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New Susty Standard, ULE 880 Arrives. What’s Your Take?

| Tuesday August 3rd, 2010 | 4 Comments

This post has been updated since it was first published

Yesterday marked the launch of ULE 880, the new sustainability standard developed by Greener World Media (GWM), in partnership with Underwriters Laboratories.

ULE 880 covers five domains of sustainability with 102 indicators:

  • Sustainability Governance: how an organization leads and manages itself in relation to its stakeholders, including its employees, investors, regulatory authorities, customers, and the communities in which it operates
  • Environment: an organization’s environmental footprint across its policies, operations, products and services, including its resource use and emissions
  • Workplace: issues related to employee working conditions, organization culture, and effectiveness
  • Customers and Suppliers: issues related to an organization’s policies and practices on product safety, quality, pricing, and marketing as well as its supply chain policies and practices
  • Social and Community Engagement: an organization’s impacts on its community in the areas of social equity, ethical conduct, and human rights

GWM isn’t designing in a vacuum. In addition to publishing the draft, the company  is also eagerly accepting comments for 45 days. Members of the sustainable business community (that means you!) are invited to comment on issues large and small within the framework.

At first glance the UL880 approach sounds quite similar to the GRI indicators (PDF). GRI has 6 main sections: environmental, human rights, labor practices, society, product responsibility and economic, which cover most of the issues listed in GWM’s 5 domains. I count that as a good thing since the GRI approach is pretty comprehensive. I assume there are some key differences, though, otherwise GWM would just be reinventing the wheel.

I’m eager to review the draft myself, and I’ll let you know what I discover after I have a chance to do a through review, but I wanted to let 3p readers know about the opportunity to comment ASAP so that you can get started reading. You can find the draft standard here.


Joel Makower from GWM emailed me the following:

Jen: Thanks for the 3P piece. Just to clarify your question re: GRI — for starters, GRI isn’t a performance standard, only a reporting standard. It doesn’t tell you how good you have to be. Second, GRI is one of 30+ standards embedded in ULE 880, so it integrates with the reporting companies are already doing. But ULE 880 covers many things that GRI doesn’t. Hope that helps.

Thanks Joel, that makes total sense! I can’t wait to dig in.


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  • Amanda

    Cool! I tried to check out this performance standard, but you need to give Green Biz your name, title, company, and mailing address before they will even let you see it. That makes me think they might be screening commenters. At the very least, you should be able to see the standards without committing to being an official commenter! This process could use some more transparency, I think.

    • Dave Shires

      I doubt it. It's standard practice for the biz audience – capture as much info as possible. Allows you to have more information about who you're dealing with for future updates/promotion, etc…

  • Asmith55364

    Joel says above that ULE 880 covers many of the things that GRI does not… Is he able to elaborate on what those might be?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jen.boynton Jen Boynton

      I'll pay attention to that when I do my review. Weekend reading!

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