Dave Moolman, Regional Vice President of Shaw Contract Australia, shares his thoughts on the combined benefits of GECA certification and the Living Future Institute’s Declare label.
As a global company of our size, we feel a sense of responsibility for the impact our products have on people and planet. We believe in an integrated approach to sustainability. This holistic approach is defined by our guiding mindset, Smarter Impact.
Think about this. Food. A basic need and sometimes an indulgent luxury, but what do we know about this basic necessity? We are reliant on regulations and audits that govern the standards that processors and manufacturers must comply with, but we also have the power of choice with a nutrition and ingredients label attached to most foods.
As product sustainability has evolved from recycled content declaration to materials for human health, transparency is imperative, and the need for third-party certification and governance is the biggest key to success. The two most recognisable labels for this in Australia are GECA and Declare.
Our relationship with GECA spans almost a decade, and we immediately recognised the value in partnering with the only independent ecolabel in Australia. With aligned values of “a sustainable future for people and planet,” we will continue to walk hand in hand with the GECA team as we both strive to move beyond compliance, and develop new materials that push the boundaries of current standards.
We love the intent of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). This is what change is all about, and we need to achieve the hard goals to progress. Our global relationship with the International Living Future Institute allowed us to achieve LBC Compliance through the Declare program. Shaw has had the chemistry of EcoWorx® carpet tile third-party assessed down to 100 ppm against the list of Red List chemicals and was found to contain none. We also have our first compliance with our bio-based resilient products.
The most valuable outcome of working with GECA and the transparency that is demanded by the Declare label is progress. At Shaw, our innovations can drive change, and collaborations with respected labels can have these adopted into their metrics.
Our message to anyone who is involved in product is quite simple:
Understand that you are designing for public health
Recognise your role as an influencer in driving the use of sustainable building products
Understand the key attributes of sustainable building products
Learn which tools are available to inform the way you select and specify building products
A cautionary word to end on. Having a declaration is not an endorsement that a product is “healthy”. It is merely a declaration. So, compare the health benefits of a triple super-duper burger to a can of chickpeas. Both are governed by the same health regulations and carry the same nutritional standards, but the “health” aspect is completely different. And lastly, beware of the manufacturer that adds a veggie burger to their menu to appear healthy, the bulk of their sales and profit is derived from the meaty, cheesy, bacon burger option.