September 2021

· 2 min read

Professional Services Firms to Pilot New Sustainability Certification Program

Crowe LLP, Nasdaq and others are test driving NSF’s new sustainability certification program for the professional services sector.
Natural park surrounded with buildings - New Pilot of Professional Services Sustainability Certification | NSF International

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Global public health organization NSF International today announced that Crowe LLP, an accounting, consulting and technology firm, and the sustainability consulting firms ISOS Group and Brightworks Sustainability, will participate in a pilot program for organizations seeking certification to the American National Standard for sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices in the professional services sector, NSF/ANSI 391.1: General Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Professional Services. The Nasdaq Stock Market and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), a not-for-profit electric service provider in Northern California, are also participating in the pilot.

“We’re excited for Crowe to be a part of this pilot, as we know the importance and overall impact of ESG,” said Julie Wood, Chief People Officer and Chair of Crowe’s corporate responsibility committee. “At Crowe, our values and purpose shape our business decisions. Our commitment to sustainable business practices extends to the organizations, vendors and communities that we choose to work with.”

The NSF/ANSI 391.1 standard established criteria for evaluating professional services providers’ environmental, social, governance (ESG) and supply chain impacts. Similar to the LEED green building rating system, the professional services standard uses a point system. Certification to the standard will help firms demonstrate their commitment to sustainable and ethical business practices.

“The signs of climate change are all around us now. In response to this urgent crisis, governments, investors and institutional buyers are placing additional pressure on the business community to take meaningful action on the environmental and social impacts of their businesses,” said Michael Salemi, Head of Innovation at NSF International. “Certification to NSF/ANSI 391.1 will help professional services firms differentiate themselves from competitors by documenting and verifying their sustainable business practices. It may also help firms meet pending state and federal procurement guidelines.”

Salemi said several government agencies and large institutional buyers of professional services are watching the pilot program closely to better understand how the certification program might support their own ESG goals.

The pilot program — expected to last three months — will provide an orientation to the 21 prerequisites of the standard and help participating firms decide if they are ready to pursue certification. For professional services providers, the prerequisites for certification include:

  • Documentation of ethical codes of conduct
  • A publicly available environmental policy
  • Demonstrated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from company services
  • A commitment to support nonprofits and/or NGOs or provide pro bono services
  • Policies to implement supplier diversity and increased spending with diverse suppliers

“After the pilot program is complete, we expect several firms will be ready to immediately continue with the process and earn the first certifications to the standard,” Salemi said.

The pilot program is scheduled to begin in October, but organizers say there is still time for interested professional services firms to participate. Additional institutional buyers and membership organizations are also invited to participate as observers.

For more information on the pilot program, visit NSF’s Call for Pilot Participants.