An Inside Look at Cradle to Cradle Certification

Cradle to Cradle certification label

Facility professionals should have a thorough understanding of their sustainability objectives in order to choose products that are in line with their needs, says Bolus. It would be too simplistic to select items based on only their final level as you’ll miss the reasons they were certified in the first place. For example, say your organization is more concerned about indoor air quality than the embodied energy a product carries – you will want to look at products that have high marks in the materials health category rather than in the energy category.

Taking this extra dive into the product’s background allows building owners to maximize how the item will contribute to their space, Glass adds. Studies in every sector have confirmed that healthy spaces lead to productive workers. Knowing that the right products can contribute to your bottom line arms you with a good argument to propose to senior leadership about any differences in first costs. You can also point out that having a product that can be easily reclaimed or recycled will save your organization from unnecessary waste fees, even if those avoided expenses are a decade in the future.

After certified products have found a home in your building, don’t forget to market these green selections, Bolus recommends. Tenants should be aware that the table in front of them, the carpet underfoot, or the ceiling tiles overhead have environmental and health benefits. Make it a point to educate occupants about how your company is using its purchasing power to decrease the impacts of items used on a daily basis. From the integrity of raw materials, environmental stewardship during manufacturing, and reuse options, Cradle to Cradle Certified products demonstrate that human and environmental health can coexist in a single offering.

Company Perspectives

There are over 2,000 Cradle to Cradle Certified products. Hear from a few companies about why they chose this ecolabel and how their manufacturing practices are supported by environmental stewardship.

Bentley Mills
Maya Henderson, Sustainability Manager

Transparency for product health is important to our customers. However, it can be difficult to effectively disclose material safety without violating agreements with our suppliers. Because C2C assesses a product’s chemical ingredients without listing them publically, this certification gives buyers insights about sustainability and product health while honoring the privacy concerns of vendors.

For the carpet industry, we excel at material reutilization because there are so many other applications for nylon 6,6. Our company offers a reclamation program that accepts carpet from any manufacturer. We also include post-consumer recycled content into our offerings as well as pre-consumer waste to minimize the use of virgin products.

Bentley is also mindful of how much energy is required to manufacture 1 square foot of carpet. Our carpet is produced in a LEED-EBOM Gold facility that is supported by a solar array and renewable energy credits, ensuring 100% of our energy is renewable. In addition to upgrading equipment, we have optimized our production schedules to increase efficiencies throughout the mill. We also made a pledge with the Better Plants Program in 2010 that committed us to a 25% energy intensity improvement over 10 years. We actually met our target in just four years and have set a new goal to achieve an additional 25% decrease.

Cradle to Cradle Certified makes it easier for facility managers to uncover how a product was created without having to become an expert in manufacturing practices or ingredient chemistry. C2C provides a better baseline for comparing products and their inherent properties, production practices, and reuse potential.

Construction Specialties
Howard Williams, Senior VP of Sustainability and Kendra Martz, Sustainability Coordinator

Williams: Our company was inspired by William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s book Cradle to Cradle. It brought us to a realization that although we had already implemented some of these practices, the Cradle to Cradle protocol gave us a structured and targeted process.

C2C gives us a people-centered context for our work. It’s really a philosophy that promotes sustainable product design and manufacturing behaviors. Without such a standard, one could make unsubstantiated green claims and even have their product made in a third-world country using child labor. However, with C2C’s third-party verification and audits, customers are assured the claims are real.

As many of our products are aluminum, coupled with our material recovery programs, we are able to include high percentages of recycled content. We also optimize energy use by purchasing carbon offsets and using efficient lighting and motion sensors.

Martz: Water is a big focus for us as well. We use no-irrigation landscaping, low-flow fixtures, and water metering. We have also secured compliance letters for our effluent discharge.

Facility professionals can have confidence that C2C is credible because the product has been assessed, weighed against the C2C Standard, and certified by a third party. It also makes selecting sustainable products easier – you don’t need to decide what makes sense because a toxicologist has done your homework for you.

Tarkett
Diane Martel, Vice President of Environmental Planning and Strategy, General Management

Our commitment is going above and beyond the certification itself as we strive to become a C2C company by 2020. We believe that how the Cradle to Cradle principles drive a circular economy is the future.

The goal of transparency is not to check a box but to make good products and optimize them so they are safe for the environment and users. To further enhance our material health, Tarkett is publishing environmental health disclosures that rate ingredients. We also launched an offering that is free of pigments, which can be problematic, and are investigating alternative color sources.

Our manufacturing sites currently use 20% renewable energy and some plants have incorporated biomass energy and recycled products such as jute pellets. We are also working on putting all of our facilities on closed-loop production water systems.

We never talk about end of life, but rather post-use. Our ReStart program reclaims samples, products and installation waste. We are also closing the loop through consolidation points and internal recycling lines.

Cradle2Cradle looks at products in a holistic way. For commercial spaces, it is important to have healthy people working in a healthy environment. Facility managers must closely consider the impact of the products used in their buildings. That means choosing products not only for their content, but also for the way they are made, reused, and recycled. If we follow this path, we will close the loop every time.

Mermet USA
Colin Blackford, Innovation Manager

Unlike other programs, the Cradle to Cradle standard looks at the big sustainability picture rather than individual parts. It carries more weight because gives insights into a company’s stewardship rather than just the product itself. Manufacturers must strive for continuous improvement and make positive changes to meet certification instead of simply documenting what they’re already doing.

Reutilization is a strong area for our company. One of our shades is made from recycled water bottles to cut down on virgin materials. Through our recovery program, used screens can be processed into a second generation of fibers. Efforts to salvage post-production materials have also led to a 70% decrease in our year-to-date, trash-to-landfill volume.

The main benefit of Cradle to Cradle to building owners is that it gives an apples-to-apple comparison between products. EPDs, for example, have a place but it’s still up to buyers to discern how environmentally friendly an offering is. C2C makes it clear how a product is an ecologically conscious choice.

Jennie Morton jennie.morton@buildings.com is Senior Editor of BUILDINGS.


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