American High-Performance Buildings Coalition: making buildings better (for vinyl, treated wood and chemical companies)
What do the American Chemistry Council, the Vinyl Institute, the Vinyl Siding Institute, the Treated Wood Council, and the Adhesives and Sealants Council all have in common? They've all joined forces to create the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition. The coalition is intended to fight what they call the “arbitrary chemical restrictions” in the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED v4 rating system.
USGBC released a statement saying, “We welcome the announcement of the formation, but as Ronald Reagan once said, we will ‘trust but verify.’”
It's a pretty safe bet that the AHPBC standards will be lower than LEED's (otherwise the likes of the Vinyl Institute wouldn't be promoting it), so there is some danger that organizations looking for a quick and dirty green building certification will opt for AHPBC. Sophisticated building owners, architects and clients will know better.
Sending your child off to college; updating your workspace; furnishing a new business—while on the surface these three activities might not seem to have much in common, there is one thing they all likely entail: purchasing various electronics. From laptops to televisions, desktops and tablets, you and your checkbook might find yourself overwhelmed by choices, but what many people forget to consider is that our environment, too, feels the effects of these purchases.
Just five years ago it was estimated that a mere 10% of all discarded cell phones were recycled—leaving the rest to become toxic trash. While some progress has been made over the years as public awareness of the issue has grown, more still needs to be done. Now enter EPEAT, or what's otherwise known as the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool.
Established by the EPA in 2006, the EPEAT uses 51 criteria to assess a product's efficiency and sustainability. Depending on how well a product measures up, it can be labeled either gold, silver or bronze—gold being the most eco-friendly.
Housing a searchable registry on its website, EPEAT is making it easier for consumers everywhere to make smarter electronic decisions. Products are divided based on environmental ranking as well as product type. With nearly 3,000 products from approximately 40 manufacturers meeting their qualifications, visitors to the site will find no shortage of options. Big name brands like Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Panasonic are just some of the companies with products making the cut.
In its short existence, EPEAT has made some significant progress, including having an Executive Order enacted on their behalf. Passed by former President George W. Bush in 2007, the order states that the federal government must use EPEAT-Registered products whenever they can. President Obama expanded on this in 2009 with an order that specified that 95% of electronic equipment used by federal agencies must meet EPEAT criteria.
For critics of the program who wonder what switching to more energy efficient, recyclable products really means for the planet, I suggest you check out the Electronic Environmental Benefits Calculator. Great for companies and individuals alike, the calculator measures everything from the benefits of recycling computers to purchasing EPEAT-registered products.
So, the next time you go to purchase an electronic gadget, take some time to check out the EPEAT site first. You might just be surprised by what you find.
[Guest blogger Maria Rainier is a freelance blogger who dispenses online education advice and useful data for students, instructors, and parents interested in the online education industry. She also frequently touches on topics related to the environment, health and wellness.]
When you bring a new product home from the store, it’s easy to get a glimpse of just how wasteful and inefficient we've become as a society. There are boxes within boxes and sometimes even layers of plastic and Styrofoam to get through before reaching the actual product. Granted, some of this is to maintain product integrity during the shipping process, but seeing mountains of unrecyclable materials makes me realize how destructive we are being to our planet.
Now enter PakTech. A packaging design company specializing in handles for the food, beverage and home goods industries, PakTech strives to reduce their environmental impact, while keeping their consumers in mind.
I first heard about this about a year ago when my niece came home from college. She mentioned that one of her classmates had brought a six-pack held together by the unfamiliar handle and, interested, I wanted to learn more.
Although a plastics company might not normally be associated with being "green" every variation of handle this company produces is made with 99% Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) HDPE plastic so that it can go straight into the recycling bin when you are done to repeat the process. Working with several companies from fruit juice producers to cleaning supply start-ups, Pak-Tech is helping the earth—one company at a time.
Around since 1993, PakTech is gaining lots of popularity among the Craft brewing community who appreciate its sustainable efforts and colorful options that aren't just eco-friendly, but also appealing to the eye. They are always updating their Can Carrier Applicator, making it easier for more small-market breweries to use their product.
Recognized as one of Oregon's top 100 Green Business a few years back, a feat rarely, if ever, achieved by a plastics company, PakTech is slowly but surely infiltrating more and more markets. As consumers learn more about the effects of harmful emissions and wasteful habits, they are beginning to demand more from the companies they support. The Stanford Social Review featured an article a few years ago about the accountability people are expecting from producers when it comes to addressing issues of climate change and environmentalism. PakTech is a company the public can rely on to do the right thing and be a good corporate citizen—we just have to do what we can to keep them in business.
So, the next time you reach for a six pack of your favorite beer or soda, give the packaging a second look. If it's not sporting the PakTech logo, you might put it down for an alternative that is.
[Guest blogger Katheryn Rivas is freelance writer and blogger who dedicates her time to discovering the latest online education trends. When she's not writing, she can be found playing softball or reading a good book. She encourages your comments at email@example.com.]