Design for Sustainability: A Practical Approach (Design for Social Responsibility)

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SCS Global Services is a long-respected certifier that backs its certifications with vigorous and transparent standards. A number of products with this certification meet indoor air quality, recycled content, and FSC chain-of-custody requirements within green building rating systems such as LEED.

Green Seal —is a third-party certification and labeling program that covers a wide range of products with sector-specific requirements, particularly consumable items for building operations. Green Seal considers the impacts of a product over its entire life cycle when developing a standard.

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Building products covered include paints, adhesives, lamps, electric chillers, windows, window films, and occupancy sensors. The program provides guidelines to help businesses implement the Cradle to Cradle framework, which focuses on using safe materials that can be disassembled and recycled as technical nutrients or composted as biological nutrients.

Unlike single-attribute eco-labels, the Cradle to Cradle Certified program takes a comprehensive approach to evaluating the design of a product and the practices employed in manufacturing the product. Green Squared —Certification was developed by TCNA, and involves one industry, one standard, and one mark and covers products used in a tile installation. As the first multi-attribute sustainability standard developed for tiles and tile installation materials, Green Squared uses the transparency and consensus of the ANSI process combined with third party certification to evaluate, validate, and communicate products which have a positive impact on the environment and society.

Green Squared covers product characteristics, manufacturing, end of product life management, progressive corporate governance, and innovation in an effort to establish sustainability criteria for products throughout their full life cycle. The easily-recognizable Green Squared mark helps architects, designers, and end users choose products and assured that the products they are choosing meet the industry's broad range of sustainability criteria.


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A new category and approach to identifying and declaring the manufacturing, production, ingredients and make up of a product is rapidly emerging. Whether it is an Environmental Product Declaration EPD , a Health Product Declaration HPD , a Declare Label , or the Living Product Challenge , there is a growing movement to seek full disclosure of a product within a life cycle framework and create a world of products that do no harm and improve the environment.

These labels are starting to be accepted or required within the various green building rating systems, although labels do not yet exist for all products. For example, in LEED there is an option within the Materials and Resources category to achieve a credit for transparency about the environmental impact of a product by utilizing an EPD.

The Declare label is in use within the Living Building Challenge to meet the stringent materials requirements. An Environmental Product Declaration EPD is an independently verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the life-cycle environmental impact of products. Their database currently contains more than EPDs registered by companies in 27 countries. Having an EPD for a product does not imply that the declared product is environmentally superior to alternatives. It is simply a transparent declaration of the life-cycle environmental impact.

An EPD may be used for many different applications, including green public procurement GPP and building assessment schemes. See: environdec. Designers, specifiers, and owners are increasingly seeking transparent information on the ingredients in building products, and their associated health hazards.

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Health Product Declarations HPD provide a full disclosure of the potential chemicals of concern in products by comparing product ingredients to a wide variety of "hazard" lists published by government authorities and scientific associations. The Health Product Declaration HPD Open Standard consists of a defined Format and Instructions for reporting about the contents of building products along with the associated health and other related information. Version 2. Human and environmental health considerations have emerged as a crucial factor in material selection.

Declare is a platform for manufacturers of ecologically sound products to demonstrate market leadership and secure a competitive advantage. Declare takes complex chemical analysis and raw material source location information and provides it to consumers in an elegant, easy to use 'nutrition label'. Declare gives manufacturers an expanded point of entry into the most groundbreaking restorative projects in the world.

Recensie(s)

Project teams pursuing the Living Building Challenge can use the Declare product database and label to select products that meet the Living Building Challenge's stringent materials requirements, streamlining the materials specification and certification process. Declare also meets the requirements of the proposed LEED v4 materials inventory and toxic chemical avoidance credit.

The Declare label is valid for a month period. After this period manufacturers must renew by paying a renewal fee and either confirming that the information contained within the Product Declaration Form has not changed or submitting a new form.

Sustainability and CSR

See: Living Future— Declare for more information. According to the International Living Future Institute, " The Living Product Challenge is a philosophy first, an advocacy tool second and a certification program third. It is intended to guide the manufacturing of thousands of things people are surrounded by on a daily basis, and to give direction and support to those who make the goods that are used.

It is a unified tool for transformative thought, allowing a future to be envisioned that is Socially Just, Culturally Rich and Ecologically Restorative. Petals are subdivided into a total of 20 Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence. This compilation of Imperatives can be applied to almost every conceivable product, of any size, manufactured in any location—be it a new innovation or a reinvention of an existing item.

