 1 participants are generally environmental innovators with proactive management teams. The DNR is committed to supporting these participants with incentives, including use of the Green Tier logo, that are not available to other companies.

What are the participation criteria for Tier 1?
  • A strong environmental compliance record, with no recent civil or criminal judgments or DNR citations. (See the application instructions (CO-501) [PDF] for more information.)
  • Commitment to a formal Environmental Management System by the end of the first full year in the program. Annual audits of the Environmental Management System must be done, with every third year performed by an external, certified auditor. (See the Approved Green Tier/EMS auditors webpage.)
  • Annual report to the DNR that includes performance reviews and audit results. (See the Green Tier Annual Reports for more information.) Continual improvement of environmental performance.

Tier 2

What is Tier 2?

Tier 2 is designed for companies with an effective Environmental Management System and a history of superior environmental performance. Tier 2 participants represent the truly exceptional companies that are not only committed to going above and beyond, but are also committed to bringing about change in their industry, region, or within their supply chain.

Tier 2 participants negotiate customized environmental contracts with the DNR. Interested stakeholders, including the public, are invited to help negotiate the contacts. These flexible agreements generally identify areas of current environmental regulations that the company wishes to modify and contains new requirements that require the company to commit to superior environmental performance. Tier 2 contracts may be the most innovative and valuable part of Green Tier, as they support both government efficiency and business competitiveness.

What are the participation criteria for Tier 2?
  • A strong environmental compliance record, with no recent civil or criminal judgments or DNR citations. Participation in Tier 2 requires a stronger environmental compliance record than Tier 1. (See the application instructions (CO-501) [PDF] for more information.)
  • A formal Environmental Management System that has been in place and has documented results.
  • Annual compliance audit are performed by the participant or an external auditor.
  • Annual audits of the Environmental Management System for Tier 2 are performed every year by an external, certified auditor.
  • Prompt follow-up action to any findings of non-compliance or non-conformance discovered during the annual audits.
  • Annual report to the DNR that includes performance reviews and audit results. (See the Green Tier Annual Reports for more information.)
  • Continual improvement of environmental performance
What are the benefits to participants of Tier 2 over Tier 1? Is the public aware of the differences?

Tier 2 participants negotiate contracts with DNR staff stating their specific strategy for achieving superior environmental performance, their commitment to implement that strategy, and the incentives they expect to receive from the department. These incentives may be more valuable than those offered only in Tier 1 because they can directly reduce costs associated with regulation and improve participants' positions relative to their competitors. These contracts also foster greater efficiency in the department by reducing the time and resources spent on regulation.

Participants in Tier 2 are also recognized for satisfying more rigorous eligibility requirements than those in Tier 1 with a stronger environmental compliance record and an environmental management system already in place at the time of application. The DNR promotes awareness of the distinctions between Tiers 1 and 2 through public hearings, news releases, and information recorded on the department website regarding program participants.

What is a participation contract?

A participation contract is a legal agreement entered into by the DNR and a Tier 2 participant that specifies:

  1. the participant's legal commitment to superior environmental performance; and
  2. incentives to be provided to the participant (may include regulatory flexibility, public recognition, branding, etc.).
How will DNR ensure that the incentives to participants are proportional to their benefits to the environment? How is this proportionality determined?

The applicant, DNR staff and interested stake holders will negotiate the incentives. DNR Green Tier administrators will also weigh the value of the proposed benefits to the environment against the magnitude of the incentives requested. There will also be a 30-day comment period for the public to provide feedback on the proposed contract. A Tier 2 contract that describes substantial environmental benefits will be approved unless the department determines that:

  • the environmental benefits proposed are not sufficient to justify granting the incentives.
  • the incentives granted would result in adverse environmental change way before the environmental benefits would be realized.
  • the speculative nature of the environmental benefits provides insufficient justification for issuing immediate and tangible incentives.
  • the declaration of proportionality is not in the best interest of the program. This reaction will occur if public reactions to the proposal indicate that determining proportionality would erode public confidence in the program.
Why is the participant responsible for explaining how its proposed measures for improvement are proportional to the incentives it expects to receive?

