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NSF International

Quality Insider

Demonstrate Your Commitment to Earth Friendly Services

NSF’s Sustainability Assessment protocol evaluates and certifies sustainable practices of service providers

Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 14:42

(NSF: Ann Arbor, MI) --  NSF International, an independent global organization that writes public health and environmental standards for the food, water and consumer goods industries, can now certify service providers in a multitude of industries to North America’s first sustainability assessment protocol NSF P391—“General Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Services and Service Providers.” Organizations certified to the protocol will be able to differentiate their services and achieve preferred vendor status with companies and organizations seeking more sustainable operating solutions, including government agencies (local, state and federal) and others seeking to comply with U.S. Executive Order 13514—“Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.”

Developed through the NSF National Center for Sustainability Standards (NCSS), the NSF P391 protocol was established through a consensus-based process that included input from an expert panel of service providers, suppliers, regulatory agencies, environmental organizations, and end users. The NCSS has also developed sustainability standards through this consensus-based process for a wide range of product categories, including chemicals, commercial furnishings, flooring, building products and materials, and water treatment and distribution systems.

Organizations that earn NSF P391 certification are well positioned to compete for contracts with governments (local, state and federal) and companies seeking more sustainable services. For example, the goal of U.S. Executive Order 13514 is to ensure that 95 percent of contracts include products and services with sustainable attributes (e.g. energy and water efficiency, recycled content), many of which are included in NSF P391. Organizations expressing interest in earning certification include environmental consulting firms, building contractors, engineering firms, maintenance contractors, and installation companies.

“As a protocol that is applicable to all service provider types and sectors, NSF P391 could be used to support our customers by identifying services that comply with E.O. 13514,” says Brennan M. Conaway, procurement analyst for the program analysis division of the U.S. General Services Administration.

“The NSF 391 protocol is the first in the industry to help define what constitutes more sustainable services,” says Tom Bruursema, general manager of NSF’s Sustainability division. “The criteria in this protocol helps service organizations assess their internal practices, drive efficiencies, and attain preferred status in their markets by achieving more sustainable operational practices.”

How NSF P391 Certification Works

NSF provides certification to the new NSF P391 protocol through its NSF Sustainability division. NSF Sustainability helps companies develop standardized, objective methods of measuring sustainability that instill marketplace confidence and promote acceptance of more sustainable products and services.

Based on life cycle assessment and sustainability principles that measure the environmental and societal impacts of an operation, NSF P391 evaluates the sustainability of a service provider in three key areas:
• Environment impact—energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
• Labor impact—health and safety, employment practices
• Social responsibility impact—community assessment

Organizations can earn NSF P391 certification at the Conformant, Silver, Gold or Platinum level. Once certified, service providers are authorized to use the NSF Sustainability Certified Mark in their advertising and marketing, helping to quickly communicate their credibility as a sustainable services provider to government agencies and prospective customers. Monitoring and periodic reevaluation is required to maintain certification.

For more information on NSF P391 and NSF Sustainability services, visit nsfsustainability.org or contact Dennis Gillan at 734-476-2543 or dgillan@nsf.org. To purchase a copy of the protocol, visit the NSF Book Store.


About The Author

NSF International’s picture

NSF International

Manufacturers, regulators, and consumers look to NSF International for the development of public health standards and certification programs that help protect the world’s food, water, consumer products and environment. NSF’s mission is to protect and improve global human health. As an independent, accredited organization, its standards group facilitates the development of standards, and its service groups test and certify products and systems. NSF also provide auditing and risk management solutions for public health and the environment.