Led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Alison Kinn Bennett and Brennan Conaway of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the webinar provided an opportunity for standards developing organizations, product manufacturers, and others to hear firsthand about interagency efforts to develop guidelines for product standards and ecolabels for greening federal procurement.
The session included a robust Q&A session in which participants posed and received answers on questions ranging from the scope of the project to its implementation. All questions submitted during the webinar, including those for which time did not allow a dedicated discussion, will be compiled along with written responses from the speakers and made publicly available at a later date.
"This is clearly a subject of great interest to the standards and business community. And certainly, the topic of standards for green products is an important area of focus for ANSI," said ANSI's senior vice president and chief operating officer Fran Schrotter in her opening remarks. "The Institute is committed to working on behalf of our diverse membership, U.S. business and industry, and the overall public good to coordinate the standardization activities that meet critical national and global priorities."
Ms. Kinn Bennett and Mr. Conaway provided a high-level overview of the work of the Product Standards and Ecolabels Subgroup, a group co-chaired by GSA and EPA to ensure that the product-related acquisition goals of Executive Order (E.O.) 13514 are met through guidelines for selecting product-related environmental sustainability standards and/or ecolabeling programs. E.O. 13514 seeks to establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the federal government and to make reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority for federal agencies. Among other measures, the order directs agencies to ensure that 95 percent of new federal contracts require environmentally preferable products and services.
According to Ms. Kinn Bennett and Mr. Conaway, the subgroup is working to create an effective market infrastructure for green products that will assist federal purchasers in more easily identifying products that meet standards. In developing their guidelines for what green standards should be, the Product Standards and Ecolabels Subgroup relied upon documents such as the ANSI Essential Requirements, ISO /IEC Guide 59, Code of good practice for standardization, and ISO 14020, Environmental labels and declarations - general principles, which reflect the need for openness, balance, consensus, and due process in the standards-setting process.
The subgroup expects to submit a draft final report to the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) in February 2012, and to formally release the report for public comment in March 2012.