CSI GreenFormat Sustainable Product Reporting Guide Project

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CSI GreenFormat Sustainable Product Reporting Guide Project

    CSI GreenFormat Sustainable Product Reporting Guide Project

    Final Report to the Charles Pankow Foundation

    Roger J Grant, Principal Investigator and Report Author


    Final Report for:

    The Pankow Foundation

    GreenFormat Sustainable Product Reporting Guide Project

    May 2009

    Version: Final Dated: 2009-05-20 Prepared By: Roger Grant


     Summary ......................................................................................................................... 3Status of Activities .......................................................................................................... 4 Summary of Funds Expended: ......................................................................................... 5 Summary of Project Goals and Objectives and related Deliverables................................. 5 Dissemination Plan .......................................................................................................... 6 Observations and Conclusions ......................................................................................... 9 Appendix A: Project Contributors ................................................................................. 11 Appendix B: GreenFormat Web Site Main Screen Views ............................................. 12 Appendix C: List of Advertisements, Articles and Press Releases .................................. 16

    CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 2


    The GreenFormat project has proceeded in accordance with the CPF Grant Agreement 05-07 dated 2007-10-08 and amended by the Addendum to Research Grant Agreement Grant

    Agreement No. 05-07 dated 2008-11-21. This Final Report provides a summary of the work on the project, status of deliverables and the Dissemination Plan for releasing the results of the project to industry.

The development of GreenFormat was a joint effort of the following groups. Each had an

    important role in the project outcome.

    ; CSI Sustainable Facilities Task Team - this group of CSI members created the First Draft

    of GreenFormat, representing the interests of the sustainable design community and

    product manufacturers.

    ; CSI GreenFormat Program Management Task Team - this group of CSI members took

    over the development of the format at the start of the beta test period to work with

    product manufacturers to refine the First Draft and advise the efforts of CSI staff and

    consultants to develop it into a useful CSI format for both manufacturers and those

    seeking information on green building products.

    ; BuildingGreen, LLC - consultants to CSI during the development providing technical

    expertise on “green” and sustainable practices and procedures.

    ; CSI staff - administered the project, worked with task team members, consultants and

    industry contacts to coordinate efforts of all involved and produce final format and


    ; Nearly 150 product manufacturers participated in the beta test phase and provided their

    comments on the structure, usefulness and completeness of the format.

    Appendix A identifies the individuals involved in delivering the Grant. Their knowledge and practical experience formed the basis for the development work and the resultant format.

    In general, this report concludes that the primary goal of the project -- to create a standard format for the reporting of key properties of products that impact sustainability -- has been met. This is demonstrated by the release of GreenFormat Version 1.0 and the availability of the GreenFormat

    website at The two versions of the format are available for download at the site, the format version for the designer/specifier/contractor/consultant community and a questionnaire version for the manufacturer community. The ability to submit information about products in accordance with the format and the ability to find information about product sustainability is available to the industry from the site. As anticipated in the project plan and proposal, work continues on refining and maintaining GreenFormat, and on gaining widespread

    use and adoption. An overview of the main screens on the site and their primary function is included in Appendix B.

CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 3

Status of Activities

    The status of identified activities for the project is:

WBS Description Due Status as of 08.31.08


    AT1 Prepare for Oct-07 This activity is complete.

    expanded Alpha


    AT2 Conduct Alpha Feb-08 This activity is complete.

    Test with target

    group of


    WS1 Conduct Task Feb-08 This activity is complete.

    Team and Industry



    PR1 Submit Interim Mar-08 Submitted 04.15.08.

    Progress Report

    GF1 Prepare supporting Jan-08 This activity is substantially complete. Terms of Use and Product

    materials and Listing Agreements are in place. Supporting materials to explain the

    agreements format and use of the website are available on the site. Expansion and

    refinement of these materials will continue.

    GF2 Prepare Apr-08 This activity was completed with the launch of GreenFormat in

    GreenFormat V1.0 November 2008.

