ULE 880: A New Year’s Report

Today marks another significant milestone in the development of ULE 880 – Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations, the company-level standard we’ve been developing in partnership with UL Environment. Indeed, a great deal has been going on behind the scenes the past few months, so it’s time for an update.

First, a brief refresher. For more than a year, my team at GreenBiz Group has been engaged with UL Environment to develop and commercialize a company-level standard for sustainability — that is, environmental, social, and corporate governance issues — to be used as a tool for companies, government agencies, and other stakeholders. (I’ve previously provided a history of the project here.)
Last July, we released a draft of the standard for public comment. More than 700 individuals — representing companies, nonprofits, government entities, consultants, trade associations and concerned citizens — registered to review the draft. A subset of them submitted more than 1,500 individual comments on specific segments and indicators in the standard. Both numbers represent record stakeholder engagement in Underwriters Laboratories’ 116-year history.

In November, we convened a subset of stakeholders — roughly 20 representatives of major companies, accounting firms, consultancies, advocacy groups, and government agencies — to provide input to address some of the reviewers’ more challenging comments — ones where there was a wide range of conflicting opinion, for example. And at every step, the ULE-GreenBiz team waded through the feedback, making anything from minor tweaks to major adjustments along the way.

The fruits of those labors are being published today: ULE ISR 880. ISR stands for “Interim Sustainability Requirements,” part of the argot of UL’s standard-making process. If this were software, it would be the pre-release version.

The ISR will be used to pilot the standard with a small group of companies, which we’ll be announcing in the next couple months, and is also being made public for another round of comment. With the combination of additional comments and real-world piloting, the UL Environment-GreenBiz team will finish a final revision and issue the final ULE 880 standard this summer.