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UCLAx Cradle to Cradle: class 11


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This is one in a series of documents that follow my UCLA winter 2010 course titled Cradle to Cradle: Closed Loop Systems. This interdisciplinary course contributes to the school's Certificate of Global Sustainability.

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UCLAx Cradle to Cradle: class 11

  1. 1. UCLAx class 11 1 UCLAx Cradle to Cradle: class 11 For our eleventh class, we spent the first half discussing the third Profile Project focused on certifications and labels. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the students did three profile projects - one about materials and/or resources, one about companies and/or people, and one about certifications and/or labels. Survey the green product landscape and you’ll quickly find a large variety of labels, logos, and certifications from an assortment of government, trade, and third-party organizations. How is anyone to know who to trust or what labels are authentic? A quick search on-line will reveal page after page of how black is the new green, how red is the new green, how yellow is the new green, and on and on. It’s impossible to know what green really is when media is telling us that every color is somehow the new green. This is the context in which I asked the students to find a certification or label that interests them and research its background, development, and positive aspects. Again the students dove in and selected some very interesting programs to research. Here are some of the certifications and labels they chose to profile: • US Department of Agriculture Organic - Over the past twenty years, consumers have become accustomed to seeing the USDA Organic label on products in stores such as Whole Foods Market that meet certain growing, harvesting, production, and raising practices. Yet, how many really know the details of that criteria? Do consumers take for granted that a federal government agency is a trusted evaluator? These are interesting questions for a program that has had its opponents regarding corporate participation in setting standards. • US Green Building Council LEED - The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program created by the USGBC in 1993 has become a considerable powerhouse in the area of green building design. This non-profit organization has become the de-facto standard in architecture and interior design when looking for a credible, objective, and authentic third party certification. • Sustain-a-label - One of my students is developing his own green certification label program. Since it’s still in development, and some aspects of his proposed program are potentially proprietary, I’ll have to refrain from writing anything. But it is comprehensive and I’m excited to see where he’ll go with it. • California Sustainable Winegrowing Certification - Two vintners and winegrower advocacy groups joined forces in 2002 to form the California Sustainable ➜ threadcollaborative 11250 morrison street no. 201, north hollywood ca 91601
  2. 2. UCLAx class 11 2 Winegrowing Program to help growers and vintners develop tools to increase their knowledge of sustainable practices. • Forest Stewardship Council - FSC has become one of the most respected international certification programs. It’s transparent organizational structure, clear evaluation criteria, and emphasis on chain of custody set it apart from many other programs. • EcoLogo - This program started more than twenty years ago as a Canadian government program, but due to funding issues in 1995 was taken over by its employees and went private under the name TerraChoice Environmental Marketing. This firm also authored the excellent publication The Seven Sins of Greenwashing. • Fair Trade - This program is administered by Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International and is different than many of the others profiled in that it focuses on trade practices relative to working conditions. • Cradle to Cradle - This program was developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart and is based on the principals proposed in their seminal book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. It’s a comprehensive multi- attribute evaluation system that looks at virtually every aspect of how a product is manufactured, including every material component, its chemical composition, what can be done with it at its end of life, whether or not it is a biological or technical nutrient, and much more. • Cleaner and Greener Certification - This program was created by and administered by the non-profit Leonardo Academy. It addresses issues of energy efficiency and emissions for events, buildings, and organizations. It has a focus on, and a grading system based on, multi-pollutant emission reductions and offset achievements. What was most interesting about the programs selected by the students was how much variety there was in organizational structure, governance, implementation, and more. Every certification and label explored showed a different and unique approach. No single pattern emerged and no two programs were alike. It was as eye opening for me as it was for the students. ➜ threadcollaborative 11250 morrison street no. 201, north hollywood ca 91601