A few years ago, many retail environ ments suppliers put their sustain ability plans on the back burner to
concentrate on surviving the recession. But
that’s no longer an option for longterm
prosperity, or perhaps even for survival.
Pressure on suppliers to go green is increas
ing; according to A.R.E.’s 2013 Green Building
Survey, 89 percent of respondents have been
asked for green products or sustainability
In just the one short year since A.R.E.
launched the annual survey in 2012, green
product requests have surged. Last year, 55
percent of industry suppliers had been asked
for products with specific sustainable attri
butes such as recycled content or low VOCs.
This year, that number jumped to a whop
ping 71 percent. An even larger jump was
seen in requests for products with ecolabels
such as GREENGUARD or FloorScore—from 38
percent last year to 57 percent this year.
While not as large an increase, requests for
information about processes also are grow
ing. This year, 36 percent of suppliers were
asked not just about what’s in their building
products, but about how those products are
made—up from 26 percent last year. LEED
changes that highlight embodied energy
may be contributing to these requests (see
the article beginning on page 20). Nearly 18
percent of suppliers are even being asked for
corporate sustainability reports.
PROMOTIONS NOT SO MUCH
For manufacturers and suppliers, meeting
that demand may entail talking up what
they already bring to the table. The vast
majority of A.R.E. member suppliers—around
90 percent in both years’ surveys—provide
some sort of sustainable products and/or
Material sourcing was clearly an issue last
year for suppliers that wanted to be involved
in green retail projects, with more than 65
percent ranking it as the most important or
second most important factor in their abil
ity to participate in these projects. To get a
clearer picture of what suppliers are facing
this year, we asked suppliers how much they
agree that such sourcing is easy. Nearly a
third disagreed at least somewhat, suggest
ing that while sustainable material sourcing
Pressure on Suppliers to Go Green
green notes By Jo Rossman, LEED AP ID+C, GPAP
Not sure whether a
product is sustainable?
In the form of an inter
active PDF, A.R.E.’s Product
offers a series of ques
tions to help you sort out
the sustainability of a
fixture, visual merchandising product, or
material. Specifiers, buyers, and resource
librarians can use it to initiate a discussion
with the supplier. Suppliers can use it to
evaluate their companies’ products and
Download the the Product Sustain
ability Worksheet through A.R.E.’s pub
lic library at www.retailenvironments.
org. (Search for “Product Sustainability
Worksheet” or go to http://tinyurl.com/
ProductSustainabilityWorksheet Thesequestionscanhelpyousortthroughthesustainabilityofafixture,visualmerchandising product,ormaterialforaretailproject.Specifiers,buyers,andresourcelibrarianscanuseittoinitiate adiscussionwiththesupplier.Supplierscanuseittoevaluatetheircompany’sproductsandstrategies. MATERIALCONTENT
Y NIstheproductanassembly(that is,morethanonematerial)? Y NOtherthanindustrialscrap, wereanyrecycledmaterials usedintheproduct? pre postWerethematerialsrecycledpre- consumer,post-consumer,or doestheproductcontainboth? Whatpercentageoftheproduct assemblybyweightdothe recycledmaterialscomprise? Y NWereanyrenewablematerials usedintheproduct?
Whatistheharvestcyclefor therenewablematerials? Whatpercentageoftheproduct byweightdoestherenewable materialcomprise? YNDoestheproductcontainwood? YNDoyouhavechainofcustody certificationforsustainable harvestingofthewood? Whatpercentageofnewwood usedintheproductbyweight iscertified? YNDoestheproductcontain compositepanels? YNDoesithaveaddedurea formaldehyde? YNDoesitcomplywithCARB’s CompositeWoodAirToxic ControlMeasure? YNDoestheproductcontain adhesives,sealants,paints, coatings,orcarpet? YNDoyouhaveinformationon theVOCemissions?
PRODUC TIONPROCESS YN Istheproductproducedusing renewableenergy? YN Doestheplantproduceany energyon-site? YN DoestheplanthaveanEnergy ManagementSysteminplace? YN Doestheplantuse cogeneration?
YNDoestheplantuseanywaste- to-energystrategies? YNHaveanyotherenergy-saving measuresbeenimplemented attheplant?
Y NHastheplantbeenableto implementanywater-saving measures?
YNDoestheplantreusescrap, off-fal,orotherbyproducts oftheproductionprocess? YNHastheplantbeenableto implementanyotherwaste- reductionmeasures? YNDotheplant’seffluentand emissionsmeetallapplicable regulations?
Y N Doyouoffermaintenance tipstoprolongtheproduct’s durability?
YN Hastheproductbeendesigned fordisassembly? YN Areanyproductcomponents recyclableattheendoftheir usefullife?
YNArerecyclingfacilitiesforthese componentsreadilyavailable? YNWillyoutakebackanyproduct componentsattheendoftheir usefullife?
Y NDoyouofferrefurbishment servicesfortheproducttobe reused?
Y N Hasalifecycleassessment beenperformedontheproduct?
Whatthird-partyenvironmental productdeclarations(EPDs), certifications,orvalidations applytotheproduct?
Whereistheplantlocated? Areotherplantlocations available?Where?
Whereweretherawmaterials minedorharvested? YNDoyouhavedocumentation fortheproduct’scomponents datingbacktotheminingor harvestingoftherawmaterials?
CORPORATERESPONSIBILI TY YNDoyoumakeacorporate responsibilityreportavailable tointerestedpartiesannually? YNHasyourcompany’senviron- mentalandsocialperformance beenreviewedbyanythird parties?
Thisworksheetinavaiabefor downoadasaninteractivePDF formthroughA.R.E.spubicibrary atwww.retaienvironments.org. (Searchfor“ProductSustainabiity Worksheet.”)Orgoto http://tinyur.com/ SustainabiityWorksheet
Retailers weigh in on the most important
elements of a sustainable project in
A.R.E.’s State of Sustainability Survey 2013.
What makes the green decision?
Retailers rate the following as “extremely
important” or “very important”:
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
QUALITY OF VENDOR PRODUCT/SERVICE
Last year, 55 percent of industry suppliers had been asked for products with specific sustainable
attributes such as recycled content or low VOCs. This year, that number jumped to a whopping
How green are suppliers expected to be?
Retailers and designers ask their suppliers for:
Source: A. R. E. Sustainability Surveys, May 2013, conducted with retailers, designers, and suppliers
specific material attributes
such as renewable materials,
recycled content, lowVOC, etc.
Information on the
processes: Water consumption,
type of energy used,