Published on March 1st, 2010 | by Guest Contributor


What Does “Green” Mean? Interview with Chris Nelson of UL Environment (Part 2 of 2)

UL Environment created Environmental Claims Validation or Sustainable Products Verification programs for companies and products making “green” claims. This is Part 2 of my talk with Chris Nelson, Global Commercial Development Director at UL Environment, about their programs, how you can get involved, their public reception and program goals.

UL Environment's Mission: To encourage respect for and stewardship of our environment

UL Environment's Mission: To encourage respect for and stewardship of our environment

Part 2 of 2: Interview with Chris Nelson, Global Commercial Development Director at UL Environment

SJ: For new submissions to Environmental Claims Validation or Sustainable Products Verification, how long do you expect the process to take? What happens as standards evolve?

CN: It takes as little as 4 weeks. If it’s something that needs to be in a lab because it needs testing. It may push the dates out to 3 months depending on the type of testing required. It depends on the product, but the average is 4-6 weeks.

We offer a conformity and integrity function to make sure they continue to meet standards- this can be done on an annual/bi-annual basis. We’ve also announced 8 product standards in the past year for primarily building products. As we announce more standards we will continue to evaluate products. And as we continue to develop these, then we’ll continue to evaluate the standards, that’s why we picked “raise.”

SJ: What are UL Environment’s goals for 2010?

CN: First- to get our first wave of product standards established, so that the 8 product standards are active in the space. Then, publishing our standards.

Second- To accelerate our growth. For instance, we just launched an energy efficiency program and are looking to more fully expand the geographic reach of our business.

SJ: At the recent Chicago State of Green Business Forum you were on a panel with The Shelton Group (market research), Earthsense (marketing) and (reporting). How much of what you do is aimed at helping marketers be consistent and honest, and how much of what you are doing is setting hard standards?

CN: Both. If you look at the marketplace, people want to see standards. With over 300 standards organizations out there and you look at trust levels being in the teens, we see an opportunity. Our focus is to provide transparency and accuracy and to raise trust levels through UL efforts.

SJ: Are you currently working with any other organizations or with government agencies?

CN: We have no formal relationship with the EPA now but we’d like to in the future so that we can help support the growth of their programs. We want to reference as many partners as possible where we see opportunities to collaborate effectively. We don’t want to replace things where replacement isn’t needed, we want to partner with people and work with organizations in this space to improve the overall infrastructure and help provide market transformation.

SJ: What’s been the most rewarding part about this process for you as the Director?

CN: It’s been starting this and being involved from the very beginning and it’s been rewarding to see the growth–both in the organization and the number of companies we are working with. Peoples’ perception is changing, and people have been very supportive and positive about our investment and growth in the business.

SJ: How can people in the industry get involved?

CN: We create the standards with Standards Technical Panels and we’re interested in getting people involved in the process. This is transparent and collaborative process and we’re interested in involving as many people as possible, including everyone from manufacturers to environmental NGO’s. We want them to be balanced and fair panels, so that they are not manufacturer heavy or leaning any certain way.

For more information, visit the UL Environment website or follow them on Twitter at ulenvironment.

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