Green Tier is not a program that tells entities what to do. Part of participating in Tier 2 of the program is developing contracts that indicate a commitment to improving environmental performance while diminishing the need for regulation. While the DNR determines eligibility and negotiates the terms of these contracts, the commitments necessary to receive the incentives are actually specified by the participant. In this way, the program encourages creative thinking about ways to increase business value while achieving better environmental results.

Tier 2 participants submit a letter of intent to the DNR stating how they propose to achieve superior environmental performance and the incentives they expect in return. If the department determines that the applicant is eligible for Tier 2, then, following an initial public comment period, they will begin negotiating the terms of the contract with the participant. This could take up to a year or longer depending on the department's assessment of how proportional the participant's proposed environmental benefits are to its requested incentives.

Charters

What is an environmental results charter? What necessitates these charters? What are the potential benefits? Potential costs?

A charter is a contract entered into by the DNR and an association committed to helping some group of entities participate in Green Tier. An association may consist of private entities, public entities, or a combination. In a charter, the association must describe its goals, the responsibilities of its members, and the methods its members will use to accomplish their goals. The term of a charter can be between three and 10 years, with the opportunity for renewal. Charters help business sectors or regions establish environmental goals and develop systems that support the accomplishment of those goals.

Environmental results charters are typically composed of entities in similar locations, business sectors, or regulatory situations that are committed to achieving common superior environmental performance goals. These charters provide an excellent opportunity for more environmentally proficient entities to demonstrate leadership by collaborating with and assisting those that may be less capable, but want to get involved. These less capable members are given the assistance they need to meet environmental performance goals and are provided with a framework for future participation in Tier 1 or 2.

Members of charters that participate in Tier 1 or Tier 2 receive both statutory incentives and any additional incentives that are negotiated in the charter. They are also expected to provide the same transparency and potential for public participation. In addition to the incentives provided by the department, Green Tier charter members may experience lower transaction costs than individual participants in Tiers 1 and 2. Since a charter may include several entities, the costs of application, negotiation, and audits may be spread out to decrease the expenses of each member.

Annual Reports

General
What is the due date for our annual report?

Each Green Tier participant has an individualized due date for their annual report, there is not one single due date for all participants. These dates are tailored to each company’s reporting year and reporting schedule - the DNR wants these to be at a convenient time for the participant. You can find your due date in your Green Tier commitment outline or by asking your single point of contact (SPOC) or project coordinator. Your commitment outline can be found on your company’s Green Tier web page by clicking on “Acceptance Letter”. The due date can be found in section IV-Annual Reporting of that document. You can also find the names of both your SPOC and project coordinator in this section.

These new instructions are requiring elements that weren’t previously required. Will existing Green Tier participants be grandfathered to using the previous instructions?

No, we are asking all participants to use the new annual report instructions. These new instructions were created to help participants provide the best information to show continual improvement in their environmental efforts. You can contact your single point of contact (SPOC) with any questions or concerns while working on your report.

If our company produces a corporate sustainability report (CSR), can we submit this as our annual report?

We would prefer that you provide a separate annual report for Green Tier. However, your CSR may be accepted if all of the Green Tier requirements are easily found, including the Environmental Metrics spreadsheet from Appendix 1 and your EMS audit results from Appendix 2. Please discuss with your SPOC or Project Coordinator.

Executive Summary
Do we need to list all of our significant environmental aspects and impacts or just the ones we have goals for?

We would like to see all of your significant environmental aspects and impacts. You can note the ones you have goals for and will discuss in the upcoming sections. For those significant aspects you do not have goals for, a narrative on why you are not or the risks of not addressing these items would be valuable.

Our environmental policy is available on our website, can I include a link to the document?

Yes, you can provide a link to your environmental policy. You could also include a copy or an image of your policy.

What information are you looking for under “Sustainability Vision”?
We are looking for answers to the following questions:
  • What will it look like for your company to be sustainable?
  • What do you need to get there?
  • How much progress have you made?
  • What are the big problems you have to solve?
Environmental Performance
Why are you requesting information since we joined Green Tier, isn’t this an annual report?