     Program Apr-08 Programming of the site to support the beta test was completed.

    GF3 GreenFormat web

    site refinements

    BT1 Conduct public Jul-08 The first phase of the Beta test with manufacturers was conducted as

    Beta Test planned. 197 products were entered into GreenFormat during the

    testing phase, providing sufficient feedback on the process from

    manufacturers to allow the task team to make needed adjustments

    based on stakeholder review. Since the launch of GreenFormat in

    November 2008, CSI has received numerous comments from the

    public (non-manufacturer) user community. These are being logged

    and many have been addressed in the subsequent releases of the

    website since launch. All comments received will be addressed and if

    warranted dealt with in subsequent site and GreenFormat releases.

    PR2 Submit Second Jul-08 Submitted 09.05.08.

    Interim Progress


    BT2 Program additional Aug-08 Programming to address bugs, refine functionality and enhance the

    GreenFormat product listing interface has continued and will continue up to and

    website through the launch of the site. A comprehensive site review was

    refinements undertaken by CSI staff, the website developer Public Display and the

    GFPMTT, resulting in a release plan for the site through the middle of

    2009. A second release after the November launch was deployed in

    February 2009 that improved functionality, speed, stability and the

    ability to collect charges from manufacturers. Work on a subsequent

    release is anticipated, but at this time it is beyond CSI’s ability to fund

    until the site shows some ability to generate listing revenue. The

    current deployment is stable and functional.

    GF3 Develop Ongoing Aug-08 A draft GreenFormat Standard Operations Guide has been prepared

    Data management and is in the process of being reviewed and refined by the task team.

    procedures This task has changed somewhat since the original proposal -- CSI

    staff is providing more of these services than BGI as was originally CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 4

    envisioned. It is anticipated that the Operations Guide will be reviewed

    and refined over the next several months with the goal of completing it

    at the next GFPMTT workshop in August or September 2009.

    GF4 Populate Oct-08 As of 2009-03-15, there are nearly 800 product listings live or in

    GreenFormat v1.0 process in GreenFormat from over 150building product companies.

    with product data Listings are spread across the spectrum from concrete to HVAC and

    Controls with the majority in the Finishes division. This exceeds the

    target set in the project proposal. Efforts are now focused on

    continuing to significantly expand the number of products that have a

    completed listing. This is expected to be an ongoing activity.

Summary of Funds Expended:

    In the preparation of GreenFormat to date, CSI has expended a total of $203,208 of CPF funds in accordance with the revised budget. In addition, CSI and its partners have contributed $335,854

    of funds and in-kind contributions to the project for the following categories of effort to complete

    the work of the grant.

    ; CSI staff time to support work of task team and testing with manufacturers

    ; Task Team Workshop and regular conference call expenses

    ; Consulting on green product technology issues by BuildingGreen, LLC

    ; Website development work by Public Display

    ; Communications and industry outreach programs by CSI

    A final accounting vs. the Revised Budget included in the Addendum to Research Grant Agreement Grant Agreement No. 05-07 dated 2008-11-21 is on file with the CPF Executive Director.

    Summary of Project Goals and Objectives and related Deliverables

Goals and Objectives 2007-10-01 Proposal Deliverable

    1 A standard reporting format for manufacturers GreenFormat Release Version 1.0 has been

    concerning environmental claims, and other completed in both a Questionnaire and

    environmental attributes based on accepted Format version. Both are available from the standards and certifications. GreenFormat website.

