Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Sustainable Minds launches the SM Transparency Report™ Program

By Sustainable Minds on June 17, 2014

A complete solution for manufacturers to Design and Market greener products.

CAMBRIDGE, MA – June 12, 2014 – Sustainable Minds launches the SM Transparency Report™ Program, the alternative to the product category rule/environmental product declaration (PCR/EPD) process with equivalent credibility and verification – plus much more. Sustainable Minds will introduce the program to manufacturers and industry advocates on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 2:00pm EST. 

The SM Transparency Report Program:
1. Provides options for easier adoption of transparency reporting
Re-engineers the PCR process providing a more efficient and cost-effective way to standardize reporting and create product group definitions.

2. Delivers a strategic marketing and lead generation tool – SM Transparency Reports
Drives greener purchase decisions by making life cycle assessment (LCA) and environmental performance information understandable and meaningful; enables a manufacturer to describe how they are making products greener. A third-party certified SM Transparency Report exceeds the ISO 14025 requirements for type III environmental declarations.

3. Helps market greener, and promotes greener design
More than just a report, deliverables include the manufacturer’s product data in a private dataset in Sustainable Minds’ flagship Eco-concept & LCA Software, used in over 750 locations in industry and education world-wide.

Market demand for product transparency to know about the environmental impacts of materials, components and finished products, is driving LCA-based reporting, standards and certifications in many industries. With the introduction of LEED v4 in the building and construction industry, this demand has reached a tipping point. In response, manufacturers are benchmarking existing products to produce EPDs to help specifyers ‘check the box’ to qualify for consideration for a project. The presence of these reports, however, is not an indication of a greener product. Current PCR/EPD processes are not designed to deliver on today’s transparency demand.

The SM Transparency Report Program keeps the science and re-engineers the process.
It’s a new way of doing things using the existing rules to deliver more efficiently and effectively. The results are dramatically reduced time/hurdles to create product group standards and better deliverables to make greener purchase decisions easier, thereby rewarding manufacturers for making credibly greener products. Manufacturers can leverage their LCA investments to create understandable, meaningful, credible, consistent and affordable marketing tools – in the cloud. The process is friendlier to participants and to consumers of the information.

With the amount of green data growing increasingly complex, it is critical to help simplify and categorize the information into easily understood packages. The real estate, design and construction industries require a wide variety of stakeholders to have access to high performance sustainable product data throughout the decision making process. The only way to achieve this is to have data across multiple platforms from web to BIM to facility management. SM Transparency Reports put the information to work in a way people can use – and that manufacturers can re-use," commented Paul Shahriari, CEO, GreenMind Inc. and a leading authority on green building and the application of technology in the building process.

Originally developed for products in categories where no PCR existed or was unlikely to be developed, manufacturers in any category can now choose to create an SM Transparency Report. They are strategic marketing and lead generation tools that include the content required in an EPD, and more. SM Transparency Reports offer three verification levels to enable manufacturers to get started where they are. A third-party certified SM Transparency Report exceeds the ISO 14025 requirements for type III environmental declarations.

Organized into three comprehensive and easy to understand pages, manufacturers can present a product’s functional and environmental performance attributes and make LCA results understandable by describing what they are actually doing to make their products greener, giving the reader visibility into decisions being made across the product’s life cycle. Decision-makers can quickly review and make well-informed greener purchase decisions. Reports are in the cloud (not encoded in PDFs), freely available and able to connect buyers and sellers in one click.

Sustainable Minds has partnered with NSF Sustainability, a division of global public health organization NSF International, to provide LCA verification and report certification for SM Transparency Reports. Based on ISO 14044 compliant LCAs, when verified and certified, they are new reporting tools to communicate LCA information used in green rating systems such as LEED v4 and Green Globes. NSF Sustainability’s extensive background in certifying environmental reports and sustainable products and services provides additional credibility for the contents of the reports.

“The development of SM Transparency Reports is an important alternative to help manufacturers of all sizes across the value chain meet the market’s demand for science-based, verified sustainability information, delivered in a meaningful, understandable way,” explained Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF International’s Sustainability Division. “This increasing demand is driving the need for solutions that help manufacturers not only report but also to design more sustainable products and demonstrate continuous improvement.”