In this section we are looking for a summary of your past environmental performance, since you joined Green Tier, to give readers a summary of your efforts leading up to this year. This is also helpful to those participants that had large capital expenditures on past improvement projects like adding solar arrays or updating to more efficient equipment that may have slowed what they could accomplish in this reporting year.

What is meant by “performance improvements that have reduced the level of regulations”?

We are looking for areas where environmental improvements have allowed you to reduce your permit levels or even to a point where you are no longer regulated. An example would be a company that used a hazardous waste material in production causing them to follow regulations as a small quantity generator (SQG), through their work in their supply chain they were able to find an alternative, non-hazardous material that provided the same quality product. They are no longer generating hazardous waste; therefore certain regulations no longer apply.

Progress on Goals & Objectives
Do we have to tie each goal to a Superior Environmental Performance outcome?

Superior environmental performance is broad enough that most environmental goals can help accomplish at least one of the nine outcomes, but as long as you make the connection to at least one outcome, your report can be accepted.

We have long-term goals with 5-year or longer target dates for completion. On one of our goals we have yet to implement the changes to move the needle toward improvement, should we drop this goal from our report?

No, you should keep the goal on the report and show what steps or actions you have taken so far to achieve this goal. Activities for the current fiscal reporting year can be strategic (long-term planning), tactical (short-term actions) or operational (actions put into use).This may include reviewing current equipment use, gathering data, building a business case for capital to purchase a new piece of equipment, or explaining the business plan to meet this target on time.

We’ve experienced a management change since the beginning of the year and our company focus and environmental goals have been changed. How should we report on our goals?

Explain the changes that occurred and note the new objectives or goals that you are tasked with. Then explain the progress you have made on these new goals since they were in place.

Metrics Narrative (more under Environmental Metrics)
I’ve already explained the metrics tied to my environmental objectives under “Progress on Goals & Objectives” do I have to repeat that information here?

No, this section is to explain the metrics we are asking participants to supply in Appendix 1. These metrics may be broader than what you are tracking for your goals.

Why should I provide data on items I do not have objectives against?

The information supplied in Appendix 1 will help the DNR tell the story of Green Tier by providing data to show the collective improvements on environmental impacts by participants in Green Tier. If you track these metrics, you may also find unintended improvements in different aspects of your business due to implementation of your goals or other projects.

Additional Accomplishments
Our company was recognized as an industry “Best Place to Work” last year, does this qualify as they type of additional accomplishment you are looking for?

This is an opportunity to share your achievements with the public. DNR is mostly interested in your other environmental accomplishments or achievements, but any accomplishment or certification that sets you apart from your industry peers is acceptable. The "Best Place to Work" recognition speaks to the culture of your company and how your employees feel about the goals and future of the company.

Stakeholder Relationships
I thought the law only required Tier 2 companies to have interactions with interested parties, do I have to report anything if I am in Tier 1?

Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies should interact with interested parties and other stakeholders. Both ISO 14001 and Green Tier Functionally Equivalent EMS’s require training of employees (Stakeholders). Also, under 299.83 (3)(d)(3), Tier 1 facilities are to explain how discussions with community members near their facility influenced their choice of objectives in their EMS.

We did a supply chain survey and ranking as one of our environmental objectives, do we have to describe it again here?

Giving a short summary of your survey work in this section would be appropriate. You could reference that more information is available under the "Progress on Goals & Objectives" section.

Future Goals
We’ve already set and achieved goals for all of our environmental impacts. How do we continue to set new goals?

If you truly have tackled all your environmental impacts, then setting goals to maintain current levels is possible. But be sure that you have looked at all areas; could you review your suppliers and find more environmentally-friendly inputs?

Our EMS is very mature, and we feel like we have completed every upgrade at our facility. Where can we go next?

Green Tier law includes the idea of facility or activity that is performed. Are there activities or processes that extend beyond your facility? Can you use a life-cycle approach to determine goals and objectives that go beyond your fence line?

