Using standards to promote the reuse of rare earth materials

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Rare earths are a key material used in hard disk drives used in servers. Mining of rare earths has significant impacts on water and soil quality, generates waste, and requires energy use. Reusing rare earths can help reduce the impacts of mining as well as increase the resiliency and security of the United States by ensuring access to these materials for new products. The U.S. government has indicated its interest in increasing recycling of rare earths and other critical minerals in EO 14017 (America’s Supply Chains). EPA initiated development of criteria to include in NSF/ANSI 426 addressing these issues. EPA conducted outreach to and collaborated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Critical Materials Institute, Seagate (a major disk drive manufacturer), the Global Electronics Council (GEC), and other experts, encouraging them to participate in an NSF task group that would explore options and develop criteria for possible inclusion in NSF/ANSI 426.

EPA Recommended Metrics and Normalization Methods for Use in State and Local Building Performance Standards

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This 12-page document outlines EPA’s recommendations for metrics and normalization methods for us in state and local building performance standards (BPS). Contents include: recommended metrics for use in a BPS; recommended method for normalizing site EUI in a BPS; EPA’s next steps; aalternative normalization approach for buildings eligible to receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR Score.

2024 IECC proposals address energy use in budding industry

Read the full story from the New Buildings Institute.

With the rapid growth of new indoor agriculture facilities growing vegetables, cannabis and other plants, the increased demand for energy and carbon intensive lighting and dehumidification for plant growth has skyrocketed. Lighting can consume between 50-70% of an indoor grow facility’s energy. HVAC and dehumidification accounts for most of the rest. For cities and states trying to meet climate action targets to reduce emissions, the data tells us that unless states can incentivize the growth of crops outdoors or in greenhouses it is necessary to enact standardized requirements for indoor horticultural facilities as soon as possible.

The current development of the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is the best near-term opportunity to capture these savings in future growing facilities. Last month, the first of two proposals submitted by NBI in October 2021 was approved by the commercial consensus committee, and will be included in the first draft of the new energy code to be released for public comment this summer. The committee-approved proposal (CEPI-185) addresses lighting efficiency with the second proposal (CEPI-84) targeting dehumidification efficiency to be considered in the coming weeks. Taken together, these requirements could drastically reduce the energy and carbon footprint of these facilities. According to one study, if all horticultural lighting today was converted to LED technology, they would achieve a lighting energy savings of 34% and save $350 million annually.

New coalition to tackle emission reductions in existing buildings

Read the full story from the New Buildings Institute.

President Biden has announced the first-of-its-kind Buildings Performance Standards Coalition during remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting. The announcement highlights the importance of enacting policy to support emission reductions in all buildings—both new and existing. The Coalition includes 33 state and local governments with a goal of advancing legislation or regulation in each locale by Earth Day 2024. Jurisdictions included in the partnership encompass 20% of the U.S. building footprint and 22% of its total population.

Green Seal and Healthy Schools Campaign launch national pilot standard for school facilities

Students in school hallway

Source: Green Seal, Inc.

Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Green Seal have announced a pilot Healthy Green Schools & Colleges certification standard to support facilities leaders in identifying and implementing low- or no-cost measures that make a significant difference in school indoor air quality.

The pilot standard is publicly available for any school district or university to use today to improve air quality in their facilities. It is designed to be implemented district-wide or university-wide to ensure an organization-level commitment to standard operating procedures, resource distribution, and facility maintenance that supports the health of all students and staff, as well as the environment.

The 9 school districts and 10 colleges and universities that signed on as Early Adopters during the development of the pilot standard will now begin formally implementing it to provide data and advice on thresholds for certification levels. The full Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program, including self-assessment tools, educational resources, a peer network and certification opportunities, will be available this Spring.

“The pandemic has made creating healthy school environments an urgent national priority and brought to light the significant under-investment in school facilities nationwide,” said Doug Gatlin, CEO of Green Seal. “This national standard fills a critical gap to provide schools with the resources and network to ensure a quality of school facility that every student in America deserves.”

“Unhealthy indoor air, inadequate ventilation, and chemical exposure from cleaning and maintenance routines are linked to poor concentration and test performance in students. These conditions are disproportionately found in schools serving primarily low-income Black and Latinx students, making this an important issue of equity.,” said Rochelle Davis, President and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign. “The Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program is designed for any school district or university that commits to providing safer and healthier indoor school environments, whether they are just getting started on this path or already are leaders.”

