Tag Archives: certifications

Sustainability Certifications and Reporting Tools: an overview

What follows is a great article published a while ago by CarbonPig that we suggest to all of you who are searching for a detailed list of the most important sustainability Certification Programs and sustainability Reporting Tools.
Obviously these are not the only ones available worldwide, but as correctly stated by Carbon Pig “(the listed certifications programs ) have had considerable traction in a variety of sectors including, green buildings, general sustainability reporting, etc“.

The Global Reporting Initiative

The Global Reporting Initiative was created through the work of thousands of individual stakeholders internationally who seek to establish the number one sustainability certification program in the world. Their work has culminated in what is called the GRI Reporting Framework, which is currently released as Version 3.0, and is accordingly referred to as the G3 by those familiar with the framework used in sustainability reporting protocol.

The G3 Sustainability Reporting Framework focuses on key aspects of institutional sustainability and can be used by all types of organizations including private sector companies, governmental bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and non-profits. The reporting framework is organized around three main areas and includes 79 individual sustainability performance indicators. The main topic areas covered by the sustainability certification program are economic, social, and environmental.

In addition to the framework that all organizations must used, there are a number of sector-specific supplements including:

  • Electric Utilities
  • Financial Services
  • Food Processing
  • Mining and Metals
  • NGO
  • Airport Operators
  • Construction and Real Estate
  • Event Organizers
  • Media
  • Oil and Gas
  • Automotive
  • Logistics and Transportation
  • Public Agency
  • Telecommunications
  • Apparel and Footwear

Overall, the GRI is a very robust and well run sustainability reporting protocol for organizations wishing to disclose their sustainability performance. In fact, more than 1,700 organizations reported on their sustainability using the G3 in 2010. You can download a comprehensive list here  for all years. The reporting organizations include some big names like 3M, Clorox, Hitachi, Nestle, Siemens, and Xerox and there are sustainability reports available for them all.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative

The World Resources Institute and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development  jointly released the Greenhouse Gas Protocols  in 1998, that have since become the standard protocol for greenhouse gas accounting internationally. This sustainability reporting protocol used to measure greenhouse gas emissions is often a prerequisite for other sustainability certification programs.

When large institutions, governments, and companies need to measure their “carbon footprint”, they turn to this widely used two-phase methodology. Most organizations measure their scope I and scope II greenhouse gas emissions using this protocol and then, in the second phase, have their “greenhouse gas inventory” verified by a third party organization who provides oversight that the protocols were followed correctly and that the overall estimate is within 5% of the true value.

Product Life Cyle Accounting and Reporting Standard for Sustainable Product Certification

This “standard” is a recent addition to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative and allows companies to measure the carbon footprint of individual products, thereby serving as a sustainable product certification. It is currently in a draft phase. Remember that you learned about this sustainability reporting protocol on CarbonPig because it finally creates a way for organizations to account for their scope III emissions.
 

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System

The LEED green building certification system is focused on third party sustainability certification of buildings based on the LEED protocols contained in various manuals. The sustainability certification program is a consensus-based program drawing on the work of many stakeholders, industry leaders, and a dedicated staff. The system is currently in version III and covers the following general development types:

  • New Construction
  • Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
  • Commercial Interiors
  • Core & Shell
  • Schools
  • Retail
  • Healthcare
  • Homes
  • Neighborhood Development

For each of these categories there is a considerable amount of documentation that must be provided in order to meet the LEED Sustainability Certification Program requirements. Project managers typically turn to LEED consultants to help give input during a project and help meet the sustainability certification program requirments for the given new or existing building, hospital, school, and more.

This sustainability certification program is by far one of the most advanced and comprehensive, although, many Europeans, who consider their government run sustainability performance targets to be more stringent and yield higher performing buildings, would disagree.

Forest Stewardship Council Sustainable Forest Certification
You may recognize the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) label from everyday objects like reams of office paper and furniture boxes. The FSC sustainable forest certification indicates that the forests used to make the product are sustainably managed. This sustainability reporting protocol helps consumers to make better choices about what forests internationally will be harmed.

