LG, Intuit, Igefa Pilot New UL 880 Sustainability Standard

LG, Intuit, Igefa Pilot New UL 880 Sustainability Standard

Check the box image via Shutterstock

LG Electronics, Intuit and igefa are the first companies to sign on to a new auditable global standard from UL Environment and GreenBiz Group that assesses sustainability performance.

The partners published the final version of UL 880: Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations today following several years of collaboration and hundreds of comments from a diverse range of stakeholders.

The standard, along with the upcoming UL 881: Sustainability for Service Sector Organizations, form the foundation of UL Environment's new Sustainability Quotient (SQ) Program, which the company also announced today. In addition to certification to the standards, the SQ program features include a readiness assessment, analytics and supply chain service.

"The overall idea was to develop a certification and rating program, design it in a way that is auditable, and really try to help some basic standardization in the marketplace over core sustainability indicators and metrics," said Craig Coulter, business manager of sustainability services at UL Environment (ULE), a business unit of Underwriters Laboratories, also known as UL. 

In an interview last week, Coulter described how LG, Intuit and igefa were using UL 880 in slightly different ways. LG took a baseline approach to see where one of its facilities stood against a third-party standard. Igefa, a German-based provider of professional cleaning and hygiene products, is using SQ to help it organize its internal sustainability program with the goal of eventually earning certification under the standard. Intuit is using UL 880 as a reference point while developing its sustainable supplier policy, which will mirror the prerequisite and core indicators of the standard.

"That opened our eyes because rather than the typical company going through the certification, they're actually using the indicators and metrics of the standard, applying that to the supply chain in a meaningful way, and then using it as basis for getting good answers that they can act upon," Coulter said of Intuit.

Since the release of the initial draft, the standard has evolved in several ways based on feedback from stakeholders. In fact, UL 880 received more feedback from more stakeholders than any standard in UL's 117-year history. Among the changes was to allow the standard to be applied to specific business units as well as to an entire company, Coulter said.

In addition to choosing the comprehensive certification covering all five domains -- environment, work force, community engagement and human rights, customers and suppliers, and governance for sustainability -- companies can also seek a partial or focused certification that begins with specific domains.

"This sort of gives more of a building block approach, as opposed to doing everything at once," said Coulter.

Developers also wanted to make the standard both ambitious but attainable, with about quarter of the indicators needed to meet the first level, said Rory Bakke, GreenBiz Group's director of sustainability, who played a lead role in drafting both UL 880 and UL 881.

"The standard is a great educational tool and really is a good roadmap for helping to define what a sustainable business looks like," Bakke said. Development of UL 881 will continue through 2012, she noted.

Check-the-box image via Shutterstock.