Rule of thumb

There are an overwhelming number of rules and regulations governing all things Green. There are also an increasing number of Governmental agencies, not-for-profits and industry bodies producing information on sustainable issues, plus a riot of conferences, seminars and competitions. A dedicated portal for designers collating every rule, reg and resource would be heaven-sent. Until then, below is a guide to the main organisations designers are likely to meet.

British Council for Offices
‘More effective office space’ is the aim of the industry body that also publishes useful Green guides. Designers might look at the British Council for Office’s ‘Energy Briefing Note: Carbon Offsetting’, ‘Can Greenery Make Commercial Buildings More Green?’, and the ‘BCO Guide to Environmental Management’. See www.bco.org.uk.

Carbon-offset schemes
The value of carbon offsetting has been widely questioned, which could make design groups reluctant to start one. The main thing to know is that once CO2 is in the environment, it won’t go away – all you can do is offset what you create. There are currently no rules or regs on carbon offset, but the Government is said to be aiming for a British Kitemark scheme to try to regulate the sector. The Gold Standard foundation lists offsetters that comply with its quality code. See www.cdmgoldstandard.org.

Eco-Management and Audit Scheme
The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme is a voluntary initiative designed to improve companies’ environmental performance. The aim is to recognise companies that not only make a Green effort, but can prove it with an independently checked environmental statement. EMAS is backed by Government and the environmental regulators. See www.emas.org.uk.

European Standards
There are numerous European Union measures on Green matters – from sustainable materials to waste disposal and from proof of compostibility to the eco-design requirements for energy-using products. Designers willing to brave EU regs could start at www.europa.eu.

Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council is the best-known body promoting environmentally appropriate and economically viable management of the world’s forests. The FSC product-labelling scheme is widely used in print and packaging and its trademark is recognisable. The FSC is strict on who uses its logo, meaning its endorsement is a reliable guide to sustainable print sources. See www.fsc.org.

Green Mark
Developed by the London Environment Centre, this is a Green scheme geared to smaller companies lacking the resources for ISO 14001. See www.green-mark.co.uk.

Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment
The Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment is an industry body whose members include Sainsbury’s, Boots, Marks & Spencer, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Tetra Pak, Cadbury, Duracell, Nestlé and Coca-Cola. Green campaigners will consider many of these big-name brands part of the packaging problem, but they remain important clients for designers. Incpen lists its aims as ensuring policy on packaging makes a positive contribution to sustainability, encouraging industry to minimise the environmental impact of packaging. See www.incpen.org.

International Organization for Standardization
The International Organization for Standardization does what its name implies. When it comes to sustainability, it’s the ISO 14000 family of standards designers need to know about. Covering ‘environmental management’ and requiring organisations to ‘minimise harmful effects on the environment’ caused by their activities, most designers will come across these standards via the printers they use. See www.iso.org.

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification
The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification claims to be the world’s largest forestry-certification system. It’s an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation supported by 149 governments worldwide and covering 85 per cent of the world’s forest area. Founded in 1999, the PEFC reassures buyers of wood and paper they are promoting the sustainable management of forests. See www.pefc.org.

Websites for designers
There are several sustainability websites aimed at designers, plus a few they will find useful. Set up by David Shorto, print and paper buyer for Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, www.ppe.uk.net has good info on print, paper and the environment. Three Trees (www.threetreesdontmakeaforest.org) is a not-for-profit set up by three design group directors with the aim of inspiring designers to rethink their working cultures. Its Ten Ways book is worth a look (www.thomasmatthews.com/tm_sustainability_booklet_lo.pdf). Also run by designers is www.lovelyasatree.com, which includes information on environmentally aware design. There are some good design stories at www.treehugger.com, while www.greenpeace. org.uk and Friends of the Earth (www.foe.co.uk) are as good as you would expect from the veteran campaigners.

Waste & Resources Action Programme

A Defra-funded body, the Waste & Resources Action Programme states its aim as ‘creating stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products’. Wrap’s website provides information to individuals, businesses and local authorities to help them reduce waste and recycle more. Designers will find the business section of the site most useful in running a sustainable studio. See www.wrap.org.uk.

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