[From the April 2014 issue of the UC IPM Green Bulletin newsletter]
Many consumers are asking for environmentally-friendly services when they hire companies to manage pests in and around their homes. Likewise, a number of California municipalities, institutions, and school systems are requiring pest management contractors to provide evidence of an IPM certification or to follow specific IPM practices. At the same time, advocacy groups such as “GotAnts? Get S.E.R.I.O.U.S.” http://www.gotantsgetserious.org/ are encouraging consumers to request IPM certified services; and regulatory agencies such as the
What is IPM certification?
IPM certification programs verify that PMPs are using the key steps in an IPM program: pest identification, pest monitoring, preventive tactics, nonchemical tactics, and the use of pesticides only after an intolerable pest population has been confirmed. When pesticides are necessary, effective products that are safest for the environment and community are chosen. Each of the current IPM certification programs require field audits to assure that IPM standards are being met and that records for each site are being maintained.
How can your company get certified?
Getting certified can help increase your business and bring in new customers. Three certification programs are available to structural PMPs in California: GreenPro, Green Shield, and EcoWise. Each has somewhat different requirements. There are no IPM certification programs for landscape pest management professionals, although holistic programs such as Bay Friendly Landscaping and Green Gardener include IPM within their guiding principles. If you are already certified, make sure to advertise this option and let your customers know how to request the IPM certified option.
GreenPro. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA)'s GreenPro, part of the larger QualityPro program, is the largest IPM certifier in the country. This program certifies companies rather than individuals, but each company must have at least one employee who has gone through the training program and all employees who sell or provide the GreenPro service must pass an online exam.
GreenPro service requires inspections and monitoring before any management practices are implemented, and companies must initiate preventive practices such as removal of food, water, habitat, or access to buildings before moving to use of pesticides. Pesticides are never applied on a predetermined schedule. If monitoring indicates that pesticides are required, the most environmentally sound ones are chosen in consultation with the customer. Companies must keep careful records of all services at GreenPro sites and expect to be audited. QualityPro membership, a prerequisite for GreenPro membership, requires additional service quality benchmarks and an application fee. http://www.npmagreenpro.org/
Green Shield Certified. Operated by the IPM Institute of North America, Green Shield Certified currently has three companies providing its services in California. Green Shield Certified standards are similar to GreenPro; however, this program provides a list of approved pesticides to service providers. Green Shield also certifies facilities such as schools, health care facilities, or public buildings maintained by Green Shield certified companies.
Certification, which may take 6 weeks to 6 months, is carried out by the IPM Institute via inspections of facilities or service providers' business and pest management practices. Certifiers provide recommendations of what changes would be required to meet Green Shield standards. Follow-up evaluations determine when standards have been met. Most providers take 6 weeks to 6 months to become certified. Afterwards, there is an emphasis on documentation and continuous improvement. Companies can choose to certify their entire business or single services, such as ant management. Certification must be renewed annually, with a fee, and on-site re-evaluation is required every 3 years. http://www.greenshieldcertified.org
EcoWise Certified. EcoWise Certified started as a project of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and is now a project of the Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC). EcoWise certifies both individuals and companies that provide EcoWise Service. Currently, only California PMPs and companies can be certified. Individuals can be certified by taking an online course, followed by demonstrating IPM proficiency through an online exam or by meeting specified educational requirements defined by EcoWise Standards. Only Branch 2 Field Representatives or Operators can be certified.
Companies can have their EcoWise Service certified by following all the requirements listed in the EcoWise Standards. Each branch that provides EcoWise Certified Service must have a certified PMP, an approved IPM toolbox, and an office and field evaluation. Part of the evaluation includes a review of a total of 10 IPM service visits covering at least three different sites.
Ecowise Certified provides a study guide for PMPs wishing to take the exam, EcoWise Standards, and an EcoWise Handbook. EcoWise certification is only available for general pest management services (SPCB Branch 2 licenses). Recertification, for individuals and companies alike, is required every 3 years.
EcoWise Certified operations are supported by fees for individual certification and for certification of an EcoWise service at each company branch office.
This article was originally published in the April 2014 issue of the UC IPM Green Bulletin. See this and other articles at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/greenbulletin/index.html./span>