The answer is: It depends. In 2018, LEED certification is still the predominant system used to designate a structure’s sustainable building standard, however there are over 100 others that are fairly widely used, such as the WELL Building Standard, Green Globes, Living Building Challenge and Fitwel. Each one of these pursues different sustainability objectives and therefore measures different characteristics of the products that go into it.
It also depends on when they need it. During the early design phase architects, engineers and designers are looking for products that meet the three basic criteria – design, function and materials. They will favor products where the sustainability characteristics they seek are easily findable and calculable. You can think of this more as a pre-validation before the products are actually bought and used.
Later in the process, project close-out documentation and submitting for third-party certifications and awards can be a frustrating and time-consuming endeavor for the AEC-O. This is the most difficult time for the designer, and when they need the manufacturer’s support and information the most. What makes this process even more overwhelming is working with manufacturers who do not provide this information in a consolidated and convenient way.
9 times out of 10 the search for specific product information to complete the required documents begins at the manufacturer’s website. When trying to compile their submittal, if they can’t find what they’re looking for they resort to calling or emailing customer service for answers. Since most support staff are not enabled to answer how much pre-consumer recycled content product XYZ contains, and it can take days or longer to attempt to track down the information, most will give up and find a replacement product from a manufacturer that makes a better effort which is a lost sales opportunity (and erodes brand loyalty).
If the AEC-O design community could have the ear of the BPMs when it comes to searching and specifying, evaluating and documenting sustainable building products, below are the top 5 sustainability features they would recommend every building product manufacturer should highlight on their website:
1. A Dedicated Sustainability section: Overview and Corporate commitment/CSR report at an organizational level
Having a dedicated landing page for sustainability is a base requirement when it comes to directing the AEC to your sustainable building product information. Consider including a general overview about how the organization has adopted sustainability and any certifications/labels/awards that are applicable to their building products. The BPM should also provide general summary documents like a full Corporate Social Responsibility report to back-up their sustainability claims and objectives. This is a huge trend in sustainability as it relates to manufacturers and can help building project teams earn a point under LEEDv4 Building product disclosure and optimization – sourcing of raw materials.
2. General product sustainability information
Include certifications/labels, resources/content, and contact information and list applicable products or include a catalog for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs), Declare Label products and other 3rd Party recognized certifications and frameworks. Guide the AEC-O to what is most relevant about your product sustainability and offer a complete product catalog detailing sustainability criteria.
3. Product sustainability search functionality
Listing all building products across all building product families helps the AEC design team specify the products they need that meet their sustainability requirements. Advanced search options to filter by certification, environmental characteristics, product criteria, etc. can help the AEC quickly find and compare products that will help them with their sustainability goals.
4. Building product evaluation tool for sustainability rating systems
Beyond simply searching and filtering products, evaluating products against specific sustainability rating systems and certifications allows the AEC to quickly discern whether they should specify and install a product. This functionality can also support specific documentation requirements mandated by certification bodies. This expedites and enhances the workflow of the design team as they specify products, install, and submit documentation for final certification and review.
5. Product documentation and submittals
Creating a branded and verified documentation/submittal download feature for each building product greatly simplifies the usability of your sustainability content. This function allows the design team to verify and document sustainable attributes associated with the building products, and eventually it will be what is used when it comes time to certify and finish their project.
ecoScorecard makes this easy.
- A simple and elegant user experience that can be white labeled and in the BPM’s brand
- Captures a manufacturer’s product data for the rating systems that matter most (over 40 and counting), and continues to keep up with evolving standards
- Allows the AEC to search, find and compare the products that will contribute the most to their project
- Download all the documentation needed for their submittal, in just a few clicks.
Are you ready to supply your customers with the sustainability information they desire but don’t know where to begin? Schedule a consultation with one of our sustainability experts and learn how the ecoScorecard platform can help you accomplish your sustainability goals and gain credibility in your customers’ eyes today.