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UL launches sustainability program to help businesses quantify progress

Northbrook, Ill.— UL Environment, a business unit of UL (Underwriters Laboratories), announced the launch of its Sustainability Quotient (SQ) Program, a comprehensive system of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability initiatives of corporations at an enterprise level. The SQ Program is based on a series of auditable standards, including UL 880: Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations, with the first edition being released today, and UL 881: Sustainability for Service Sector Organizations, which is in development.

“Similar to the promise of electricity in the late 1800s that helped launch UL’s science-based approach to standards development and testing, sustainability is on the cusp of widespread public adoption and the spur for innovation. Nonetheless, there remains confusion over what ‘sustainability’ means,” says Stephen Wenc, president of UL Environment. “We established the SQ Program to foster adoption of a standardized language and rating platform for corporate sustainability that may also be used in risk mitigation, streamlining operations, and early action in anticipation of future regulation.”

Early adopters of the SQ Program are Korean technology giant LG Electronics; U.S. software developer Intuit, and the leading Germany-based European service provider for janitorial supplies and equipment, food service disposables, and personal protective equipment, igefa. LG Electronics used UL 880 as a benchmark for its sustainability initiatives at a major facility based in South Korea.

“Despite the economic downturn globally, business leaders recognize that corporate sustainability and sound business practice are synonymous,” says Wayne Park, president and CEO of LG Electronics USA. “The SQ Program enables LGE to measure its sustainability performance against a clear standard, and will help us communicate our results in a way that is in harmony with LGE’s promise of quality, consistency, and trust.”

In the coming months, UL Environment expects to announce the results of its work with additional organizations, as well as the first SQ qualified sustainability practitioners and business applications that will be available to support companies as they engage with the SQ Program.

About the UL/SQ Program Service Offerings

By completing an SQ Readiness Assessment, a company will be able to gauge its readiness for certification against one of UL’s enterprise level Standards. Once the assessment is completed, the company will receive a detailed report indicating gaps between the enterprise’s existing program and the requirements of the specific UL Standard for purposes of certification.

Through UL’s SQ Analytics, companies will be able to get detailed benchmark and gap analysis of their sustainability initiatives as measured against a selected UL Standard for the purpose of preparing for integration of sustainability efforts related to a merger or acquisition, or for targeted risk mitigation.

The SQ Supply Chain Service provides support to enterprises that seek to use the SQ Program and Standards as a foundation for how they interact with their supply chain. Supply Chain Support Services can be highly customized to meet specific needs in assessing supply chains from a sustainability perspective.

Finally, SQ Certification is available to companies that are ready to seek third-party verification of their sustainability practices. Recognizing that sustainability is a journey and many companies are in different stages on that voyage, UL offers “Focus Area” and “Full” certification that reflects the application of components or the entirety of a given UL Standard against the applicant’s operations.

About the Standards

The SQ Program is based on comprehensive standards (UL 880: Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations, published today; and UL 881: Sustainability for Service Sector Organizations, currently in development) that assess corporate sustainability initiatives across five domains: governance for sustainability, environment, work force, customers and suppliers, and community engagement and human rights.

Developed in collaboration with GreenBiz, a leading source for news, best practices, and research related to the greening of mainstream business, UL 880 represents the best thinking of hundreds of diverse stakeholders representing industry, the investor community, advocacy groups, academia, and leading thinkers in the sustainability space.

Learn more about the SQ Program and its associated standards at www.sustainabilityquotient.com.