ULE 880 Sustainability Certification Opens for Pilot Testing Phase

ULE 880 Sustainability Certification Opens for Pilot Testing Phase

Outdoor meeting - CC license by Flickr user Office Now

 A new version of the first sustainability standard for businesses, tweaked after garnering over 1,500 comments, was released today.

The updated version of ULE 880-Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations will be piloted by companies and opens up a new comment period starting next week.

ULE 880 was developed from a partnership between UL Environment, a division of safety certifier Underwriters Laboratories, and GreenBiz Group. It is the first sustainability standard to address organizations as a whole, and it focuses on manufacturers. The next standard, ULE 881, will be for service sector companies.

"The basic content that we had in it, that has stayed relatively the same," said Craig Coulter, business manager for sustainability services at UL Environment. "A lot of the indicators were tweaked, changed, addressed...A lot of those revisions stem directly from the comments we received."

Plenty of questions and comments were directed at products, he said, with some people saying that the standard should not address a company's products at all while other said it should delve deeply into what kinds of products companies produce.

The standard now looks just at how a company interacts with products at the organizational level.

Instead of asking if a company uses specific chemicals of concern in its goods, the standard examines how the company manages chemicals of concern. And instead of requiring companies to avoid certain materials in favor of others, it looks at how they use life cycle analysis when designing and manufacturing products.

ULE 880 measures companies on more than 100 indicators. The first version was released for public comment in August last year, and brought in more than 1,500 comments. UL Environment is also releasing a document that responds to as many comments as possible and also addresses what were seen to be the 10 main issues under discussion.

Another matter that was questioned is the lack of financial indicators. Coulter said that some people wanted to know why financial success is not covered by the standard. He explained that there are already third-party processes for analyzing companies' financials, so if ULE 880 is going to include a financial aspect, it needs to do so in a way that adds value. They haven't figured that out yet, but Coulter says it's something they want to add in the future.

Coulter also said the standard now has a clearer path for companies wanting to implement it. There are seven prerequisites that companies must meet along with 19 indicators that they must score points on. The remainder of the indicators build off of those requirements.

The system around performance-related indicators has also been changed to first establish what companies' current performance levels are and then set goals from there.

"We will be able to monitor how companies are doing and collect data," Coulter said, "And over time...we'll be able to lay specific performance goals across the industries."

Once the latest comment period ends and UL Environment gathers feedback from companies implementing the standard, it will make any necessary updates and publish a final version of the standard.

Outdoor meeting - CC license by Flickr user Office Now