The FSC sustainable forest certification is one of the most well established sustainability certification systems internationally. They have a very useful database where users cansearch for FSC certified products and vendors.

The FSC mark on product is a very useful tool for consumers trying to decide between sustainable product certifications on their purchases.

Carbonfree® Product Certification
CarbonFund offers a sustainable product certification that allows manufacturers to offset the greenhouse gas emissions created during the manufacturing process by purchasing carbon offsets from CarbonFund.org’s portfolio of renewable energy projects.

For each product that is certified, CarbonFund calculates the carbon footprint of the product and/or the life-cycle of the product using a methodology similar to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative.

Green Seal Certified

Green Seal is a common household sustainable products certification program that started in the late 1980’s. The program supports 30 standards and covers more than 190 different product and service areas.

Green Seal bases their claims on life cycle assessment research and has a robust multi-stakeholder approach geared towards constant improvement. Green Seal has a sliding scale based on the revenue of organizations that determines the annual costs of maintaining the Green Seal.

The sustainable product certification provided by Grean Seal is a specific and targeted program. For example, categories like paints, household cleaners, occupancy sensors, and more are included within the sustainability standards.

Recently Grean Seal created a program for certifying organizations that could prove interesting. Especially their pilot program specifically targeting the sustainability of product manufacturers.

USDA National Organic Program

The USDA National Organic Program is essentially an agricultural sustainable product certification is one of hundreds of organic certifications globally.

The USDA program is a very heavily used framework used by agricultural producers to certify the products that they’re sending to market. In the U.S. market, this organic certification generally creates a hight price point for the item attached to it.

It is likely that this certification measure, although relatively easy to adhere to, will become more entrenched as the prominent organic logo found in supermarkets across the United States that are stocking sustainably certified food.

A greener wine for happier wine connaisseurs

Vinitaly 2011 ended with excellent results, an increase of 10% in visitors confirmed once again that good wine never goes out of fashion. Good wines, not only for the undisputed quality of the products, but also because of its being good for the environment and  for the community. The bio wine, produced by following the precepts of organic agriculture, with no sulfur and, above all, free of chemical residues and pesticides, is not new thing on the market.
But what is innovative is that sustainability in the wine industry is becoming more and more popular and required by wine consumers. A recent WineNews / Vinitaly survey showed that “green” labelled wine, the one ensuring the environmental commitment of the winery, would be an added value for 55% of the interviewed. The survey results were collected in a sort of handbook of the sustainable wine drinking, whose must are: locally grown wine, organic and biodynamic viticulture, ISO 14001 or EMAS certified wineries, lighter bottles, recycled paper labels, use of recycled or recyclable packaging, low-impact in terms of carbon footprint of production.
There are several Italian producers who understand the importance of sustainability to adequately respond to consumer demands. Zonin for instance, is already eliminating herbicides, fertilizers and chemical treatments, using only those permitted by the organic or biodynamic agriculture. “Approaching a more sustainable production also requires us to use a more precise viticulture, an aspect that we can no longer overlook in the vineyards where we bring this new philosophy. A lot of attention is paid to the fertility of the soil which must not only be maintained but improved over time without the use of chemicals, “says Franco Giacosa, technical director of the Zonin company in Gambellara (Vicenza, Italy).
It is not a suprise to find the Zonin name amont the list of the 73 Italian companies participating to the Bayer CropScience Magis project  for social and economic sustainability in the wine industry: from Caviro to Planeta,  Barone Ricasoli and Castello Banfi, to name some of the companies appearing in the Magis list. The aim of the Magis project is to provide companies with a common objective and measurable parameters and elements of communication to meet the demands of industry and consumers in terms of sustainability.
Obviously, the added value of a wine produced accordingly to the Magis criteria, will be lost if the supply chain and bars, restaurants and hotels do not abide to the same sustainable and responsible criteria. And this is what the ECOFFEE project is working at!