The Design of a Sustainability Assessment Standard Using Life Cycle Information



Sustainability assessment standards are currently being developed for a range of building products. This activity has been stimulated through the considerable success of the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED™ standard. Transparent life cycle–based standards can guide manufacturers to design products that have reduced environmental impact. The use of a sustainability standard can certify performance and avoid green washing. In this article we present a logical framework for designing a sustainability assessment standard through the creation of tables that award points in the standard to be consistent with life cycle information. Certain minimum principles of consistency are articulated. In the case that the life cycle impact assessment method maps the life cycle inventory to impact through a linear weighting, two design approaches—impact category and activity substitution—are constructed to be consistent with these principles. The approach is illustrated in a case study of a partial redesign of a carpet sustainability assessment standard (NSF/ANSI-140).