We want to work on environmental objectives, but our facility doesn’t have much for environmental impacts. How can we continue to demonstrate a commitment to the environment?

Superior Environmental Performance references voluntarily restoring or preserving natural resources. You could look at some opportunities that exist near you. Are there local natural areas that could use your support? Are there any impacts that could be improved further to set you apart from others in the industry?

Our company has a strong commitment to addressing risks associated with climate change. Is this something we can use to set our future goals?

Yes, these can be included in your goals. We encourage participants to look at ways they can address environmental issues; locally, regionally, and beyond.

Environmental Metrics
Do I have to fill out the metrics that do not match our current goals, that we do not track, or that we decline to answer?

Yes, we would like you to fill them out. Most of the metrics requested are easily accessible for participants to track.

I use normalized data for all of my reporting, can I supply this information on the metrics sheet?

We are asking for raw data on the metrics sheets. This will allow Green Tier to better aggregate the data from all our participants. Since participants use different normalizing units it would be more difficult to combine the data. Please feel free to use normalized data to explain your metrics sheet in the narrative above.

My raw data numbers do not reflect the actual story of continual improvement and efficiencies my company has achieved. The total kWh have increased year on year, but when normalized it shows we use less per unit of production.

As previously noted, Green Tier is using the raw data to show collective results of all our participants. Please use the “Metrics Narrative” to explain these numbers. You can say it was an overall increase due to a production increase, but we found efficiencies in the usage per unit. You can explain with the actual numbers or percentages. We will use these explanations to help tell the full Green Tier story for each metric item.

I do not want to provide purchasing information, the amounts we spend are proprietary.

We are looking for the percent (%) of your purchases that come from the three categories, not the actual dollar amounts.

  • Local Purchases: used to analyze if supply chain proximity is aiding in reduced transportation emissions
  • In-State Purchases: used to show economic contributions to WI
  • Green Tier Purchase: used to show interactions and support of other Green Tier participants
EMS Audit Information
Our company has an ISO 14001:2015 EMS and certificate. Can we just attach our certificate instead of doing an audit report?

GT law 3(d)(4) & 5(c)(2) states participants must provide a report on the EMS audit. Your ISO 14001 certificate does not give us the summary of your audit.

Our auditor will not give us the final report or letter of conformance for our functionally equivalent EMS audit, they want us to complete the corrective actions first. Why are they doing this?

Green Tier auditors are instructed to hold the letter of conformance of the EMS until they deem all nonconformities are sufficiently addressed and/or corrected. A non-functioning EMS is considered a violation of Green Tier law and must be resolved in 90 days or an agreed timeframe.

Tier 1 facilities with a non-functioning functionally equivalent EMS are not permitted wait for their next external audit to prove their EMS is now functioning. It will need to be corrected in a timely manner and approved by your EMS auditor.

My EMS auditor is not approved by the DNR, but they have been our auditor for several years, can they be grandfathered in or do I have to switch auditors?

You should request that your auditor contacts Green Tier to complete the necessary steps to become approve. Information on becoming a Green Tier auditor can be found on the auditor page of the Green Tier website.

We have a corporate contract with an ISO registrar and do not always get the same auditor, how can we be sure to have a DNR approved auditor?

This will be discussed on a case-by-case basis, please contact your Project Coordinator for more information.

Compliance Reporting
My company had a violation found by an inspector, but we corrected it right away. Do we have to report this?

Yes, we are asking all participants to be transparent about their environmental performance over the reporting period. You should note there was a violation and give the time period it was corrected in

Is it appropriate to request Deferred Civil Enforcement in the annual report?

No, to be eligible for deferred civil enforcement, you must report any violations to Green Tier immediately. You should use this section to summarize the outcomes of any deferred civil enforcement that has occurred over the past year.

My company is in Tier 1, do I need to explain the results of our Compliance Audit?

No, Tier 2 participants are required to provide information about their compliance audit. We do encourage Tier 1 participants to explain the audit but documenting when it occurred is sufficient.

The complexity of environmental challenges facing Wisconsin demands that we move beyond the current compliance model.
Said one Green Tier advocate