BSI now certifies to the PVC Best Practice Guidelines (an addendum to ISO 14001)
PVC is widely used in flooring, wall coverings, windows, pipes and fittings, conduits and cable insulation in the construction industry, but in the past it has been associated with health and environmental concerns in production and end of life management.
In April 2010, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) released Best Practice Guidelines, allowing developers to gain points towards their Green Star rating when specifying PVC materials that meet those guidelines. Following the release of GBCA’s Auditor Verification Guidance documentation, BSI is now able to certify PVC products and manufacturers to these Best Practice Guidelines.
Building developers need to achieve a certain amount of points to attain their Green Star ratings, and points are awarded when the materials used in the building meet the GBCA’s guidelines.
Prior to 2010:
The GBCA included a ‘PVC Minimization’ credit in Green Star tools, but found that substituting other materials for PVC did not necessarily provide improved environmental outcomes. The GBCA conducted a rigorous review, involving an Expert Reference Panel recruited from the wider industry.“We found that previous concerns did not take into account the significant achievements within the PVC industry in recent years, particularly in Australia and Europe, to reduce the environmental and human health risks previously associated with PVC building materials,” says Romilly Madew, Chief Executive of the GBCA.“Also, these concerns did not reflect the findings of independent scientific assessments, as well as comparative risk and impact studies, between PVC and non-PVC alternative materials.”
The Expert Reference Panel developed the Best Practice Guidelines for PVC in the Built Environment to identify opportunities to reduce environmental impact and health risk in the PVC lifecycle. “It includes criteria for PVC manufacture, use and end of life,” says Romilly. “Some examples include the use of mercury, lead, vinyl chloride monomer, and emissions from PVC products, as well as solutions to avoid landfill disposal.”She says the guidelines also recognise some innovative ways PVC manufacturers have reduced the impact of their products, particularly in resin, pipes, conduits and flooring. “Some examples include sourcing chlorine from membrane cell, non asbestos diaphragm or modified diaphragm production processes, and providing contractual agreements with customers for extended product stewardship.”