Trying to Solve the L.E.D. Quandary

Read the full story in the New Yorker.

Is there a workable business model for products that are built to last, rather than to fall apart? This is an idea that I explored here in July, in a story about the L.E.D. quandary. That quandary, in short: companies are making a good thing—light-emitting-diode bulbs that conserve energy and last for years—but they can’t make money in the long run from products that rarely need replacing. As global light sockets fill with L.E.D.s, century-old corporate titans are getting out of the bulb business even before “socket saturation” tips sales into a decline. The question remains whether any company has an incentive to make a product that is not designed to fall apart or become obsolete.

After that story ran, several newer, smaller firms reached out to me claiming to have solutions to the conundrum. Two seemed worth a deeper look: Cree, an L.E.D. specialist in the U.S.; and UrbanVolt, based in Dublin, Ireland. Both say that they no longer sell light bulbs but “light.” They exemplify two very different approaches to doing so.

UL Introduces SPOT™ Online Database – The Largest Credible Product Sustainability Information Tool

Read the full story from UL.

UL today introduced SPOT™, a web-based product sustainability information tool that will facilitate the selection of credible green products and enable the design community to apply that information into the Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflow. Currently featuring more than 40,000 products, SPOT database will be a first of its kind tool for architects, designers and specifiers to identify products by sustainable attributes, MasterFormat product codes and building rating system credits such as LEED v4 and the WELL Building Standard™. To enhance the mobile experience, UL’s SPOT app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Heading Earthwards: Johnson & Johnson dives deep to green up healthcare

Read the full story at

It’s widely recognised that the healthcare sector has a large and costly environmental footprint. Hospitals in particular account for some of the most energy-intensive facilities, yet many traditionally have been slow to embrace resource efficiency. A study by the University of Chicago found that the industry stands to save up to $15bn over 10 years by adopting more sustainable practices – it’s an opportunity that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the world’s sixth-largest consumer health company.

J&J’s product stewardship lead Al Ianuzzi says customer demand is increasing for more sustainable products – highly significant when you consider that healthcare is one of the highest growing industries in the world. Globally, he says, the sector spends more than $200bn a year on medical and non-medical products. It’s also constantly innovating: around 25% of J&J’s 2015 sales came from new products introduced within the past five years.

These two drivers sit at the heart of the company’s product stewardship programme, Earthwards, which Ianuzzi helped pioneer back in 2009. Earthwards was launched as the company had a hunch that the market would demand greener products that could deliver added value and performance. It’s an approach that uses lifecycle data to identify the environmental and social impacts of a product, and identifies opportunities to dematerialise them.

Earthwards recognition is reserved for the company’s most improved products, which must achieve three significant improvements across seven impact areas: materials, packaging, energy, water, waste, positive social impact and product innovation.


Getting chemicals out of health care settings, with a little help

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The Hippocratic Oath declares that disease should be prevented whenever possible because prevention is preferable to cure.

Furthering this oath, the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI), a program involving more than 1,300 hospitals and health care centers in the United States and Canada, has developed a safer chemicals program as part of its broader sustainability mission.

U.S. health care spending accounted for nearly 18 percent of GDP in 2014. The health care sector’s immense purchasing power is effectively tipping the marketplace in favor of suppliers adopting safer chemicals policies and practices.

Good News for our Health at Home: Safety Sells

Read the full post on the EPA Blog.

Last spring, EPA unveiled a new label to help consumers make informed choices about the products they use at home.

Today, hundreds of products with the Safer Choice label are on store shelves at major retailers in all 50 states. We’re starting with household cleaners and laundry detergents, and will soon expand the label to a wider range of other cleaners, car and yard-care products, and do-it-yourself items like coatings and adhesives.

Spring Cleaning? National Library of Medicine Household Products Database can help

Spring cleaning?

The Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air pollution among the top environmental dangers.

Common cleaning products can contribute to this problem. Immediate effects of exposure to indoor pollutants can include headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and exacerbated symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Learn what’s in these products, their potential health effects, and about safety and handling with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Household Products Database (HPD).

HPD links over 15,000 consumer brands to health effects from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by manufacturers and allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients. The database is designed to help answer the following questions:

  • What are the chemical ingredients and their percentage in specific brand?
  • Which products contain specific chemical ingredients?
  • Who manufactures a specific brand? How do I contact this manufacturer?
  • What are the acute and chronic effects of chemical ingredients in a specific brand?
  • What other chemical information is available from the National Library of Medicine?

Explore the Household Products Database at