When in comes to sustainability, there are things we can change from the top and there are things we need to change from the bottom. In other words, sometimes the most efficient way to pursue sustainability is to make changes to policies and operations in governments and corporations. Then there are other times when we need end users of products, services, and infrastructure to change their behaviors. In these instances, the role of the designer is integral to success.
There are a number of organizations that are attempting to influence behavior through the creation of a brand. Here are 10 badges of sustainability that we think are doing a good job changing individual and organizational behavior.
“The USDA organic regulations describe organic agriculture as the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. These include maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.
Organic producers use natural processes and materials when developing farming systems — these contribute to soil, crop and livestock nutrition, pest and weed management, attainment of production goals, and conservation of biological diversity.”
“The Fair Trade Certified™ seal represents thousands of products, improving millions of lives, protecting land and waterways in 45 countries and counting. Purchases have sent $740 million to farmers and workers since 1998.
When you see a product with the Fair Trade Certified seal, you can be sure it meets rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. That means:
– Safe working conditions
– Environmental protection
– Sustainable livelihoods
– Community Development Funds”
“LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.
LEED is for all building types and all building phases including new construction, interior fit outs, operations and maintenance and core and shell. Unsure of which rating system to use?
Millions of people are living, working and learning in LEED-certified buildings around the world.”
“ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions.
Thousands of industrial, commercial, utility, state, and local organizations — including nearly 40% of the Fortune 500® — partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency solutions that protect the climate while improving air quality and protecting public health.
Since 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners have helped American families and businesses save 5 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, avoid more than $450 billion in energy costs, and achieve 4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions.
Over the lifetime of the program, every dollar EPA has spent on ENERGY STAR resulted in $350 in energy cost savings for American business and households. In 2019 alone, ENERGY STAR and its partners helped Americans save nearly 500 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and avoid $39 billion in energy costs.”
“Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.
B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The values and aspirations of the B Corp community are embedded in the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence.”
“The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management certification confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
There are ten principles that any forest operation must adhere to before it can receive FSC forest management certification. These principles cover a broad range of issues, from maintaining high conservation values to community relations and workers’ rights, as well as monitoring the environmental and social impacts of the forest management.”
“Cradle to Cradle Certified® is a globally recognized measure of safer, more sustainable products made for the circular economy.
Product designers, manufacturers and brands around the world rely on the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard as a transformative pathway for designing and making products with a positive impact on people and planet. From fragrances to flooring, t-shirts and jeans to water bottles and window treatments, thousands of products are Cradle to Cradle Certified. What’s more, a growing number of brands, organizations and standards also recognize Cradle to Cradle Certified as a preferred product standard for responsible purchasing decisions.
Currently in its third iteration, the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard is rooted in the Cradle to Cradle® design principles established by William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart. Standard requirements are developed through a stakeholder engagement process with input from technical experts, market leaders and the public.
To receive certification, products are assessed for environmental and social performance across five critical sustainability categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. A product is assigned an achievement level (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) for each category. A product’s lowest category achievement also represents its overall certification level. The standard encourages continuous improvement over time by awarding certification on the basis of ascending levels of achievement and requiring certification renewal every two years.”
All of these brands have been successful in achieving brand awareness among end users. How did they do it? The design of their brands have certainly played a role in achieving brand awareness, but if we look at the history of each of these initiatives, it is evident that it took a lot of work to make end users care about pursuing these badges of honor. For all of these initiatives, there is a clear sense of trust in the organizations that have established them. Some of these organizations are government agencies and others are nonprofits. In all cases, the organizations have developed groundswells of support through years of stakeholder engagement. The path to creating a brand that effectively changes behavior must include concerted efforts to engage key stakeholders. This leads to brands that command trust and respect. Designing a brand that changes behavior is really about designing an ecosystem of proactive stakeholders that are willing to associate with an organization’s values.