Recently, three thought leaders in sustainable design discussed green products. The American Society of Landscape Architects' blog "The Dirt", reports on the conversation.
How should ”green” values in building construction products be measured – should firms look at the carbon miles traveled by product components, or total GHG emissions? How should green be defined — is it about energy efficient manufacturing processes, or eliminating toxicity? How do we avoid green washing? These questions were asked in the National Building Museum’s latest For the Greener Good lecture on “Greening the Supply Chain.”Although the conversation was by no means definitive, all three agreed that certification and regulation are needed to help designers and consumers easily and confidently identify green products. Disclosure by manufacturers also received emphasis.
Kirsten Richie, Director of Sustainability, Gensler, Nadav Malin, President, BuildingGreen and Gwen Davidow, Director, Corporate Programs, World Environment Center, all provided their thoughts, while Ken Langer, President, Architectural Energy Corporation, moderated the event.
Richie: Our goal is to ensure every building product is green, so you won’t even need to examine the details. You’ll just know. However, this doesn’t exist yet.The most important thing to notice is that the people in the conversation are in a position to make their opinions become reality. Their advocacy for environmental declaration standards, legislation, and life cycle assessments carry real weight, because they represent owners, designers, and industry publications. Together, they're moving markets.
A big building project can include 10,000 line items. We can’t check the environmental impact details on every product. We need shortcuts — products need to be certified against standards. You should be able to buy a certain brand and know you are getting a sustainable product.
Davidow: Green needs to be a part of the product. It can’t be a niche product offered among others. Green needs to be embedded into the product. ... Green base lines in products will need to be regulated and certified if we are going to reach green product ubiquity.
Malin: There should be green labeling in construction projects. 3rd party certification is needed. Labels equal regulation.