JUST is a call to social justice action. It is not a verification or certification program. Rather, the program provides an innovative transparency platform for organizations to reveal much about their operations, including how they treat their employees and where they make financial and community investments. This approach requires reporting on a range of organization-and employee-related indicators. Each of the indicator metrics asks for simple yet specific and measurable accountabilities in order for the organization to be recognized at a One, Two, or Three Star Level, which is then summarized elegantly on a label.

Organizations can use the label on their website or marketing to demonstrate their commitments to these issues. JUST marks the beginning of a new era of corporate transparency. Both standards and product certifications will play a role in determining the level of sustainability or performance of a product.

However, each must be considered as part of a larger process, integrating them into the overall project goals to ensure the entire project is sustainable. Green building rating or certification systems broaden the focus beyond the product to consider the project as a whole. Rating systems are a type of building certification system that rates or rewards relative levels of compliance or performance with specific environmental goals and requirements.

Rating systems and certification systems are frequently used interchangeably. Green building rating and certification systems require an integrated design process to create projects that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance , renovation, and demolition. A few of these programs are single-attribute , focusing solely on water or energy, while others are multi-attribute addressing emissions, toxicity, and overall environmental performance in addition to water and energy. While the philosophy, approach, and certification method vary across these the systems, a common objective is that projects awarded or certified within these programs are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment.

Green building rating systems exist to address every project type from single-family houses and commercial buildings to entire neighborhoods.

There are rating systems available for new construction, which focus on decisions made in the planning and design process and actions taken through construction, as well as for existing buildings, which focus on operations and maintenance throughout the life of the building. A primary reason for the creation of rating systems is the need to more clearly define, implement, and measure green strategies and their outcomes and impacts. Federal, state, and municipal agencies across the country such as the General Services Administration GSA , Department of Energy , Department of Health and Human Services , and the Environmental Protection Agency , took an early lead in incorporating energy efficiency and sustainability by following green building guidelines in the design, construction, and renovation of Federal facilities.

Most states and many major cities have also incorporated green into their internal building requirements for new construction. A first-party assessment is one that comes directly from an organization that is associated with the entity making the claim or who may benefit from the claim. A second-party assessment is performed by an interested party such as a trade association. A third-party assessment is conducted by an independent party that has no financial interest or ties to the outcome of the assessment. According to RSMeans there are four principles that should be considered when evaluating a building rating or certification system:.

The reasons for pursuing a green building certification for a project are varied. Certification through any rating system provides verification of the green nature of the project, and can be a valuable educational and marketing tool for owners and design and construction teams through the process of creating a more sustainable building. Green building certification can also be a way to provide an incentive for clients, owners, designers, and users to develop and promote highly sustainable construction practices.

It is important to note that a building does not have to be certified to be sustainable and well-built. The guidelines within rating systems also help to clarify a market filled with "green" options. Rating systems also clearly outline what green standards need to be followed and what types of green products should be included in construction specifications.

Ultimately, the type of certification system pursued for a project depends upon that singular project; none of these certification systems are one-size-fits all. The dynamic nature of projects might prohibit one system but favor another. The choice is dependent upon the uniqueness of each project and the project needs and requirements such as the project location, size, budget, and overall project goals. Also comparing essential issues such as cost, ease of use, and building performance will help determine which building rating system is applicable and which certification level is possible.

Building rating and certification systems are in a state of change and evolution and continue to be refined to reflect new standards and goals for achieving ever higher levels of sustainability. So it is essential to investigate the most current versions of these programs to gain an understanding of particular requirements that must be met in order to achieve the best results.

There are a wide range of economic and environmental benefits to sustainable design, often achieved through the use of standards, rating, and certification systems.

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Many sustainable buildings have also seen increases of up to 6. Other benefits of green buildings, such as higher productivity and increased occupant health, have been attributed to better indoor environmental quality, increases in natural daylighting , and healthier materials and products within green buildings. The 12 GSA buildings were compared to industry standard performance of energy, water, maintenance and operations, waste, recycling, transportation, and occupant satisfaction metrics.

While these benefits are possible, it is important to note that they are dependent upon factors such as climate, topography, timing, credit synergies, and local building standards. The following table and the expanded information directly below it outlines several of the most commonly used and respected green building rating and certification systems in the U. Energy Star Rating System —is a rating system created by the U.

Please note that Energy Star also has a product certification program. See also Single-Attribute Product Certification above. This national survey, known as the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey CBECS , is conducted every four years, and gathers data on building characteristics and energy use from thousands of buildings across the United States. Your building's peer group of comparison are those buildings in the CBECS survey that have similar building and operating characteristics.


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To receive an Energy Star rating, a project's energy usage must be tracked with the online Portfolio Manager and receive a score of 75 or more.