Certifying Green Tech as Green: A Chat with UL Labs

For the SPC program, once product testing is successfully completed, the product manufacturer can print the ULE SPC Mark on the product itself. Consumers can look at the product and know that it has passed comprehensive environmental testing and complies with “green” or sustainability standards in existence for the particular product and industry.

image via UL Environment

image via UL Environment

ET: What “green electronics” do UL Environment’s services apply to? What areas do you want to expand into?

Manca: Any electronics product is eligible to submit claims to our ECV programs. In terms of the SPC program, electronics such as computers, TVs and imaging equipment, in accordance with the IEEE-1680 series of standards (currently being expanded) are eligible.

Moving forward, developing sustainability standards that define the criteria a product must meet to be able to market itself as “green” represents an important new leadership role for UL Environment. ULE is leading a collaborative effort to develop a series of sustainability standards across a wide variety of industries. These standards draw on input from UL Environment Standard Technical Panels (STPs) comprised of stakeholders such as manufacturers, government entities, consumer interest groups, product installers, users and distributors.

Setting standards is not a new area for Underwriters Laboratories; our parent organization has been developing standards for more than a century and maintains more than 1,000 safety standards globally. UL Environment’s standards will be based on environmental sustainability criteria associated with the product’s manufacture, distribution, use and eventual disposal. The standards will provide the basis for identifying good, better and the best products with regard to environmental sustainability performance.

Currently, ULE is developing sustainability standards for doors, wallboard, ceiling systems and several other building materials, as well as electrical appliances and lighting equipment. We are actively pursuing standards development opportunities in other industries, including many consumer products. These standards development efforts will be announced in the near future.

ET: Please explain a little bit about the new UL Environment standards. What makes them different from other standards such as Energy Star or EPEAT?

Manca: Standards such as Energy Star are based on single attributes, such as energy efficiency, and ULE intends its standards to be more comprehensive. The sustainability standards ULE is developing will apply to products that are not currently addressed in existing sustainability standards, and will be based on multiple attributes from a life cycle assessment of the product and its materials and associated hardware. With regards to EPEAT, the standard used is the same: IEEE-1680. The biggest and most relevant differentiator is that ULE standards require third-party independent evaluation, rather than accepting self-declarations.

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