Earth Day Awards



This year Green Building Pages will be recognizing ten change agents of the green building industry as part of the 2014 TOP TEN EARTH DAY AWARDS.  These recipients have led the charge, moved the industry as a whole and continue to raise the sustainability bar.

Last year, the 2013 TOP TEN EARTH DAY AWARDS recognized four different types of independent (third-party) product certifications which have set the bar in the building industry and beyond, three non-profit organizations whose work has transformed the building industry, and one government organization whose programs have all made significant contributions toward creating a sustainable world and building industry.

Green Building Pages TOP TEN EARTH DAY AWARDS continues to recognize personal, corporate community and governmental efforts that make our world a better place!






CRADLE TO CRADLE (C2C) is a third-party, comprehensive, multi-attribute product certification which covers the entire life cycle of a building product from materials sourcing, manufacturing to end-of product life. Green Building Pages applauds C2C certification as one of the most comprehensive product certification with its complete life-cycle approach including social sustainability.

The Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Standard employs a continuous improvement methodology that evaluates products across five categories of human and environmental health. Product certification is awarded at five levels (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum), with the expectation that an applicant will optimize each aspect of their product over time. The goal is to encourage innovation and the design of products that effectively and positively impact people and the environment.

Where many certifications in the market address one aspect of a product or its production are single-attribute certifications, the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard addresses a comprehensive set of five product life cycle categories relating to human and environmental health. It is significant to note that in order to achieve a certain level of certification, a product must meet the requirements for a given level in ALL five categories.






FOREST STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL (FSC) is a third-party, comprehensive, product-specific multi-attribute certification for certifying sustainable wood harvesting globally, promoting responsible management of forests worldwide. The Forest Stewardship Council mission is to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial protecting local indigenious interests, and economically prosperous management of the world's forests. FSC's forest management standards expand protection of water quality, prohibit harvest of rare old-growth forest, prevent loss of natural forest cover and prohibit highly hazardous chemicals, which are all unique aspects of the system.

Over the past 20 years, FSC has earned a reputation as the most rigorous, credible sustainable forest certification system. As of May 2013, FSC has certified:

            3,417 Chain Of Custody (CoC) Certificates in the United States

            25,723 CoC Certificates, worldwide

            35.3 MILLION ACRES Certified forest area, US

            174.7 MILLION ACRES Certified forest area, US & Canada

            436.7 MILLION ACRES Certified forest area, worldwide





BIFMA LEVEL CERTIFICATION (LEVEL) is a third-party, comprehensive, multi-attribute industry-specific certification by and for the commercial furniture industry. The Business and Institutional Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) developed the standard to deliver an open and holistic means of evaluating and communicating the environmental and social impacts of furniture products in the built environment. Taking into account a company’s social actions, energy usage, material selection, human and ecosystem health, along with numerous other impacts, level addresses and clearly communicates how a product is sustainable from multiple perspectives.

This is an industry that took it upon itself to establish measurable performance criteria to address environmental and social aspects of product manufacturing throughout the supply chain, including the areas of Materials, Energy and Atmosphere, Human and Ecosystem Health, and Social Responsibility. While it began as a second-party certification, it has since gone through a public review, been updated and approved as a standard by ANSI, and is now being administered by other independent certification agencies to make it now an independent third-party certification. Green Building Pages commends this certification for its comprehensive criteria that go beyond health and safety, including labor and human rights within the standard.

Presently the program includes three conformance tiers, level 1, 2, and 3, each requiring specific prerequisites and conformance to optional credits. level 3 is the highest conformance tier under the current ANSI/BIFMA program. ANSI is an internationally recognized independent, third-party standards development and approval organization.

The level certification program allows facility managers, architects and designers to evaluate products using a ‘level’ playing field, based upon the product and manufacturer’s environmental and social impact.





GREENGUARD is a third-party, single-attribute product certification that certifies a certain threshold of toxic off-gassing of a product in order to provide healthier indoor environments for schools, work places and homes. This certification focuses solely on toxic effects on human health by improving indoor air quality and reducing exposure to chemicals.

GREENGUARD Certification has established performance-based standards to define products and processes with low chemical and particle emissions for use indoors. The standards are primarily for building materials, finishes, interior furnishings, furniture, cleaning  products and electronic equipment . The standards establish certification procedures including test methods, allowable emission levels, product sample collection and handling, testing type and frequency as well as program application processes, toxicity limits and acceptance.

