In researching a material, we consider its sustainability in terms of resource usage, environmental impact, human health, and social equity. Below each category are the items we research to assess a material’s sustainability.
Positive characteristics are marked with a “+” and negative characteristics are marked with an “x”.
The material and energy resources that go into producing and transporting the product.
- + Is the material made of recycled, reclaimed, or certified renewable content?
- + Is the material organically produced and certified?
- + Does distribution minimize packaging waste and transporation emissions?
- + Is there a take-back program?
- + Is there a publicly available Life Cycle Assessment of this material?
- + Is the source of materials transparent?
- + Are the materials sourced locally?
The effects of the material on the environment from manufacturing to end of useful life.
- + Is the product manufacturing locally?
- + Is there a second life for manufacturing waste, such as scraps or cutoffs?
- × What by-products or pollutants are created by the manufacturing process?
- + Does the manufacturer meet or exceed regulatory policies?
- + Is the product recyclable in existing recycling streams?
- + Is reuse or downcycling encouraged?
- + Does the material naturally decompose?
Hazards associated with the material’s manufacturing and use and disposal.
- × Does the material emit VOCs in manufacture, intended use, or disposal?
- × Are there any known carcinogens, air pollutants, or toxic substances created during the production of this material?
- × Are adhesives and finishes required for use and installation?
- + Is there a publicly available Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the material?
- + Are there pollution treatment systems in effect?
- + Does the manufacturer meet health and air quality requirements?
- + Are appropriate precautions taken for worker safety?
The relationship between the company, its employees and the surrounding community.
- + Are there benefits/programs (such as daycare services, carpooling, fair living wages) for all employees?
- + Does the company employ local members of the community?
- + Does they offer community and charitable outreach programs?
- + Does they support cultural and economic growth?
- + Does the company have a public Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy?
- + Are they an equal opportunity employer?