The Green Burial Council (GBC) is the friendly front door to the green burial industry. The GBC was founded in 2005 by Joe Sehee to ensure that consumers would be served by having verifiable standards for green funeral enterprises as the movement grew.

​For many years the GBC has offered certification programs for burial grounds, funeral homes, and products. Certification is awarded to providers that demonstrate compliance with the established Green Burial Council standards, designed to create sustainable practices in the funeral industry, and to preserve and steward land through burial.

In December the GBC announced a new credential for professionals: the Certificate of Proficiency in Green Burial Cemetery Operation.

About the Certificate of Proficiency in Green Burial Cemetery Operation

The Green Burial Council and Redesigning the End are partnering in providing a certificate of proficiency for qualifying students of the Green Burial Masterclass online course in green burial. This 12-part course is the first of its kind in the nation and gives students a high-end technical education in cemetery management specific to green burial. Obtaining the Certificate of Proficiency in Green Burial Cemetery Operation consists of two parts – successfully completing the Green Burial Masterclass and scoring well on the GBC’s Proficiency Exam.

​The Proficiency Exam

The GBC proficiency exam was created by the course developers and instructors, Holly Blue Hawkins and Lee Webster, and featuring more than 40 top experts in the green burial world sharing their expertise as guest lecturers. Not only will you advance your knowledge in the field, this distinction will allow you to show your community the commitment you make to the earth, even in death. 

After passing the Green Burial Masterclass, simply click on Become Certified to get started on the Proficiency Exam (available at the conclusion of the course). Here are some helpful tips before you do: Guide 2. By submitting the certificate fee ($150) and passing the assessment, you will earn a Certificate of Proficiency in Green Burial Cemetery Operations. Your contribution will be used to create and promote future educational opportunities for professionals and the community.

Why This is Important

The green burial movement is at an inflection point. Consumer demand outstrips supply of green burial options and one bottleneck is a lack of experienced leadership. Folks with the knowledge can’t provide day-to-day help for all of the teams that need it. Our goal for the certificate program is to develop the next generation of natural deathcare leaders through deep, technical education and mentorship.

More Facts About the Green Burial Council

  • There are two entities that make up the GBC: a certification 501(c)6, and an educational 501(c)3, all managed by volunteers (see intro to Board Members)
  • The certification wing engages independent, third-party experts to provide verification of standards for three types of cemeteries, funeral homes, and product manufacturers and distributors (see Our Standards)
  • The three types of cemeteries we certify are: hybrid, with an area within a conventional cemetery where burial occurs without a concrete vault, chemical embalming, and with a biodegradable container; natural, where all three elements are employed in a cemetery dedicated to natural burial; and conservation, where a land trust entity preserves land that is in part used for burial (see Green Burial Defined)
  • Please note that the total number of GBC-Certified cemeteries (see Cemeteries) and the total number of green burial cemeteries in the United States and Canada (see list here) is NOT the same thing 
  • Educational work entails research and development of original materials (see GBC Publications), designing and offering a green funeral course to inform professionals about environmentally responsible funeral service (see Green Funeral Course), a curated collection of written and video resources (see Text and Audio-Visual), and providing opportunities for public and professional engagement (see Outreach Tools and Speakers Bureau)

If you like what you see, consider learning more about the Green Burial Masterclass and register to begin learning from and alongside this accomplished group.