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Green Tier overview

The Green Tier program empowers organizations to align their business objectives with environmental performance by providing a voluntary platform for collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Start by watching the video below!

What is Green Tier?

Green Tier's collaborative approach reduces regulatory burden and incentivizes participants to go above and beyond the basic environmental requirements and achieve superior environmental performance, a key component of Green Tier. Participants are encouraged to think creatively about ways they improve their environmental impacts while growing their business.

Working proactively with high performers allows the DNR to expand its traditional role as a regulator to that of a resource and a partner. The DNR is committed to helping Green Tier participants continue to raise the bar and discover new opportunities for environmental stewardship.

Why Green Tier?

Green Tier is the only state program in the country to acknowledge participants who drive their performance with a systems-based approach that has an integrated assessment and transparency process. Green Tier participation can lead to the following outcomes:

  • The systematic approach helps identify and minimize potential environmental risks.
  • The regular performance assessments reduce the potential for noncompliance and help facilities improve their overall environmental footprint.
  • The annual reports ensure transparency with those potentially affected by a facility’s operations and can be used as a tool to promote environmental achievements to stakeholders.
  • The measurable environmental improvement helps differentiate participants from their competition.

Most participants utilize an Environmental Management System (EMS), to guide their strategy for continual improvement. Each organization’s purpose for choosing to improve their environmental footprint is unique, but no matter their reason for adopting an EMS, they can improve profitability by increasing efficiency, reducing risks, and cutting costs. Participants also receive the following benefits from the DNR:

  • The DNR recognizes Green Tier participants and works to share their stories.
  • The Green Tier logo can be used by participants to brand their commitment to superior environmental performance.
  • A dedicated DNR staff member is matched to each Green Tier participant. That staff member is there to improve communication and provide a consistent point of contact from the DNR.
  • Green Tier participants are afforded limited liability protections for mistakes that are proactively identified, addressed and self-corrected.
  • Tier 2 participants can negotiate innovative regulatory solutions that can result in streamlining permits or allowing for additional flexibilities in operations.

Green Tier participants sometimes experience intangible benefits from joining the program. Participants can use the program to help build a good reputation as a sustainable organization, presenting new business opportunities and improving their competitive advantage. Participants may also see an increased level of employee engagement and satisfaction, which can improve retention rates. This shows that Green Tier participants can take pride in their accomplishments!

Who Can Participate?

Participants can be individual businesses of any size, or groups with shared goals that could include businesses, non-governmental organizations, or local governments. See who’s currently in Green Tier by visiting our participant webpage!

How to Participate?

Green Tier offers three options for participation, depending on where your organization is at on its sustainability journey. These options are listed below. Each have different requirements and benefits, and we can help you decide if one of the options is a good fit for your organization.

Tier 1

Tier 1 might be for you if you are looking to develop or utilize a system to improve your environmental footprint, become more sustainable and engage with the department. Tier 1 participants commit to having an EMS in place within one year of joining Green Tier and annually auditing that system, including an external audit every third year by a DNR approved auditor.

Tier 2

Tier 2 is for companies that are already achieving superior environmental performance through their continual improvement strategy. Tier 2 participants are actively driving their sustainability efforts with an EMS and commit to auditing their EMS annually through an external audit by a DNR approved auditor. Tier 2 participation is more rigorous because it provides additional opportunities for regulatory flexibilities and incentives, which can be negotiated into their participation contract with the DNR.


Charters provide a framework for groups with similar interests to work collaboratively with the DNR to address environmental issues and opportunities and further environmental goals. Charter participants can be businesses, members of a supply chain, industry sectors, trade associations, public sector entities, or others. If you, or a group you're involved with, would like to proactively work towards a shared environmental goal, a Green Tier Charter may be the fit for you.

To learn more about the process for applying, check out the applicant webpage.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions webpage.