“This standard is such a big deal for our field of work,” said Lazell Ofield, Director of Custodial Services and Warehousing of Kansas City Public Schools. “The goal for all of us in this line of work is to provide a clean, green, healthy space for our staff and school communities. Now we have an actual document to go by, monitor, and adjust as needed to meet those goals.”

“What we need most of all right now is support.” said Jodi Krause, Assistant Director of Housekeeping for Residence Hall Facilities at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. “The way I see it, this standard guides us and brings us together to make healthier, safer, more sustainable decisions.”

About the Standard

The first-of-its-kind standard for healthy and sustainable facilities management was designed in partnership with the award-winning K-12 and university facility directors on the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges Steering Committee and with input from early adopters, stakeholders and the public. It covers the full range of facilities management practices, including:

About the Program

The standard will be the centerpiece of a comprehensive program launching this Spring to support school facility management professionals in transforming the health and sustainability of school campuses. First, a self-assessment tool will allow schools to objectively measure their current indoor environmental health and sustainability performance, while guidebooks, trainings and tools will help facility professionals determine and take the next steps.

Then, the standard’s points-based scoring system encourages schools to keep improving at their own pace, with support from a network of facility management peers across the country who are on a similar journey. Schools that reach the top level of achievement can apply for third-party certification, earning public recognition for their verified expertise in providing healthy school environments.

Learn more about the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges standard and program here.

About Healthy Green Schools & Colleges

Healthy Green Schools & Colleges is a partnership between the Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) and Green Seal, combining HSC’s extensive experience working with leading school facility directors and Green Seal’s globally recognized credibility in science-based standard development. Healthy Green Schools & Colleges provides school facility leaders nationwide with resources to transform the health and sustainability of school and university environments without making major capital investments. The multifaceted program includes education, certification standards and implementation guidelines; a network to accelerate the adoption of best practices, and recognition of the leaders who achieve success. Learn more at healthygreenschools.org.

About Green Seal, Inc.

Green Seal® is a global nonprofit organization with a mission to transform the economy for a healthier, greener world. Since 1989, Green Seal has applied rigorous standards for health, environmental sustainability, and product performance to its certification programs to empower better purchasing decisions. Green Seal has certified thousands of products, services and spaces from hundreds of leading companies and is specified by countless schools, government agencies, businesses, and institutions. Today, the Green Seal certification mark is a universal symbol that a product or service meets the highest benchmark of health and environmental leadership. Visit greenseal.org or connect with Green Seal on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Rationale for ISO 14001 Certification: A Systematic Review and a Cost–Benefit Analysis

Camilleri, M. A. (2022). “The rationale for ISO 14001 certification: A systematic review and a cost–benefit analysis.” Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 1– 17. https://doi-org/10.1002/csr.2254.

Abstract: This contribution presents the findings from a two-stage systematic review. It relied on PRISMA’s methodical protocol to capture and analyze high-impact articles, that were focused on the International Standards Organization’s ISO 14001—Environment Management Systems. Whilst stage 1 shed light on the most cited publications since 1995, stage 2 narrowed down the search results between 2015 and 2021. The findings suggest that the use of this certifiable standard may result in operational efficiencies through better utilization of resources and waste management systems. It provides opportunities for practitioners to re-conceive their license to operate and to enhance their credentials with stakeholders. Moreover, this review considered potential pitfalls of ISO 14001, like high certification costs, time constraints as well as an increase in paperwork and red tape. It noted that managers and employees may not always be willing or knowledgeable enough to implement the necessary changes to comply with the standard’s requirements.

Becoming sustainable can be good for business too

Read the full story from NIST.

Sustainability is becoming a selling point for many customers, and small and medium manufacturers (SMMs) up and down supply chains are being pushed to address their emissions and resource use. However, many SMMs are hesitant to take on sustainability goals. A new paper from NIST and Georgetown University, Refocusing the barriers to sustainability for small and medium-sized manufacturers, addresses their hesitations by reviewing data from corporate sustainability reports and projects supported by the Departments of Commerce and Energy. The paper identifies several standards used to improve sustainability that also yielded increased sales and retained customers and jobs in SMMs.

Standards address forever chemicals

Read the full story from ASTM.

New standards are helping to assess and manage the threat of PFAS, which can remain in the environment for years and harm human health.

GreenScreen Certified™ Standard for Food Service Ware

GreenScreen has released its standard for food service ware. The certification draws from the Center for Environmental Health’s extensive work testing single-use food ware for PFAS and builds on Clean Production Action’s GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals.

Recycled Material Standard launches to advance the use of recycled plastics

Read the full story at Recycling Today.

The standard is a voluntary, market-based framework to ensure consistent labeling of products that contain or support certified recycled plastic.