2 Web interface to allow manufacturers to self-The GreenFormat website is available for

    complete and update GreenFormat for their use by manufacturers to list information

    product(s) that also provides open access to about their products and for the user

    completed product data forms for the building community to search for and access

    team to use when selecting and evaluating information. All product listings are

    products.accompanied by a downloadable report of the

    product characteristics provided by the


    3 A relational database for storing manufacturer The GreenFormat website is underpinned by

    product data with specific modules for key a relational database for storing product

    product categories built on the framework of listings in the GreenFormat structure. The

    CSI MasterFormat 2004 Edition - the industry database resides on a web server and is built

    CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 5

standard for accessing building product and functioning effectively.

    information. Both the database and web

    interface will be built on the same platform as

    4 Usage guidelines, procedures and a support Basic support materials for manufacturers are system to enable manufacturers to readily included on the site and will continue to be provide product information and help users expanded. Some support materials for end understand the information. users are also available on the site and will

    also continue to expand. Ongoing support

    will be provided by CSI staff, BGI staff and

    the GF Task Team. Procedures will be

    defined and delivered in a document to be

    developed as transition shifts from

    development to operation.

    5 Alliances with other environmental Discussions have been initiated with a

    information service organizations to leverage number of industry organizations and are

    the value of standardized product data. now able to progress. The organizations and

    the nature of discussions are identified in the

    Dissemination Plan that follows.

    6 An ongoing operation that promotes the open This item applies to the ongoing operation of use of the GreenFormat by designers and the the system that the grant helped create and is listing of product information by beyond the scope of this phase of the project. manufacturers while also funding the Ongoing operations are in place at CSI to marketing, maintenance and management of support the maintenance and ongoing the process. development of the format and website. CSI

    is committed to continuing the success of

    GreenFormat to date and making a long term

    viable resource for the industry.

Dissemination Plan

    Communicating GreenFormat to the industry is being done through a variety of programs aimed at two primary groups, building product manufacturers and those looking for building products

    designers, constructors and building managers. To gain broad adoption and use of GreenFormat

    requires simultaneously growing awareness and involvement of these two groups so that those

    looking for products can find enough products to see value, and so that manufacturers can see

    traffic to their product information and justify using GreenFormat.

To accomplish this, the Dissemination Plan includes programs to reach both groups in a

    concerted way. The following programs and activities are being pursued to disseminate the


    Component Activities

    1 Access to the The GreenFormat website is available for use by the public at

    GreenFormat Access to all completed product listings is

    website available under the Find A Product interface. Access to a document

    version of the complete GreenFormat along with supporting materials is

    also available here.

    CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 6

    2 Communications Beginning in the Beta Test phase, communications with manufacturers with Building have been sent directly to CSI membership and BuildingGreen lists Product through email and inclusion in newsletters. This program of outreach to Manufacturers manufacturers continues today.

    In addition, advertising is being done through the CSI Construction

    Specifier magazine and banner ad campaigns on McGraw-Hill’s

    GreenSource and Architectural Record websites. McGraw-Hill has

    contributed this advertising as part of its in-kind contributions to the

    development of GreenFormat. Reed Construction Data’s Building Design

    and Construction site also is running banner ads and a sponsored e-

    newsletter program. The ads and e-letter are targeted at generating

    awareness among both manufacturers and industry users. This program

    component will continue indefinitely based on funding and partnership


    3 Industry During the development phase, communications with industry through Outreach articles in the Specifier and other journals; presentations at

    Program CONSTRUCT, ECOBUILD and GreenBuild; and presentations at CSI

    and USGBC chapter meetings have been used to get the word out to CSI

    members and other designers and specifiers.

    Since the release of GreenFormat at GreenBuild in 2008, CSI has

    maintained a program of regular communications with its members

    through CSI newsletter articles, Specifier articles and articles in other

    journals. A schedule of these is included as Appendix B. CSI is also

    hosting a regular series of webinars to educate manufacturers and users on

    the format and website. CSI staff and task team members are also

    regularly speaking about GreenFormat at CSI/USGBC chapter meetings

    and industry events. These efforts will continue.

    4 Industry Partner With the release of GreenFormat, efforts to establish relationships with Program software and information publishing companies have accelerated.

    Discussions are underway with:

    ; ARCOM (publisher of MasterSpec) discussion initiated on

    connecting completed GF reports to MasterSpec and working

    with manufacturer clients.

    ; Autodesk discussing working with Autodesk Seek product

    information service.

