Mar Vista-based community organization Open Neighborhoods has received a business certification that emphasizes social and environmental sustainability.
Open Neighborhoods is a social media platform for neighborhood engagement, said co-founder and President James Brennan.
"We provide neighborhood community websites, free Wi-Fi service, and the leading rooftop solar group-purchasing program in Los Angeles," said Brennan, a Mar Vista resident.
Its initiatives impressed the members of the nonprofit organization B Lab, the certifying authority of B Corporation. B Lab certified Open Neighborhoods on July 20 after a months-long review process.
B Corporation-status marks the business as "particularly sustainable" in not only its products but its impact on the local community and the environment, said Jordan Chazin, a rating associate with B Lab.
About 430 companies have received the certification since 2007, Chazin said.
Given the rigor of B Lab’s certification process, which includes a 200-question self-assessment, Brennan said the news was exciting.
“We’re very happy to have received certification,” Brennan said. “We’ve been in the process for a while.”
That certification process—which required answering questions about recycling, energy use and charitable giving—also gave Brennan and his fellow Open Neighborhoods team members a few ideas for improving their operations in the future.
“Going forward, we are starting to adopt [those questions] into our own operations,” Brennan said.
Since its founding in 2008 by Brennan and fellow Mar Vista resident John Ayers, Open Neighborhoods has helped provide free wireless Internet to residents and, most recently, launched a , among other initiatives.
"We want to encourage clean energy goals at the neighborhood level," Brennan said.
The organization discovered B Corporation by reaching out to companies sharing its goals of environmental solutions and social equality, Brennan said.
“Honestly, [Open Neighborhoods is] in my mind, what a B Corp. should be,” said Chazin. “They are a really interesting blend of start-up, for-profit company, really driven ... a small, focused company that is doing social and environmental good.”
Chazin characterized Open Neighborhoods as a “social enterprise.” That is the work B Lab seeks to recognize, he said.
Nearby B Corporations include Hershey Cause and BeOn Holdings in Santa Monica.
Each company can display and benefit from B Corporation status in different ways, said Chazin. Vermont-based King Arthur Flour Co., for example, sells its wares in Whole Foods stores across the country. Each package has the B-Corp logo prominently placed on the packaging.
For Open Neighborhoods, a more service-based company, the logo will be appearing on its website and print materials, Brennan said. The business also expects to save money through service partnerships and has plans to be an advocate for the creation of more B Corporations down the line.
"We're hoping to introduce the idea to the community," Brennan said. "We hope more businesses will step in and do this."