TOTO USA, the world’s largest manufacturer of bathroom fixtures and fittings, was the first company to publish SM Transparency Reports. After the introduction of LEED v4, and with no PCR that applied to their high-efficiency toilets, TOTO wanted a tool to provide transparency claim verification and LEED v4 credit for their customers. TOTO helped drive the development of SM Transparency Reports with NSF Sustainability providing LCA verification and certification. View a TOTO Transparency Report.

Since the successful introduction at Greenbuild 2013, Sustainable Minds has been developing its methodology to complete the program’s offering – the SM Transparency Report™ Framework. Influenced by the efforts in Europe to streamline and standardize PCR development, the SM Transparency Report Framework is based on EN15804+A1 and is in compliance with ISO 14040-44 and 14025. It provides a comprehensive LCA-based, harmonized and user-friendly way to create product group definitions (PGD) up front to enhance consistency in product transparency reporting. PGDs describe baseline functional and environmental attributes of products that compete for/deliver the SAME function or purpose. This allows manufacturers to demonstrate product advantage and differentiation.

The Framework separates the LCA general rules that apply to any product (Part A) from the specific rules that only apply to products that deliver the same functional performance (Part B) resulting in:

  • Faster and efficient development of a new PGD
  • Less inconsistency and higher harmonization
  • Simpler route to transparency and higher stimulation for market-driven continuous environmental improvement

‘PCR’ and ‘EPD’ are defined ISO terms. Because the SM Transparency Report Framework is a re-engineered process, it uses its own terminology while still meeting or exceeding the ISO 14025 guidelines. By definition it is a new alternative, based on current and accepted industry standards and best practices.

PGDs in review: there are three plumbing industry PGDs now available for public consultation. The SM Transparency Report Framework is predicated on transparency, openness and the participation of stakeholders and interested parties. The Framework exceeds the ISO 14025 Section 5.5 requirement of open consultation in that the PGD creation process utilizes public consultation.

When a PGD request is submitted, the SM Technical Advisory Board (TAB) reviews it and a public notification is sent. To keep the process efficient, the public consultation period is 2 weeks. The TAB reviews and considers all comments and proposed changes, adjusts as appropriate. Modifications may be made to the PGD and/or to supplement the rules in Part A. The final approved PGD is returned to the initiator(s) to proceed with their LCA. In the future, should a PGD require additional rules, this same process can be implemented and the PGD updated.

“The market demand for product transparency and credibly greener products requires doing things differently, which can only be accomplished though using efficient and scalable technology solutions. Sustainable Minds’ mission from day one has been to operationalize environmental performance in product development and manufacturing worldwide. We started by providing knowledge and tools to design greener. The launch of the SM Transparency Report Program introduces our vision to become the industry standard B2B cloud platform for designing and marketing greener products across the value chain,” said Terry Swack, Founder & CEO, Sustainable Minds. “We are excited to work with NSF, a global leader in this industry, to substantively accelerate the reach of this offering. Building on the success of the introduction, the market has validated the tremendous need for what the program offers. What we're doing in the long run is helping manufacturers make things better.”

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About Sustainable Minds® Sustainable Minds cloud software and services help product manufacturers, across the value chain, Design & Market greener products. The company is dedicated to operationalizing environmental performance in mainstream product development and manufacturing in an understandable, empowering and credible way. Sustainable Minds ecodesign & life cycle assessment (LCA) software for greener product innovation is used by industry and education in more than 750 locations in 75 countries worldwide. The company's easy-to-use, standardized solutions make it possible for manufacturers, large and small, to dynamically evaluate, compare and improve their products' environmental performance by integrating life cycle thinking and LCA into their product development and marketing processes. The company was recognized by Gartner® in its 2013 Cool Vendor Report as ‘innovative, impactful and intriguing.’ To learn why visit sustainableminds.com or call 617 401-2269. Follow Sustainable Minds on Twitter @sustainablemnds

About NSF International Founded in 1944, NSF International is a global independent public health and safety organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, water and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). NSF International has been collaborating with the World Health Organization since 1997 in water quality and safety, food safety and indoor environments. NSF Sustainability draws upon this expertise to help companies green their products, operations, systems and supply chains. NSF also founded the National Center for Sustainability Standards, a national initiative to support the development of sustainability standard activities. Additional NSF services include NSF Education and Training, safety audits for the food and water industries, nutritional/dietary supplement certification, organic certification provided by QAI (Quality Assurance International) and management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations (NSF-ISR).

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