What is Green or Sustainable?

January 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm Leave a comment

With the beginning of a new year I thought it might be a good time to revisit the basics of some of the terms we more often hear everyday.  Those terms are “green building” and “sustainable”, what do they really mean?

I have already made a stab at this with my Green Dictionary page (https://askthefm.wordpress.com/a-green-dictionary-terms-you-need-to-know-about/) and I still think it is pretty good.  However I have come across a couple of articles that certainly provide some well thought out ideas on the subject.

First is an article at The Green Coder (http://thegreendecoder.blogspot.com/2009/01/define-your-shade-introduction.html) where he begins a series on just what he thinks green building means.

Excerpt: “ When discussing this topic with consumers, the definitions are varied. Some say it is merely energy efficiency. Others think of high tech energy systems with plants on the roof and waterless toilets. A rare few think the whole thing is a hoax to charge more, which is rather ludicrous given the current market and the state of the economy. At the end of the day, it still begs the question: What is green building?

Second we have an article at Greenbiz.com (http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2009/01/05/defining-sustainability) that makes a great try at defining sustainability.

Excerpt: ” There are scores of different terms for something that many of us refer to as sustainability. These terms include corporate responsibility, sustainable development, corporate citizenship, environmental sustainability, corporate sustainability and green business. For these terms, there are literally hundreds of different definitions.

Next we have the yearly round up on Sustainablebusiness.com (http://dev.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/17411) listing the attempts by the state governments to legislate green and sustainable behavior.

Lastly it seems that Underwriter’s Laboratories is jumping on the bandwagon and coming out with a green certification process.  The story is here on Treehugger.com ( http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/ul-labels-for-green.php).  I have to agree with the author on this one in that while UL has always been a rock solid standard that you could trust, it is also incredibly expensive and time consuming from a manufacturer’s point to get.  Also from the article it seems that they are thinking of providing a compromise method that plain sounds fishy to me.

Excerpt: ” But such testing is time-consuming and yes, expensive. In certain industries, like construction materials or with electrical appliances subject to the building or electrical codes that demand UL certification or its international equivalents, it has been accused of impeding innovation and change.

So they will also be starting an Environmental Claims Validation (ECV) program, where manufacturers can verify claims made by manufacturers. According to UL’s press release,

These claims are often subject to greenwashing: exaggeration, distortion, or lying. “If the customer comes to UL and says, ‘This is what the advertising says about our product,’ that is what we’ll test,” explained [Marcello] Manca. [VP at UL] Relevant claims include energy efficiency, recycled-content levels, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, and avoidance of banned substances.
Referring to Federal Trade Commission guidance for environmental marketing claims, UL will determine what tests it must perform to validate a given claim and will carry them out. If a claim is validated, it will publish the results in an open database. “We like to think the end point will be certification to industry standards,” said Manca, noting that he considers ECV a “bridge to certification.”

Let me know what you think about this as well as UL has been known to modify it plans based on public comment.

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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Entry filed under: Environment. Tags: , , .

Green Resolutions for the New Year Solar Power Update for January 6, 2009

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