Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Jorge Contreras (American), Hannah Roth, and Meghan Lewis have posted Toward a Rational Framework for Sustainable Building Materials Standard (Standards Engineering) on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
increasing public awareness of the impact that buildings have on human
health, climate change, energy usage and environmental degradation have
led in recent years to a growing interest in environmentally-sustainable
building. One of the most significant factors affecting building
sustainability is the sustainability of materials used in construction.
Yet there is little coherence in the measurement and assessment of
materials sustainability attributes, resulting in a landscape today that
is littered with hundreds of competing, inconsistent and often
imprecise eco-labels, standards and certifications. This discord has
led both to confusion among consumers and commercial purchasers of
sustainable building materials, and to the incorporation of inconsistent
sustainability criteria in larger building certification programs.
In response to the need for greater clarity in evaluating the sustainability of building materials, we conducted an in-depth study of sustainability standards and certifications for selected categories of building materials and have developed a set of recommendations for government, standards-setting organizations and industry that, we hope, will bring a greater degree of consistency and rationality to this critical area. These recommendations include: (1) the development of a widely-accepted, uniform nomenclature for describing materials sustainability features, (2) the development of consistent and transparent methodologies for measuring materials sustainability features, (3) the adoption of a uniform, concise and user-friendly format for disclosing key materials sustainability features, along the lines of the FDA’s standardized Nutrition Facts Label, (4) the use of consistent and comparable materials sustainability measurements as criteria in broader certification programs and regulation, and (5) the development of a public database for materials sustainability information.