Below is an email I sent to the New Zealand Green Building Council as a reaction to their website Green Star NZ & Products/ Materials (http://www.nzgbc.org.nz/main/greenstar/elaboration/prodmaterial).


Hi.

On your website, you state that:
“When a building is certified by Green Star NZ, certain materials are able to receive credits. In order to award credits for materials we rely on third part organisations to rate how “green” a product or material item is.”

Unfortunately I do not agree with that wording. All green certification schemes I am aware of only rate a product for compliance or non-compliance, so basically black or white. No certification scheme assesses the level of greenness. This has always been part of the problem when finding good materials and particularly when finding alternatives to any given product.
ECNZ has some materials listed that I would not call green. This has to do with the requirements set out in the schemes. Requirements for insulation for example a virtually non-existent apart from requirements almost any manufacturer could comply with if they wanted to spend the money for the certification.
Which leads to another problem that many small manufacturers in general do not have the required funds to get their products (individually) certified.
I still believe that a local grown and milled cypressus macrocarpa has significantly less environmental impact than H3.1 treated pine. Unfortunately you only get the latter one FSC certified.
Green certification in general leads to a form of green consumerism and box-ticking mentality without considering the whole lifecycle and system. Environmental Choice does not consider embodied energy, nor does it account for disposal scenarios.
Your downloadadble proposal is only referring to Environmental Choice NZ and Australia (until 2010) while the website itself lists only Environmental Choice NZ. So I am wondering what the proposal actually is. To remain ECNZ as it is currently?

Is there any aim to chnage the system to a life cycle assessment system (impact assessment) or an embodied energy system?

Kind regards,
Ingo Ratsdorf

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