This has become extremely important as people spend the majority of their time indoors, where they face significant health risks due to repeated exposure to air pollutants in their homes, offices, schools and other indoor environments. Exposure to these chemicals and pollutants can lead to numerous immediate and long-term health problems. Creating healthy indoor environments in schools have proven to improve attendance and test scores, and in offices increased productivity and a decrease in the number of sick days.





USGBC LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN (LEED) Certification has become the gold standard of green building certifications, setting the benchmark for green buildings of all types and sizes, and creating a market transformation for the building industry as a whole. Currently there are more than 50,000 commercial LEED certified buidings certifying more than 10 billion square feet. There are now more than 34,000 LEED certified residential units and eighty-eight Fortune 100 companies are currently using LEED and their building standard.

LEED is voluntary and consensus-based, and provides third-party verification to one of four levels for green buildings. From individual buildings and homes, to entire neighborhoods and communities, LEED has transformed the way built environments are designed, constructed, and operated and addresses the entire lifecycle of a building with its certification criteria.

Just within the last ten years, LEED projects have been successfully established in 135 countries. International projects outside the United States, now make up more than 50% of the total LEED registered square footage.

Largely as the result of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED building certification, green construction has grown from $3 billion in 2005 to $58 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $122 billion by 2015.





LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE Certification has pushed the green building industry beyond green toward sustainable by raising the bar to net zero energy and water for its certified buildings. The Living Building Challenge is the built environment's most rigorous performance standard. "It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature's architecture." To be certified projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements, including net zero energy, waste and water, over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. This is one of the only building certifications where performance verification is monitored and required upfront.

Living Building Challenge Certification applies to development at all scales and is comprised of seven performance areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Each project is visited and audited by an independant agent to verify performance prior to certification.





GLOBAL REPORTING INITIATIVE (GRI) has created the benchmark for corporate social responsibility and over the last ten years has enlisted many of the largest global corporations in becoming publicly accountable and transparent.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a non-profit organization that works towards a sustainable global economy by providing sustainability reporting guidance. 

A sustainability report enables companies and organizations to report sustainability information in a way that is similar to financial reporting.  Systematic sustainability reporting gives comparable data, with agreed upon disclosures and metrics. 

Since 1999, GRI has provided a comprehensive Sustainability Reporting Framework that is widely used around the world. The cornerstone of the Framework is the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The Framework enables all organizations to measure and report their economic, environmental, social and governance performance – the four key areas of sustainability. As a result of the credibility, consistency and comparability it offers, GRI’s Framework has become a de facto standard in sustainability reporting.

Green Building Pages commends GRI for creating the comprehensive and consistent platform for corporate social responsibility, transparency and sustainability reporting.





NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BUILDING SCIENCE (NIBS) is a non-profit organization whose work focuses on creating high-performance, sustainable buildings and environments.  As part of this effort, they developed the WHOLE BUILDING DESIGN GUIDELINES which they have made publicly available on its website and currently receives over 500,000 users downloading 5 million documents per month.

The goal of 'Whole Building' Design is to create a successful high-performance building by applying an integrated design and team approach to the project during the planning and programming phases.

In addition to publishing and updating this valuable industry resource, NIBS has also sponsored the BEYOND GREEN AWARDS for more than ten years, raising the bar for the green building industry by recognizing exemplary building projects as well as innovative building products and initiatives using the WHOLE BUILDING DESIGN GUIDELINES as the benchmark for the awards.






NATURAL STEP (TNS) is another non-profit that has helped transform companies and corporations in all arenas, including those in the building industry. It provides business leaders and managers with a deeper understanding of sustainability as a business opportunity - rather than a liability, showing how economic, environmental and social systems are interdependent and how to use this concept to drive business strategies that will lead to a competitive advantage.

TNS's Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development enables companies to analyze performance through the lens of sustainability. The Natural Step's Sustainability Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) approach helps organisations define, assess and communicate product sustainability. SLCA can be described as an assessment tool and an accompanying process that gives a strategic overview of the full scope of social and ecological sustainability at the product level.





ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) has created numerous successful high-impact programs in the United States that have conserved our air, water and energy resources and have helped create a more sustainable building industry as well. Energy Star, Water Sense are two of the most recognized and used of these programs.

The 2012 Energy Star National Building Competition measured energy performance of participants for the entire 2012 calendar year. The General Services Administration (GSA), the largest building owner in the U.S., used this to track monthly energy consumption of its buildings using EPA's free online energy tracking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Just in the case of the GSA's buildings, the program calculated cost savings using the national average costs for commercial utilities of nearly a million dollars.

The 2012 Energy Star National Building Competition top overall finishers and top finishers by building category, and interactive map of competitors can be viewed at

EPA's WaterSense program has contributed similar water savings across the industry.






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