The US Green Building Council’s LEED v4 rating system, approved earlier this month by member voters, includes the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products program.
The Cradle to Cradle program is a circular economy system in which manufacturers and designers create products with technical materials that can be used in continuous cycles or biological ones that can be disposed of in any natural environment and decompose into the soil.
LEED v4 will take effect in November. Its endorsement of Cradle to Cradle Certified products shows the USGBC’s deepening commitment to material health and improving the impacts of buildings on the well-being of humans and the environment, says architect William McDonough, who co-developed the certification program.
Many of McDonough’s architectural projects predate LEED, including the Adam Joseph Lewis Center at Oberlin College — a building that harvests more energy than it uses, cleanses its own water, and produces food.
McDonough started his McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry firm in 1995, two years after the founding of USGBC, with the design and creation of the William McDonough Portfolio Collection for the Designtex brand of Steelcase, the world’s largest furniture manufacturer. The safe, high-tech, compostable textile — Climatex Lifecycle by Rohner Textile AG — later became one of the first Cradle to Cradle Certified products.
Since then, MBDC has continued to work with product manufacturers such as Herman Miller, Steelcase and Construction Specialties, which have also been longtime leaders in the green building movement and key partners in advancing Cradle to Cradle thinking in the industry, McDonough says.
Shaw Industries Group, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, has also pioneered Cradle to Cradle certification. A decade ago, Shaw designed the world’s first Cradle to Cradle flooring product, says Paul Murray, Shaw vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs at Shaw. Now more than 60 percent of Shaw’s sales are from Cradle to Cradle Certified products, he says, adding that the company has set a goal to design all of its products to Cradle-to-Cradle protocols by 2030.
Last month McDonough and Waste Management launched a sustainable product and package design company to reduce consumer goods’ waste impact. The Waste Management McDonough Sustainable Innovation Collaborative aims to help producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers improve the recyclability of their products and packaging. It will also help businesses advance their sustainability objectives and measure results, the partners say.