Singular Product Claims Have Evolved into the Broader Green Initiatives of Today

Posted on 1/6/2014 2:55:21 PM By Bob Braun

In my last post, I reviewed how formulators can employ green chemistry and still achieve the best sustainability results for the building overall.  In this post, I will focus on the evolution of the green initiatives of the last decade.

The emphasis on environmentally friendly building solutions has been an ongoing process now for many years.  Consumers are now familiar with many product label claims such as: No CFC's, Biodegradable, Saves Energy, and Environmentally Friendly.  As the news media began to discuss these issues more and more, the purchasing companies and the consumer began to believe that they understood what to purchase and why and feel good about it.  However, very often there were no standards in existence related to these many claims.  Exaggerations occurred.  There was, at times, a race by product manufacturers to incorporate the most popular claims on labels.

Today, the discussion has become much broader and continues to do so more and more almost every year.  Singular claims are no longer the norm especially amongst the sophisticated consumer.  The term “sustainability” has now entered the landscape, although it is perhaps not yet completely understood.  But the idea is to incorporate all of the green features inherent in the use of a building product.  If this product evaluation is done well, then the goal of assigning the proper sustainability value will be achieved. 

The various green associations have become leaders in this process.  The USGBC has achieved the most recognition by the building community through its LEED program.  The LEED program has created (in conjunction with other associations) a platform that establishes standards for what is “greenest”.  The use of standards is now in-play.  In 2008, ASTM created the new Committee E60 on Sustainability to specifically involve the technical community in developing consensus sustainability test methods, specifications, guides, and practices.  Many have complained that they disagree with the quality or even more so with the use of the green standards up to this point (I am included in this group).  In previous posts, I elaborated on the many issues with the existing programs that create the sustainability standards.  However, the process has begun and now it is even accelerating as more and more associations and companies get involved, come to the table, and provide their input, product data, and building studies.  I know that many companies are now working actively in this arena and have established technical lead representatives to network with the many ongoing sustainability efforts.  Thus, the quality of what is really “green” and therefore the most sustainable buildings will certainly improve going forward.

I encourage readers to get involved in this process (if they have not already done so).  Join ASTM @, ASC @, or any of the many associations now involved and argue to improve the existing standards that you see as less than appropriate.  And, help provide better input data that will help make buildings even more sustainable.  

In future posts, I will preview the upcoming Jan 26-28 ASTM meeting in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.

Anything you'd like to see in the future on any topic?  Questions I can answer?  Post a comment below and I'll respond.

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