Assembly Bill 32 and California’s Small Businesses

This page last reviewed February 3, 2014

ARB Climate Change Program Logo Small businesses play an important role in California’s economy as they represent some 3.4 million businesses and fifty-two percent of private-sector employment.  California small businesses also will play a critical role in reducing the impacts of climate change by contributing their share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions.  AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, requires a reduction of statewide greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. 

Growing Your Business in the Green Economy

FREE Workshop for Small Businesses!

As the lead agency implementing AB 32, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted the Scoping Plan which lays out the plan for California to achieve the necessary GHG reductions.  All sectors of California’s economy, public, private, and individuals, must do their part to reduce GHG emissions in order to protect our economy and preserve our environment.  There are many opportunities and benefits small businesses will enjoy by reducing their GHG emissions. These pages are dedicated to bringing the tools, resources, information, and assistance to California small businesses to achieve those GHG emission reductions.

Small Businesses Lead the Way

Read short descriptions of cost effective steps many small businesses all over the state have taken to save money and grow their businesses.


Given the importance of small businesses to California’s economy, a Small Business Toolkit  was designed to help business simultaneously reduce GHG emissions as well as their bottom line.  The Toolkit is a “one-stop shop” of guidance and resources that promote cost-effective, voluntary GHG emission reductions.  Toolkit components include specific climate-friendly actions to save money; information about where to find money to get started; California success stories; a business specific carbon footprint calculator; and a small business award program.  Stakeholder input was critical to Toolkit development.  Moving forward, Staff will continue to incorporate stakeholder suggestions and research results to increase the Toolkit’s effectiveness.

Benefits and Opportunities to Reducing Energy Use

Minimizing GHG emissions by reducing energy use will save money by lowering energy bills.  Reduced energy bills creates a more efficient organization that is beneficial in many ways including  outperforming competitors, being proactive with a planned strategy to reduce emissions rather than having to respond to potential requirements,  positioning your business to receive financial assistance, and taking advantage of marketing your “Green Business”.  And of course, you are doing something real to protect the environment in which you and your family, live, work, and play.

Where to Start To Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

As you can see, the benefits of reducing GHG emissions are numerous.  So, how do you get started?  One good place to start, is to conduct an Energy Audit to find out where you use the most energy.  Establishing an emissions baseline, using a carbon calculator, and ultimately, taking a few early actions to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions will get you well on your way to reducing your bottom line and protecting the environment.

Funding Assistance

Once you decide on taking action to reduce your GHG emissions, it is important to know where you can get financial assistance to help pay for the work.  While some actions are very easy, simple, and low cost steps to take, other efforts will require up front investment.   Your local utility is always a good place to start, and they may offer On-bill financingRebates and incentives, and venture capital funds should also be considered.  Also, the California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) encourages banks to make loans to small businesses.

Success Stories and Case Studies

It is always helpful to see that others have already successfully reduced their emissions and have improved their bottom line by those same actions.  Suggestions for specific types of small businesses can be found at Energy Star for Small Business.   California Case studies will provide some examples of successful efforts and U.S. EPA’s Climate Leaders lists companies that have developed comprehensive climate change strategies.  In addition, The California Clean Tech Open is an organization of leading entrepreneurs, academics, investors and companies, working together to accelerate the development of clean technology startups.  In addition, Best Practices are provided by the California Climate Action Network.

Green Business Certification Programs

Once you have experienced first-hand the environmental and economic benefits of reducing your carbon footprint, you may want to go further and become a certified Green Business.  There are several sources of information and programs to learn about and/or get certified, including Scientific Certification Systems, Green Seal, Sacramento County's Business Environmental Resource Center (BERC) , the Bay Area Green Business Program, and finally, Sacramento State – Office of Continuing Education - Green Business Operations Certificate Program.

Related Research and Reports

For questions or comments, please contact Ombudsman at (916) 323-6791 or toll free at 800-272-4572

Para asistencia en Espanol, llame (916) 324-1503