McDonough Braungart Product Certification
From their website: "MBDC is a product and process design firm dedicated to revolutionizing the design of products and services worldwide. William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart founded MBDC in 1995 to promote and shape what they call the "Next Industrial Revolution" through the introduction of a new design paradigm called Cradle to Cradle Design, and the implementation of eco-effective design principles". Their new management system recognizes products that conform to MBDC's Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principles. The system offers a flexible "menu" of certification levels that should meet the needs of all manner of product designers. MBDC aims to release the first certified products on September 1, 2005. MBDC also is creating a system by which companies who have certified products can license the use of the Cradle to Cradleâ„¢ brand for marketing. Therein lies the power. For some sample details, look beneath the fold.TreHugger has borrowed from the MBDC Certification scope document the following 3 page excerpt of the full, 16 page MBDC Product Certification procedure. Our purpose in including this lengthy segment is to give you a sense of the rigorous procedures that designers must follow to see their products receive certification.
Note: The MBDC "brand" has panache and the firm's principals are widely recognized. If the MDBC certifications become popular, and we certainly think that could be a good thing, it could transform the very definition of "green design" (or whatever else you may wish to name the discipline). In fact it could have the greatest impact on the designer who already sees their practice as "green", moreso than on the material suppliers and traditional designers whose products we TreeHuggers stereotype as creating "toxic exposures" or "resource inefficient" lives. Perhaps an analogy can be made to the certification of "organic" food. The pioneers of green design can have widespread societal impact only if their work is protected and nurtured by formal standards with "teeth". Yawn...we know these things can look boring, but there is good news: its not the government doing it, but one of your own!
The Cradle to Cradle Product Certification contains the following five categories of metrics, however only the first two categories are relevant for the Cradle to Cradle Technical/Biological Nutrient Certification.
1.1 All material components identified (down to the 100 ppm level)
All materials, sub-assemblies, components, etc. present in the finished product
at 100 ppm (i.e. 0.01%) or higher must be identified. All ingredients present in the
materials sub-assemblies, components, etc., at 100 ppm or higher must be
identified by their Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number and by their relative
concentration in the overall material formulation (MBDC will sign Non-Disclosure
Agreements to protect any proprietary formulation information). Extremely toxic
substances must be reported and evaluated at any concentration. LCAs and
other certification programs typically only examine ingredients present at 5%
(i.e. 50,000 ppm) or higher.
1.2 Defined as a Biological or Technical Nutrient
The product should be defined with respect to the appropriate cycle
(i.e., technical or biological) and all product inputs should be defined as either
biological or technical nutrients. If the product combines both technical and
biological nutrients, they should be clearly marked and easily separable. This
is more of a strategic criterion and therefore there is no calculation or metric
associated with it.
1.3 All ingredients characterized based on their impact on Human and
The criteria listed on the next page shall be used in the evaluation of these two
Based on the interpretation of the data for all criteria, chemicals and materials will
be "scored" for their impact upon human and environmental health. A key factor
in this evaluation is the risk presented by the substance, which is a combined
measure of hazards and routes of exposure for specific chemicals and materials.
The "score" is illustrated by the following color scheme:
GREEN Little to no risk associated with this substance.
Preferred for use in its intended application.
YELLOW Low to moderate risk associated with this substance.
Acceptable for continued use unless a GREEN
alternative is available.
RED High hazard and risk associated with the use of
this substance. Develop strategy for phase out.
GREY Incomplete data. Cannot be characterized.
1.3.1 Human Health Criteria
The following is a list of the human health criteria used for substance evaluation
by the MBDC Cradle to Cradle Design Protocol. The criteria are subdivided into
Priority Criteria (most important from a toxicological and public perception
perspective) and other Additional Criteria.
Carcinogenicity Potential to cause cancer
Endocrine Disruption Potential to negatively effect hormone function and
Mutagenicity Potential to damage DNA
Teratogenicity Potential to harm fetus
Reproductive Toxicity Potential to negatively impact reproductive system
Acute Toxicity Potential to cause harm upon initial, short term
Chronic Toxicity Potential to cause harm upon repeated, long-term
Irritation of Skin and
Mucous Membranes Potential to irritate eyes, skin, and respiratory system
Sensitization Potential to cause allergic reaction upon exposure to
skin or airways
Other Any additional characteristic (e.g., flammability, skin
penetration potential, etc.) relevant to the overall
evaluation but not included in the previous criteria
5. Social responsibility - corporate ethics and fair labor practices are published, and a third-party system for social responsibility is being implemented.
Depending on how a product performs in these categories, it can be certified at a Silver, Gold, or Platinum level.
1.3.2 Environmental Health Criteria
The following is a list of the environmental health criteria used for substance
evaluation by the MBDC Cradle to Cradle Design Protocol.
Fish Toxicity Measure of the acute toxicity to fish (both saltwater
Daphnia Toxicity Measure of the acute toxicity to Daphnia (invertebrate
Algae Toxicity Measure of the acute toxicity to aquatic plants
Biodegradation Rate of degradation for a substance in the environment (air, soil, or water)
Bioaccumulation Potential for a substance to accumulate in fatty tissue
and magnify up the food chain
Climatic relevance Measure of the impact a substance has on the climate
(e.g., ozone depletion, global warming, etc.)
Other Any additional characteristic (e.g., soil organism
toxicity, WGK water classification, etc.) relevant to the
overall evaluation but not included in the previous
1.3.3 Material Class Criteria
The following material classes are flagged due to the concern that at some point
in their life cycle they may have negative impacts on human and environmental
Content Presence of a carbon — halogen (i.e., chlorine, bromine, or fluorine) bond
Heavy Metal content Presence of a toxic heavy metal (e.g., Antimony,
Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt,
Lead, Mercury, Nickel, etc.)
1.4 Strategy developed to optimize all remaining problematic components
Once all problematic components have been identified (i.e., those substances
assessed RED based on the criteria listed previously) the manufacturer must
commit to the eventual phase-out/replacement of these substances. A strategic
plan must be developed, complete with budget and timeline, for the optimization
of these inputs. The implementation of this plan will be subject to an annual
review to judge whether or not sufficient progress has been made to merit
continued Cradle to Cradle certification.
1.5 Product formulation optimized
To achieve a Gold or Platinum product certification the phase-out of all RED
components must be complete.
1.6 Meets Cradle to Cradle emission standards
For interior products to achieve Gold or Platinum certification, they must meet
the Cradle to Cradle emission standards that are defined as the following:
• TVOC < 0.5 mg/m3
• Individual VOCs < 0.1 TLV or MAK values (whichever is lower)
• No detectable VOCs that are considered known or suspected
carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, mutagens, reproductive toxins, or
teratogens. Based on the lab chosen to do the work what is considered
"non-detect" may vary. For the purposes of this certification, anything
Labs approved for testing include Berkeley Analytical, MAS, AQS, and Syracuse
University. All testing should be done according to ASTM D5116 for small
chamber and ASTM D6670 for large chamber.