Improved Environmental Transparency is Key to Green Purchasing and Labeling
SCS Global Services Presents Updated LCA Details at Key Conferences
Advanced methods for evaluating the cradle-to-grave environmental performance of products were presented by SCS Global Services (SCS) at two US conferences this week, offering a new level of environmental transparency to support green purchasing and ecolabeling efforts. SCS, an accredited third-party ecolabel certifier, life cycle assessment (LCA) practitioner, and member of the national committee standardizing these methods, described key developments at the GreenGov Symposium in Washington, DC, and the LCA XII Conference in Tacoma, Washington.
Among the advances presented are guidelines to ensure that all environmentally relevant impact categories are fully addressed, distinctive regional factors are incorporated, and results reflect real world impacts that are actually occurring. This added level of transparency is essential to ensure that sustainable sourcing efforts, supply chain management, and ecolabels reflect an accurate environmental picture, including unintended environmental trade-offs, and can stand up to independent stakeholder scrutiny.
"With this specificity, we are able to see with far greater granularity the true differences between similar products and materials,"Tobias Schultz, SCS LCA Practitioner, told the audience at the west coast LCA conference. "For instance, conventional LCA models cannot distinguish between lumber harvested from poorly managed, clear-cut forests and lumber derived from the most responsibly managed forests. Nor can they see the significant differences — often orders of magnitude apart – in other materials and product categories, such as steel and paper." The twelfth annual LCA conference, sponsored by the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment, provides a technical forum for practitioners and LCA users to consider developments in the field. In addition to the presentation by SCS, attendees were able to review the draft standard and sign up for participation in the open, consensus process at the Leonardo Academy booth.
During the GreenGov panel, "Leveraging Lifecycle Analysis & Costing," SCS Sustainability Manager Ashley Foster concluded: "Using this approach, public and private sector procurement managers can make better informed decisions to reduce environmental impacts throughout their supply chain." The SCS poster session provided further examples to demonstrate how added transparency is achieved. Co-hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), GreenGov brings together leaders from government, the private sector, non-profits and academia to discuss ways to incorporate sustainable practices into the federal government's operations, consistent with Executive Order 13514, signed by President Obama inOctober 2009.
The new standard, LEO-SCS-002, is being developed through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process, under the facilitation of the Leonardo Academy, a non-profit ANSI-accredited standards developer specializing in sustainability. Currently undergoing public comment, the standard aims to fulfill and augment key provisions of the international LCA standard, ISO-14044, by adding a new degree of specificity to the impact assessment phase of LCA, clarifying process steps to streamline data collection and analysis, and describing specific public labeling applications.
SCS Global Services has been providing global leadership in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing, and standards development for nearly 30 years, with programs spanning a wide cross-section of industries including green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, and retail. SCS are accredited to provide services under a wide range of nationally and internationally recognized certification programs. SCS is a chartered benefit corporation and Certified B Corp™, reflecting its commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices.