Assessment criteria refers to the issues considered in assessing how ‘healthy’ or ‘sustainable’ a product is. To do this ecospecifier considers both the product's intrinsic qualities and the applications in which it is likely to be used. All product listings include identification of the basis for assessment comparison, e.g. comparison of a flooring product against one or more common default market products.
The following criteria are used:
Energy and greenhouse
- Low energy in production – does the product use less energy in its production and manufacture. ie. low embodied energy in cradle-to-use stage?
- Potential less GHG/ODP downstream – does the product create potential to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances in use and/or disposal?
Habitat and land degradation
- Reduced terrestrial impacts – does the product reduce land-based impacts including damage to both natural and non-natural areas through processes such as erosions, salinity, vegetation loss, alien species invasion, changes in nutrient and characteristics of soil and aesthetic damage to landscapes?
- Reduced aquatic impacts – does the product reduce water-based impacts including release of nutrients, salts, toxins or suspended material into fresh and salt water aquatic systems? Such impacts can occur through land use change, waste water, de-salinisation or other liquid discharges, air emission or solid waste dumping, which could result in pollution being washed into aquatic systems. It can also include activities which are undertaken in aquatic environments such fishing, marinas and mining.
- Independent management accreditation
Resource depletion and efficiency
- Abundant – this criteria takes into account both the amount of material available and current and future needs for that material, whether from natural or recovered sources.
- Post-consumer recycled content – does the product incorporate pre-used material, e.g. kerbside recycling material?
- Post-industrial recycled content – does the product incorporate waste from the industrial process (i.e. before it reaches the consumer, such as offcuts and by-products)?
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) – does have the producing organisation have a concern and interest with what will happen to the product at the end of its intended design life? Commitments to EPR and policies are looked for, such as designing for disassembly and recycling and take-back schemes.
- Take-back/product stewardship – does the company take-back waste from the fitout process, or have some other mechanism with an interest in the installation and use/disposal phases?
- Reuse potential – can the product be reasonably expected to be reused?
- Commonly recycled – is the product commonly recycled?
- Eco packaging - does the product packaging minimise its impacts?
- Reduced transport energy – does the product have reduced transport energy requirements?
- Least processed materials – does the product use least-processed materials?
- Agricultural by-products – does the product use agricultural by-products?
- Rapidly renewable product – is the product rapidly renewable (regrows in less than 3 years)?
- Reduced material use – does the process directly or indirectly reduces overall material use?
Occupant and contractor health
- Low/reduced offgassing – does the product have low, zero, or reduced offgassing, e.g. of the volatile organic compounds?
- Reduced EMR – does the product reduce or facilitate the reduction of electromagnetic radiation?
- Reduced toxics or carcinogens – does the product reduce or have the potential to reduce the presence of toxins or carcinogens?
Toxicity to air, land, water
- Reduced chemical toxicity through life cycle – reduces emission of substance known to or suspected of toxic effects on humans or natural systems through acute and chronic effects. It includes effects from death, through to allergies in humans and growth inhibition to species loss in natural environments
- Low/no carcinogens through life cycle – a subset of toxic effects whereby the product has emissions known or suspected of causing cell mutations
- Reduced smog-forming potential – reduction in emission of organic gases and nitrogen oxides, both of which contribute to the development of photochemical smogs, predominantly in summer months
Other vital signs
- MSDS – does the product have a Material Safety Data Sheet?
- Ecolabel – has the product been awarded one or more ecolabels?
- Independent LCA – has an independent LCA being undertaken on the product and made available for review?
- Independent verification – has there been independent, arms-length verification of particular claims?
- Documented manufacturer claim – does the product come with documented manufacturer claim(s)?
- Environmental information about product – has the producer provided specific information about the environmental and health aspects of the product?
- Australian standard – is the product known to comply with Australian Standard(s)
- Environmental policy – does the company manufacturing the product have a Corporate Environmental Policy and public reporting in place?
- ISO/AS14001 – does the product have independent certification of an environmental management system to ISO 14001?
For more information on vital signs see data assurance levels at Outcomes, Green Star credits & data assurance levels.