News / Archive for the ‘Collaboration’ Category

UL Buys GreenGuard Ecolabel

Posted 2 February 2011 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Collaboration, Ecolabel News | 1 Comment |

Today UL Environment announced (pdf) that they have acquired another ecolabel – this time indoor air quality standards run by GreenGuard Environmental Institute and associated testing labs AQS. This acquisition follows UL’s purchase last year of Canadian TerraChoice, the organisation running Ecologo.

GreenGuard are respected experts on indoor air quality, which can be complex to measure and certify given how many different sources contribute to a room’s overall air quality. The acquisition includes both GreenGuard (who run the standard and label) and the associated testing labs of Air Quality Sciences, Inc. (AQS) who have the testing labs.

Greenguard has two widely recognized product certifications relevant in the building industry: the basic Greenguard Indoor Air Quality, and more rigorous Greenguard Children and Schools. According to a press release from GreenGuard, the program has more than 10,000 certified products.

Clearly this is a valuable addition to the growing portfolio of UL Environment, and it will be interesting to follow how the brands and testing methods of each are aligned. We also wonder for both Ecologo and GreenGuard if their logos will show the UL stamp or if they will remain, on the surface at least, independent.

EU Gets New Common Organic/Natural Cosmetics Standard

Posted 6 December 2010 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Collaboration | No Comments |

Several existing natural cosmetics labels in Europe have come together to launch “cosmos“, a new common standard that covers natural and organic cosmetics.

The founders – BDIH (Germany), BIOFORUM (Belgium), COSMEBIO & ECOCERT (France), ICEA (Italy) and SOIL ASSOCIATION (UK) – have determined the requirements and common definitions for a common organic and/or natural cosmetics label in Euope “COSMOS”.

The principles that the new standard is based upon are:

  1. Promoting the use of products from organic agriculture and respecting biodiversity;
  2. Using natural resources responsibly and respecting the environment;
  3. Manufacturing processes that are  clean and respectful of human health and environment;
  4. Integrating the concept of “Green Chemistry”.

They furthermore seem to be taking an overarching life cycle and precautionary approach and state from the get-go that animal testing is out.

A schedule of commonly defined terms has been created and the criteria for five key ingredients found in most cosmetics have been set (you can download the full standard here). The final result will be two labels – COSMOS- ORGANIC and COSMOS-NATURAL.  The founding organisations have until Dec 31, 2014 to implement the standard.

Global Survey to Index Ecolabel Universe Launches

Posted 23 November 2009 by Jacob Malthouse to Collaboration | 5 Comments |

Vancouver — Monday, Nov 23rd, 2009 — Big Room Inc., The World Resources Institute, The Sustainability Consortium, and Duke University today launched a global survey of ecolabelling organisations.

Over 400 organisations are being approached to complete one of the most comprehensive surveys of ecolabels ever undertaken.

“This is truly a global effort. Industry, policy, academic and non-profit thought leaders from around the world came together to help develop this survey.” Said Dr. Anastasia O’Rourke, Co-founder of Big Room, “We are delighted to see it launched and are looking forward to the results.”

Ecolabels are logos that signify a product or service offers an added environmental or social benefit. As demand for eco-friendly products and services has skyrocketed in recent years, so have concerns about the quality and impact of ecolabels. Terrachoice, author of ‘The Seven Sins of Greenwashing’ identified two of these: the ‘sin of worshipping false labels’ and the ‘sin of fibbing’.

“Our aim is to create an open, harmonized index of all ecolabels in the world,” said Big Room Co-founder Jacob Malthouse “this is the first, and therefore hardest, effort. Over time, we expect this survey will regularly deliver reliable information on the ecolabel universe for anyone who wants to use them to make sustainable purchasing decisions.”

The results will be publicly released in the first quarter of 2010 and presented to the Keystone Centre’s Green Products Roundtable, a group of key green purchasing stakeholders in the US.

A Good Problem to Have?

Posted 28 October 2009 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Collaboration | No Comments |

Many different groups are coming together to discuss ecolabels, certification and green product claims. Everyone is worried about the problems of confusion, proliferation and potential consumer cynicism over any type of green claim. It seems that the green standard-bearing “industry” is at a critical juncture, one brought on in part by the popularity of green in the last few years and the creativity and enthusiasm brought by many different parties to the arena.

Big Room (the creators of has joined the “Green Products Roundtable” being moderated by the Keystone Center. This is a forum balanced by different stakeholders interested in the continuous stock-taking of the eco-labeling landscape; the question of what makes a good ecolabel and a credible environmental claim; and ultimately, the development of consensus-based guidance on green product marketing and principles for eco-labeling.

Anastasia presented to the Green Products Roundtable meeting in DC on October 16 some of the latest data and assessment from Issues discussed at the event included the problem of defining actually what counts as an eco-label with the profusion of online tags, logos, links, directories, memberships and private labels now proliferating.

The scale and relative market share of ecolabelled goods and services was discussed in light of growing demand for such goods from some very large retailers and purchasers. Is the ecolabelling world ready for the big gorillas?

Various efforts to harmonize and rationalize the ecolabelling space were bandied about, with all the pro’s and con’s that such efforts imply.

Clearly this is a dynamic space, and Big Room is excited to be part of the conversation and problem-solving. Helps NYC to “Spec it Green”

Posted 28 July 2009 by Anastasia O'Rourke to Collaboration | 2 Comments |

This morning Big Room Co-Founder Anastasia O’Rourke presented a workshop at the American Institute of Architecture’s Center in New York on “ecolabels-101”, organized by the NY Industrial Retention Network.

The workshop aimed to help participants navigate through the maze of options companies seemingly have in making green claims – from “does not include PVC” type claims, to third-party certified life-cycle based ecolabels, and everything in between.

Guidance was given on how to assess the credibility and relevance of a label, and some of the costs and benefits associated with different types of labels currently on the market. Anastasia provided participants some conceptual tools, checklists, and information sources (such as to help assess how and when an ecolabel will help them to gain a market edge from being green.

The workshop participants ranged from retailers like Green Depot, to specifiers, to New York based SMEs with building products such as wood panels, architectural moldings and lighting solutions.

A key question that was raised by SME participants was how to get their own suppliers to change their practices in order that they meet a label’s standard. As small players, many SMEs have a difficult time influencing suppliers’ to change their practices (such as switching processing methods, or materials). And they are not always able to pay more to change to those suppliers who are able to help them.

Various suggestions were given, such as taking a collaborative approach with suppliers and other stakeholders, providing them a business-case for making any changes; and talking to other companies using the same suppliers to also exert some pressure.

What is clear is that getting certified is not a one-off activity, but rather one step in a company’s longer-term effort to become more sustainable and offer green-er products.