    ; Building Green, LLC original partner in the development of

    GreenFormat will continue to work with us on using

    GreenFormat as an entry into GreenSpec.

    ; Building Systems Design (BSD) - discussion initiated on

    connecting completed GF reports to their SpecLink product and

    working with manufacturer clients.

    ; International Code Council (ICC) discussions initiated on

    collaborating with the new ICC Evaluation Service that will test

    and rate selected products for compliance with requirements.

    ; McGraw-Hill (MHC) another original partner, MHC is

    currently providing in-kind advertising through its publications.

    CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 7

    In addition, we are finalizing details to have GF completed

    listings available as part of Sweets Green program.

    ; Underwriters Laboratory discussions initiated on collaborating

    with the new U/L evaluation service and GF listing structure and


    5 Association Discussions and outreach efforts with other industry organizations have

    Partner Program been in process since the beginning of the GreenFormat program. The

    goal of these discussions initially was to communicate the existence of GreenFormat and secure comments on its structure. With the release of

    GreenFormat, the focus is on getting reviews by other organizations and communicating with members. Examples of programs include:

    ; Architecture 2030 CSI is a member of this organization. At a

    meeting earlier this year on building products, it was

    acknowledged that there is a need for information. GreenFormat

    was proposed as a solution and is being considered as the group

    works through its plans.

    ; Architectural Woodworking Institute AWI members conducted

    a very favorable review of GreenFormat and provided comments.

    The GFPMTT is in the process of reviewing these to address in

    the next version of GF. A program to involve AWI member

    companies in GF is also planned.

    ; Brick Institute of America preliminary discussions have been

    initiated with BIA.

    ; North American Insulation Manufacturers Association NAIMA

    members participated in the Beta test. A program of education

    and a special offer to NAIMA members is planned.

    ; National Institute of Building Science preliminary discussions

    with NIBS to connect GreenFormat with the Whole Building

    Design Guide (WBDG) have been held and will continue now

    that GF is available and able to provide content to WBDG.

    ; USGBC in discussion with USGBC to get a review of GF by

    the Material and Resources TAG, a step toward getting a

    potential endorsement or recommendation for GF from USGBC.

    6 Traffic Traffic levels and patterns on the site will be tracked on an ongoing basis

    Monitoring using Google Analytics. Metrics currently being monitored are:

    Program ; # of visitors

    ; Duration of visit

    ; Locations viewed on the site

    ; Referring source

    ; Listings created

    Through its first 4 months of operation the site has received over 12,000 visits with an average duration of nearly 6 minutes/visit. This ranks the site in comparison to similarly trafficked construction industry sites as reported by Google at 20% above its category benchmark for visits and more than 100% for duration.

    Traffic patterns will be reviewed regularly on an ongoing basis to measure the effectiveness of the dissemination programs and to monitor

    CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 8

    usage. It is anticipated that in the future, regular reports of traffic to

    listings will be provided to manufacturers.

    Observations and Conclusions

    GreenFormat consists of two parts, a new CSI format and a web service that enables the collection and dissemination of product information structured by the format. Creating and refining the format has been a relatively straightforward process with many similarities to other CSI format development efforts. We feel confident that the new format is well designed and fulfills the goal of its development and of this project: To provide a structure to capture and report the properties of products that impact sustainability in buildings. To continue to maintain its level of completeness will require ongoing maintenance. Plans call for an annual Task Team Workshop that will review comments received and developments in industry and make needed changes to the structure of the format. The first Update Workshop is planned for September 2009.

    At the same time, we also wanted to address the challenges being felt by manufacturers and those looking for information about products arising from an inefficient process for organizing and accessing “green” product information. This led us to deliver the format on a web site where

    manufacturers could complete a structured questionnaire and designers, specifiers, consultants, contractors, facility operator and others looking for products could find relevant information the

    GreenFormat website,

    The GreenFormat website is the first site that collects and consistently displays all the key information that designers and specifiers need. The market is ready and waiting for that. GreenFormat is ready for use commercially in that the questions are robust, the website is functioning well, and a relatively large sample of products is available for designers seeking information. The ability to browse product listings by MasterFormat numbers and see at a glance how many products are in each category aligns with how designers are accustomed to working with construction information. This will likely keep GreenFormat useful while there are still a

    limited number of products.

