HOW GREEN PRODUCTS ARE REVIEWED FOR PASS ENDORSEMENT - ENVIRONMENTAL ATTRIBUTES & FITNESS FOR PURPOSEPURPOSE

Green products are assessed against a range of criteria before a decision is made on whether they are worthy of the PASS marque. These criteria fall under three main areas:

• Environmental attributes
• Fitness for purpose  
• Availability in the UK

Environmental Attributes

When a product is evaluated for PASS endorsement, the review panel look for positive environmental qualities that distinguish it from what are considered average or lesser-performing products in the same function category. The product / material must be distinguishable in one or more of the  key categories shown below


Fitness for Purpose

While the PASS accreditation is given to products with Green credentials, fitness for purpose is essential and so the review panel uses the following questions to explore the fitness for purpose of the particular product / material under review. They cover issues of practicality rather than sustainability and have been arrived at by architects Stephen George & Partners from previous experience when employing innovative materials. See below

• Availability in UK is also key, since the product needs to be accessible to UK buyers to benefit from its environmental credentials.

ENVIRONMENTAL ATTRIBUTES
USED TO EVALUATE PRODUCTS

The product / material must be distinguishable in one or more of the following key categories to gain a PASS label:

Products that have minimal or no impact on the depletion of limited natural resources, e.g. a preferred product might be distinguished by its use of resources that are abundant or renewable.
Products that have been designed to use natural resources more efficiently - this might be from using less material to perform the same function, or manufacturing a durable product that will delay or eliminate its eventual replacement. Products that are manufactured from recycled materials are especially important. Equally, products should be designed so that at the end-of-life, the components can be easily dissembled to be either reused or recycled.

Ideally, the products should be free of chemicals that are toxic to humans and the environment. Practically though, many materials and components, as well as their manufacturing processes, will continue to use materials that are considered toxic. Preference will be given to manufacturers that have eliminated or are demonstrably working towards reducing and eliminating toxic materials, compared with the products they are replacing. Products employing elements or chemicals listed on REACH or the ChemSec SIN lists will not be acceptable.

Traditionally buildings use considerably more energy in their lifetime through heating, lighting and power (operational energy) than the energy used to manufacture them and construct a building (embodied energy). However embodied energy is not insignificant and as operational energy is being dramatically reduced through legislation, it is becoming increasingly important to reduce embodied energy. In PASS evaluation preference will be given to products that demonstrate reduced amounts of energy used in their manufacturer. Equally, products will be favoured that are clearly manufactured using renewable energy sources.

The UK's consumption of water must be reduced. Materials and equipment that promote water efficiency are an essential component of sustainable construction.

Energy saving is at the heart of sustainable construction - both because of the impact of burning fossil fuels, and because of the UK's increasing dependency on imported fuels. Supported products include equipment that enables more efficient use of energy, as well as materials that help insulate buildings.

Transport can perform a substantial role in overall environmental impact of a product, with transportation of raw materials to the point of manufacture and the finished product to market, often adding a significant amount of energy use. Manufacturers developing efficient transport strategies can make important reductions in the 'embodied energy' of a product.

Products must have an EPD, a report produced by a third party that includes details of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the product. An LCA addresses the impacts of a product throughout its life stages from manufacture to disposal.

Manufacturers regularly publish environmental standards by which their products are said to match. Part of any product review is determining that the product demonstrates that the standards are achieved.

Labels, endorsements and accolades provide a critical third party review of the worth of manufacturers' claims made on behalf of their products. Labels abound and reflect a spectrum of environmental concerns from the general (e.g. Blue Angel) to the specific (e.g. FSC).

In 'A renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility' the European Commission states that to fully meet their social responsibility, companies should "have in place a process to integrate social, environmental, ethical and human rights concerns into their business operations and core strategy in close collaboration with their stakeholders." The review panel is looking for manufacturers to demonstrate how they apply this to their own organisation.

FITNESS FOR PURPOSE CRITERIA
USED TO EVALUATE PRODUCTS

The review panel uses the following questions to explore the fitness for purpose of the particular product / material under review.

Reviewed by:

SGP Partners Achitects

1. Design Issues

  • How different is the material from a commonly specified one? Does it act as a substitute or as part of an innovative design method?
  • Can it be used in common forms of construction or does it demand a new approach?
  • Is specialist knowledge of the product necessary in design? How unusual is its performance in comparison to common methods of construction?
  • If appropriate, how easily does it lend itself to creating forms and/or structures?
  • How much information is available on the material and how easy is this to obtain?
  • Is there support for design teams (architect / engineer / contractor) in the form of technical advice, representatives or literature?
  • Will a specialist designer be required or is the materials use within the common capability of the design team?
  • Are standard details available or even appropriate?
  • How adaptable is it (cutting / bending / taking fixings and being fixed itself)?
  • How does the material interface with other materials? Are there any corrosion / chemical interaction issues?
  • Does it require any ancillary materials and / accessories?
  • Is use of the material likely to cause any problems with UK statutory legislation (E.g. Planning, Building Regulations, COSHH?)
  • Is a warranty available? Does a warranty place limitations on its use?
  • Is the capital cost comparable to common construction materials — in particular those it may be offered as a substitute for?
  • Does it depend on financial benefit over its life cycle or subsequent causal offsetting to be considered cost effective rather than initial capital cost?


2. Site Issues

  • Is the material marketed and sold by the same company as produce it? Or is supplied by a third party?
  • How long is a typical delivery period, and where does it originate from?
  • How secure is the supply? Might it be subject to disruption by political, global or environmental events?
  • How is it delivered? Are there any implications for site access?
  • How is the material stored?
  • Is the material capable of being used by the normal site workforce or is a specialist sub-contractor required?
  • Is specialist training required for site operatives? If so, who provides this and is a cost incurred?
  • Is technical support available for the contractor during site operations?
  • Are any specialist tools required?
  • Is any unique specialist protective wear required during site operations?
  • How easily is the material handled / moved / lifted?
  • What plant may be required over and above that usually available on site?
  • How is waste usually dealt with?
  • How does weather affect use of the material? Does rainfall, heat or cold affect or prevent its use?
  • Post-installation, after what period can the material be worked with / trafficked on /decorated etc.? Is there a curing, setting or drying period?


3. Summary and Conclusion

  • The reviewer writes a short summary about their overall impressions of the product
  • The reviewer lists the most important positive and negative aspects of the product


NB The opinions expressed are given in good faith and therefore open to revision following receipt of further, expanded or contrary information provided by other parties at a later date.