ISSP Certification is a new professional development program for sustainability practitioners worldwide.
This program was developed by the International Society of Sustainability Practitioners (ISSP). After several years of research and analysis, ISSP’s professional sustainability certification launched in 2016.
In the span of one year, more than 200 professionals from around the world passed the ISSP Certification exams and now advertise their expertise with an ISSP-SA or ISSP-CSP acronym after their name. While this number may seem low to some, we see ISSP Certification as being on the verge of exploding over the next few years.
Everblue was one of the first exam prep providers for the LEED credentialing exams in 2008 and has since witnessed its massive growth in popularity. Given that ISSP Certification appeals to a broader demographic and range of topics, we expect to see the same growth.
But it’s not just its broad nature that sets ISSP Certification apart from other sustainability programs. Let’s take a look at six key reasons why ISSP Certification is here to stay.
1 - Very Active Membership
Formed in 2007, ISSP boasts nearly 1,000 members from all regions of the world. These individuals are passionate about moving the profession of sustainability forward through building strong networks and communities of practice.
ISSP’s active membership is evident through course and webinar participation, salary surveys, networking events, and more. In fact, when ISSP beta tested its professional sustainability certification program, the exams were limited to ISSP members only. Thus, the first individuals in the world with ISSP certification were ISSP members. Now the exams are open to anyone, but there is a discount for ISSP members.
Canadian Matt Beck said:
“As a sustainability practitioner in a large enterprise, membership with ISSP has been invaluable to me. I am greatly looking forward to further dialogue with my fellow ISSP members over the coming years.”
ISSP also offers membership to for-profit and non-profit organizations. Some of those organizational members include: American Sustainable Business Council, Cisco, Eco-officiency, EcoSTEPS, Ethical Markets Media, Regenerativa, Sustainability Resources, Sustainable Business Consulting, Sustainable Solutions Corp, SusainAsia Ltd, and the Natural Step International.
2 - Regional Chapters
ISSP members are enthusiastic about connecting with like-minded sustainability advocates. They have formed regional chapters across the globe in order to meet and network with other sustainability professionals.
Current chapter locations include:
Chapters in progress include:
To form a local chapter, at least 10 ISSP members must gather to gauge interest. Formal and informal chapters are able to use the ISSP name/logo and access ISSP expertise and logistical support.
3 - Education Partners
ISSP developed its Education Partners program to recognize organizations like Everblue that provide existing and aspiring sustainability professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to meet existing and future challenges as they work to make sustainability standard practice around the world.
Specifically, Everblue has leveraged its ISSP Education Partner status to create a short-course training program designed to help individuals prepare for the ISSP Sustainability Associate exam.
During this program, participants will learn about global and local economic trends and issues that are driving sustainability. Some of these events include the Brundtland Commission, Kyoto Protocol, Agenda 21, Triple Bottom Line, and Life Cycle Assessment. We also focus on implementing a corporate sustainability strategy and calculating greenhouse gases.
Led by our ISSP-certified instructors, we’re excited to standardize not only sustainability as a profession but ISSP Certification as a respected sustainability certification.
4 - Guidance from GBCI
When ISSP was in the process of structuring its professional sustainability certificaton program, the organization consulted a variety of sources. One such resource was Elisa Khan, the director of credentialing at the Green Business Certification Institute (GBCI).
GBCI’s international claim-to-fame is its management of the LEED Certification and LEED Accreditation programs. LEED is the leading credentialing program for green building professionals. Elisa is responsible for the deveropment, maintenance, and delivery of the LEED credentialing exams.
Perhaps you've heard of LEED...?
As can be expected, the ISSP certification program has evolved over the years, but just about one thing has remained constant, and it’s something that GBCI may have encouraged. ISSP offers two levels of certification: ISSP Sustainability Associate and ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional. Candidates are required to take and pass the ISSP Sustainability Associate exam before they can take the ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional exam. This is very much like LEED, where candidates must pass the LEED Green Associate exam before they can become a LEED AP with a Specialty.
We also know that ISSP has consulted GBCI on its testing process. As of the writing of this posting, it appears as though ISSP has gone in a different direction from GBCI, though I suspect this is due to ISSP’s preference for the exams to be as accessible as possible to individuals all over the world. Thus, ISSP opted for a test-proctoring system that is available in live computer lab locations and via remote online proctoring.
At the end of the day, ISSP has a strong ally in GBCI. Maureen Hart, ISSP's executive director, has indicated that the ISSP certification program is not meant to be duplicative of GBCI’s efforts in green building. Although the concepts seem similar at first glance, the two organizations focus on different aspects of “greening” the workplace. Therefore, these allies can work together, feed off one another, and support each other’s goals.
5 - Aligned with ISO 17024 Standard
ISSP’s professional sustainability certification program has been developed in accordance with the internationally recognized ISO 17024 standard. This standard offers general requirements for bodies operating professional certification of persons – that is, a guide to delivering a consistent, comparable, and reliable certification program worldwide.
ISSP has taken this step to ensure that its certification program will provide a global benchmark for sustainability professionals and provide industry-recognized credentials that can be carried across national borders.
ISSP Certification is not a fly-by-night program that will be here today and gone tomorrow, nor is it simply a certificate stating that you completed a course. The ISSP credentialing program offers a legitimate process for sustainability practitioners to provide cohesion to the growing profession of sustainability. This is, of course, validated through the passing of an ISSP exam. As mentioned above, ISSP conducted several rounds of beta testing on its exam process to likewise ensure its credibility and reliability.
6 – Board Members & Management Team
ISSP operates under a set of by-laws maintained by a board of directors. The board is comprised of an international group of sustainability professionals who provide guidance and insight to ISSP. Each year, the board elects a slate of officers with an eye toward creating even more value for sustainability professionals worldwide.
The ISSP website provides thorough biographies of the ISSP board members.
The management team is responsible for day-to-day operations of ISSP. As the ISSP sustainability certification grows, we anticipate that the number of ISSP staff members will also increase.
With active membership, education partners, international presence, ISO accreditation, by-laws, board members, and staff, ISSP is poised for success in the coming years. All of the structure and passion is there.
Although ISSP has been around since 2007, now is the best time to join this growing movement. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still fairly early, and there are numerous benefits to be had. If you’re serious about sustainability, visit the ISSP website to become a member or enroll in an ISSP Sustainability Associate training course today.