In 2002, German chemist Michael Braungart and U.S. architect William McDonough wrote a book called Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. The book was a manifesto, suggesting that we rethink the existing industrial “cradle to grave” strategy of design and replace it with a more sustainable version. This strategy encourages the practice of upcycling, or transforming by-products, waste materials, and unwanted products into new products of better quality and/or greener value.
In the cradle to cradle (C2C) model, all materials used in industrial or commercial processes are limited to non-toxic, non-harmful materials (either synthetic or biological) that have no negative effects on the natural environment. The synthetic materials are meant to be used again and again without losing their integrity or quality. The biological materials, once used, can be disposed of safely in any natural environment.
Soon after publication, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry began C2C product certification. Originally a proprietary system, in 2012 the certification was turned over to an independent non-profit called the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
C2C Certified products are written into LEED v4, and choosing certified products can earn you up to two points for Materials & Resources Credit 4, Building Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients. The C2C Certified Product Standard is also recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the highest level across seven building materials and construction product categories, and is also recommended at the highest level for furniture.
According to Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute President, Lewis Perkins, “70% of Cradle to Cradle Certified products fall under the built environment and furnishings categories. We believe the new EPA recommendation of Cradle to Cradle Certified as a preferred standard for greener purchasing within those product categories stands to create additional competitive advantage for those manufacturers should they seek to provide their products to federal agencies.”
There are about 350 products from 159 manufacturers that have achieved Cradle to Cradle product certification to date. For information on getting C2C certification, visit the Cradle to Cradle website.
For more help on earning LEED points and making your facility greener, contact Vanguard Resources.