    When manufacturers take the time to complete the questionnaire thoroughly, the information provided is the aid to designers and specifiers it was intended to be potentially reducing their workload as well as the manufacturer’s workload. However, care needs to be taken to ensure that

    manufacturers enter enough information to make the listings valuable. If only an introductory marketing text is included for products, this can devalue the system. Some methods for tagging or labeling entries according to completeness, or even allowing completeness as a search filter, would both increase the usefulness of the site and encourage manufacturers to fill out the information more completely. Plans are to address this in the next major release to come later in 2009 or in the first part of 2010.The site does include a mechanism to comment on manufactures’

    listings which is intended to allow users to question listings and report inconsistencies, inaccuracies or identify lack of completeness of listings.

    Expanding the number of listings beyond the current level is critical to the success of the GreenFormat web service. It has always been understood that steady growth in listings would be needed to attract and keep users which would in turn attract more manufacturers to list their products. While the current level of listings is a good start, the number needs to double several times to reach a level where a truly broad selection of “green” products can be found. Some relevant benchmarks are BuildingGreen’s GreenSpec which includes evaluations of over 2000

    products and is steadily growing. McGraw-Hill Sweets includes general information from nearly 10,000 companies on as many as 85,000 separate products. A subset of a few hundred of these are CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 9

    identified in a special Green category. Our current goal is to double the listing counts in GreenFormat in the next year.

    Some additional increases in usability for designers would also be valuable, such as direct site enhancements or providing data to other sites that have enhanced usability. Direct enhancements could include:

    ; Improving searching capabilities and filtering functionality (for example, allow for a

    particular test-method or standard to be searched for within a particular division or being

    able to compare listings side by side)

    ; Improving navigation (for example, going directly from one product listing to other

    listings in the same MF04 section)

    ; Developing a cleaner at-a-glance view of content

    ; Better tracking of searchers as well as manufacturers could provide a clearer picture of

    how GreenFormat is used, and of incoming traffic

    ; Better tracking of user demographics through their login profiles could help identify

    types of traffic

    ; Customizing the user’s login account to improve its value to the user could mean:

    o Saving listings that have been researched

    o Easier retrieval for future projects

    o Encouraging returning traffic

    These items will be the focus of efforts to continue improving the site. All in all the general consensus of the project team is that the site is at somewhere on the order of 70% of its potential functionality currently. CSI plans to pursue a program of regular releases to the site to continually add features and improve functionality. The next release is currently planned for later in 2009 to coincide with any updates to the format that result from the annual Task Team Workshop.

    Clearly the work to create a useful website where the format could be accessed and used interactively has been more of a challenge than initially anticipated, and will continue to require resources to maintain and improve. CSI is committed to continuing to develop the site, but will need to pace the development with our ability to obtain funding from the manufacturing community through listings on the site. We are continuing efforts to expand GreenFormat’s pool

    of manufacturers through a variety of programs as described in the Dissemination Plan. It should be noted that while we are working to position the cost to manufacturers at a level where it will not be a barrier to their participation, we are embarking on this in a very difficult economic climate.

    The Pankow Foundation funding has provided CSI with significant assistance to help us get this project to the industry in a timely fashion. While we have more work to do to reach GreenFormat’s full potential, we have been able to make substantial progress. We expect that

    progress to continue as we attract more manufacturers and product information searchers to the site. With this increase in traffic and use, GreenFormat will be able to deliver to the industry the

    benefits of improved research efficiency and improved building performance resulting from the use of more sustainable products - ultimately contributing to better buildings.

    CSIF- CPF GreenFormat Project Final Report page 10

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