Editor's note: The following article is adapted from "Single Ply Roofing: Introduction to a New Sustainability Standard for the Roofing Industry," which appeared in the August 2011 issue of Journal of ASTM International.
In October 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," which established "an integrated strategy toward sustainability in the Federal Government" to "make reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority for Federal agencies."
As a result of the order, government agencies, including the General Services Administration (GSA), are looking to incorporate environmentally preferable product (EPP) requirements into their procurements. And state and municipal governments are following the federal government's example. Now, companies are trying to meet the government's demands for sustainable products, as well as market demand by consumers and retailers.
Although the executive order's policies are admirable, the challenge in complying with those policies is figuring out how to objectively define and assess a given product's sustainable attributes. In the roofing industry, as well as in many construction sectors, most sustainability standards are based on a single attribute, such as membrane reflectivity or recycled content. Additionally, a significant shortcoming of many of these metrics is they are not national standards and, therefore, have not undergone the rigorous consensus-based drafting and vetting procedures required by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).