Thursday, October 25, 2007

Key "Greenness" Issue

David Linzer, CKD addresses key “Greenness” issue in October KB&B and succinctly encapsulates my personal opinion of the KCMA's ESP designation as merely a marketing tool and not a truly green indicator.

“Many companies have adopted environmentally responsible business practices that, in their mind, make them green. However, running a business responsibly and producing green products are two different things.”
David Linzer, CKD

For Kitchen Village, this distinction played a huge part in the decision-making process during our search for an affordable Green cabinet line to represent. While there are dozens of cabinet manufacturers touting their KCMA “Environmental Stewardship Program” (ESP) credentials as making them Green, does it? Or, does it merely reflect, as David Linzer states, “their capacity to adopt environmentally responsible business practices?”

I would submit that, in reality, many of the ESP-credentialed manufacture’s have not so much “adopted” environmentally responsible practices, as simply “purchased”, for the princely sum of $250, the ability to spin their existing practices in a new, quasi-green light. In my opinion, the ESP program has some merit, but for the most part the environmental impact bar is not raised very high.

A cursory look at the requirements as laid out in the KCMA’s ESP Brochure reveals that almost any cabinet plant in the USA should be able to self-certify, pony up the $250, and “help set a new standard in sustainability.”

The Program requires the manufacturer to achieve 80 points in five key areas:

Air Quality, Resource Management-Product, Resource Management-Process, Environmental Stewardship, and Community Relations.

I. AIR QUALITY – 75% of the Particle Board, MDF, and Plywood the manufacturer used for the cabinetry must meet CPA and ANSI standards for Formaldehyde emissions.

My thoughts: First, 75% - what about the other 25%? Second, is it even possible in our lawsuit and health conscience society to source materials that do not meet the CPA and ANSI standards? Seems like a slam-dunk for 30 points to me.

II. RESOURCE MANAGEMENT—PRODUCT – 75% of the Particle Board and MDF must meet CPA specifications for recycled/recovered fiber content. Manufacturer to have written plan to educate suppliers on their preference for certified hardwood lumber. Hardwoods purchased are certified through a recognized sustainable forestry program.

My thoughts: Aren’t Particle Board and MDFiber Board by nature composed of recovered fibers? An annual written plan stating a “preference” for certified lumber just does not seem nearly as strong as a Purchase Order stating a “requirement” for certified lumber would. Seems like part II is another slam-dunk for at least 30 points. Wow! already three quarters of the way to our 80 point requirement.

III. RESOURCE MANAGEMENT—PROCESS – Recycle, Reduce Waste, Alternate Energy, and Conserve Energy.

My thoughts: The Recycling and Reduction of Waste requirements as laid out seem to me to be “no brainers” and most likely are existing required practices by local waste management. Alternate energy is a great concept! With the lowest possible points to be awarded. My last employer had a written energy conservation policy. It was a Post-it note by the door reminding us to turn off the lights! Written, conserves energy, good for 5 points! Part III should be good for at least 20 points! BAM! We are there- over the 80 point bar. Write a check and let’s get ESP certified!

I will leave the research on the last two categories to your own humorous interpretation.

We have chosen to represent the Koch GREEN Cabinet series in the Chicago market because the end product, not just the process, is truly green. That is the distinction I seek to make with this blog.

See my previous post on “Why Koch IS Green” here.

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