UL Launches Enterprise-Wide Sustainability Standard

by | Dec 7, 2011

UL Environment has launched the Sustainability Quotient Program, which it describes as a comprehensive system of assessing, rating, and certifying sustainability at the enterprise level.

LG Electronics, Intuit and Igefa, a German provider of janitorial and food service supplies, are all early adopters of the program, which is based on a series of auditable standards. These include UL 880: Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations, released yesterday, and UL 881: Sustainability for Service Sector Organizations, which is in development.

The standards assess initiatives in five areas – governance for sustainability, environment, workforce, customers and suppliers, and community engagement and human rights – and are available in Full and Focus Area versions.

UL Environment says there is still confusion over what “sustainability” means, and the SQ Program is intended to foster a standardized language and rating platform for corporate sustainability. This platform can also be used in risk mitigation, streamlining of operations, and actions taken to prepare for future regulation.

LG Electronics used UL 880 as a benchmark for its sustainability initiatives at a major South Korean facility, while Intuit is using the standard to help develop a supplier responsibility policy. Igefa, meanwhile, worked with UL Environment to examine its sustainability practices and coordinate environmental, social and governance activities across more than 30 branches.

Igefa chairman Kai Kruse said the SQ Program is helping his company to prepare for seeking certification in the future.

Under the SQ Program, companies complete an SQ Readiness Assessment, which gauges their readiness for certification against one of the standards. The companies then receive detailed reports indicating improvements needed.

Other program components include SQ Analytics, which companies can use to get their sustainability initiatives measured against a UL standard in preparation for a merger or acquisition, or for targeted risk mitigation; and the SQ Supply Chain Service, to support enterprises wanting to use the standards to govern how they interact with supply chain partners.

UL Environment says it will announce SQ Program work with more companies over the coming months, along with the first SQ-qualified sustainability practitioners and business applications.

UL, which stands for Underwriters Laboratories, entered the environmental management field in 2009 with the launch of UL Environment, its environmental services business unit.

Last year UL acquired the green marketing consulting firm TerraChoice, which manages the Canadian EcoLogo product certification program. This year, it announced it would buy Air Quality Sciences and its certifying body, the Greenguard Environmental Institute.

And in January UL Environment launched an Environmental Product Declaration program, to evaluate products’ lifecycle performance in accordance with ISO 14025 standards.

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