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Support Your Decisions with Solid Metrics

Sustainability Metrics and Benchmarking

The True Measure of Success

Sustainable management programs require credible, quantifiable metrics. However, with so many competing sustainability indicators and metrics in use, it can be hard to separate the science from the hype. This confusion impacts manufacturers and retailers who are trying to establish specifications for their supply chains, as well as suppliers who are trying to meet the competing and often conflicting requirements of their customers.

As a neutral third-party with extensive experience in the field of sustainability, SCS can help. We have taken an active role in driving the development of scientific metrics that are sufficiently comprehensive to accurately cover all relevant environmental and social issues, yet nuanced enough to identify tradeoffs to help you avoid unintended risks. These metrics are used in the public and private sectors to gauge sustainability success and return on investment, evaluate compliance with supply chain programs and regulations, and certify sustainability achievements.

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Stanley Mathuram, P.E.
Manager, Furniture Services

616.299.1073
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Stowe Beam
Managing Director, Enviornmental Certification Services

510.452.8009
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Environmental Improvement

The environmental metrics we recommend are based on today's most advanced life-cycle assessment (LCA), to give you accurate, scientifically credible information from which to make decisions. These metrics are populated with information that is readily available in most cases, providing the type of information that management, stakeholders, and customers are interested in seeing.

To measure your success on the path to sustainability, first evaluate your current impacts, then track improvements from the specific steps you undertake. This approach is particularly useful because all internal and supply chain improvements can be aggregated together under a universal set of reportable indicators. The following list, of environmental and human health impacts, now defined in LEO-SCS-002, an advanced LCA standard being finalized under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process, is a good place to start.

Resource Depletion
  • Energy Resource Depletion (Biotic/Abiotic)
  • Water Resource Depletion
  • Minerals and Metals Resource Depletion (by type)
  • Biobased Resource Depletion (by type)
Land Use Ecological Impact
  • Terrestrial Biome Disturbance
  • Fresh Water Biome Disturbance
  • Riparian/Wetland Biome Disturbance
  • Loss of Key Species (by species)
Impacts From GHG/Black Carbon Emissions
  • Global Climate Change
  • Arctic Climate Change
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Ocean Warming
Regional Environmental Impacts From Emissions
  • Regional Acidification
  • Stratospheric Ozone Depletion
  • Ecotoxicity
  • Eutrophication
Human Health Impacts From Emissions
  • Ground Level Ozone
  • PM 2.5
  • Toxic Emissions - Effects from Inhalation (Chronic, Non-Carcinogenic)
  • Toxic Emissions - Effects from Inhalation (Carcinogenic)
  • Indoor Air Toxic Emissions - Inhalation
  • Toxic Emissions - Effects from Ingestion (Chronic, Non- Carcinogenic)
  • Toxic Emissions - Effects from Ingestion (Carcinogenic)
Risks From Untreated Hazardous and Radioactive Waste
  • Risks from Radioactive Wastes
  • Risks from Hazardous Wastes (by type)

Social Responsibility

Social responsibility metrics address ethical treatment of workers as well as broader community engagement. SCS draws upon a wealth of experience in standards development and CSR program support to help companies identify auditable metrics used to evaluate progress toward objectives. Our approach addresses all issues described in ISO 26000, which though not a certification standard, provides useful guidance for ethical accountability metrics.

ISO 26000 principles: - Accountability - Transparency - Ethical behavior - Respect for stakeholder interests - Respect for the rule of law - Respect for international norms of behavior - Respect for human rights.

ISO 26000 core subjects: - Organizational governance - Human rights - Labor practices - The environment - Fair operating practices - Consumer issues - Community involvement and development.

Marketplace Claims

As marketing claims about sustainability have become increasingly common, so too have concerns about greenwashing. Sustainability claims are now everywhere, even though standards against which they can be measured are lacking. The US Federal Trade Commission has declined to set labeling guidelines for sustainability claims for the time being. Nor is the term addressed in the international ISO 14020 series of standards on environmental claims.

Claims should be made cautiously. Ideally, claims should only be made where recognized standards exist. At a minimum, all claims should be sufficiently comprehensive to address all key environmental and social issues, sufficiently transparent to demonstrate the basis for the claim, and validated.

We will help you sort through the complex issues associated with making marketplace claims, and can provide independent auditing, assessment, and certification where standards exist.

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