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Standards Briefing: GRI, GSA, Green Seal, Whole Foods

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has announced that development is now underway on G4, the next generation of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. GRI says that G4 should improve on content in current G3 and G3.1 guidelines, with strengthened technical definitions and improved clarity. GRI is asking for feedback from businesses and the public, to help inform the new guidelines. This includes a “call for sustainability reporting topics”, to collect input on what new issues should be covered in G4. The first comment period is planned for 90 days starting in August, with registrations and the call for topics opening on May 16. In November GRI will begin recruiting members for working groups, which will develop a first draft of G4 to be available for public comment in 2012. The final draft will be ready for approval by GRI’s governance bodies in late 2012, before the planned launch in May 2013, GRI said.

The General Services Administration (GSA), the purchasing arm of the U.S. government, now requires NSF/ANSI 140 Gold level certification for all wall-to-wall and tile carpet, Sustainable Facility reports. Current GSA carpet suppliers have until January 1, 2012 to certify their products to Gold level. GSA has said that 95 percent of its purchases must meet sustainability requirements by the end of this year, Sustainable Facility reports. The agency will announce more specific requirements throughout 2011.

Green Seal is introducing GS-50, which it calls the first standard to cover the whole lifecycle of personal care and cosmetic products. The standard establishes environmental, health, and performance requirements for products intended to be left on the body and hair, including lotions, hair spray and styling products, sunscreen, nail polish, insect repellent, makeup, antiperspirant and deodorant. The evaluation process includes data reviews; labeling, marketing and promotional material assessment; and on-site audits of manufacturing facilities, as well as annual monitoring.  To be certified, manufacturers will also have to provide definitions for common claims such as “natural,” “organic” and “biobased”. Green Seal already offers GS-44, a standard for soaps and shower products.

The Toronto-based EcoLogo Program has released a revised standard for biologically-based cleaning and degreasing compounds, and is including household cleaners in the standard for the first time. EcoLogo says that unlike conventional cleaners, biologically-based cleaning and degreasing compounds contain microbial cultures that promote digestion of hydrocarbons, organic contaminants and other undesirable substances. The bio-based cleaners standard addresses issues including toxicity to aquatic and mammalian life, biodegradation, performance in the presence of soil, risk for promoting microbial resistance, product labeling and packaging, restricted ingredients and human health issues.

Whole Foods has launched its own rating system for cleaning products it sells, and is establishing standards for personal care products such as shampoo, Reuters and Sustainable Business report. The chain’s Eco-Scale Rating System for cleaning products will use a color-coded rating system to evaluate the environmental performance and sourcing of each item. Whole Foods says it will work with vendors to independently audit every cleaning product it carries. Starting on Earth Day 2012, cleaning products will have to meet at least the “orange standard” to be carried at Whole Foods, and products will have to list all ingredients on product packaging. The orange standard precludes phosphates, chlorine, artificial colors, animal testing and preservatives that can release formaldehyde. By June 1, personal care products labeled “organic” must carry either the USDA certified organic or NSF/ANSI 305 label, in order to be sold at Whole Foods.

The Green Advantage personnel certification program has been approved as an innovation credit for more projects seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, TMCnet says. The credits can now be used on construction projects registered under LEED-NC v2.2 and LEED 2009 for building design and construction. They were already approved for LEED-NC v2.0 and v2.1.

The non-profit OpenADR Alliance says it is making significant progress in its goal to certify interoperable demand response products through a smart grid standard, known as Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR), by the end of this year. Membership in the alliance in the past six months has grown from four to 31 organizations, including EnerNOC, Ingersoll Rand-Trane, Johnson Controls and Siemens, in addition to founder members Honeywell, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. The alliance also recently issued two requests for proposals, for the development of a tool allowing companies to test OpenADR 2.0-compliant products, and for test labs to provide conformity and interoperability testing and certification for those products. This work will help the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to deploy interoperable smart grid standards, the alliance said.

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