As Sloan’s Director of Corporate Sustainability, Patrick Boyle is on the front lines of Sloan’s efforts to improve both the environment and the impact that Sloan products have on the people that use them every day. Boyle was recently appointed as chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Water Efficiency Technical Advisory Group and will serve in that role for the next two years.
How do water efficiency partnerships help maximize the global impact of your sustainability efforts?
It's important for us to work with like-minded groups across the world. At Sloan, we're good at what we do, and our partners—WaterSense, the USGBC, and the Alliance for Water Stewardship, just to name a few—are really good at what they do, as well. Partnerships allow us to expand our audience, and when we work together, the result is a stronger message.
What are your primary goals as the new chairman of USGBC’s Water Efficiency Technical Advisory Group?
The WETAG assembles some of the best thought leaders in the water stewardship space from across the globe. We have representation from across North American and Mexico, Lebanon and Brazil. As Chairman I'm responsible for leading each meeting, working with USGBC staff to set agendas and facilitating discussion. With a large group calling in from across the world it’s important for me to summarize points of agreement, disagreement, or items for further discussion in order to move the group toward consensus. Our specific committee is responsible for upholding the transparency, flexibility, feasibility and technical robustness of the Water Efficiency credit in the LEED certification program.
How is the sustainability discussion beginning to change as we begin a new decade?
I see two major sustainability topics leading most conversations. The first is climate change and more specifically carbon reductions, and the second being health and wellness. There is still a need to educate people on the importance of water conservation and good water stewardship, but the need to reduce carbon emissions is paramount as scientists correlate the increase in atmospheric carbon to climate change. States, cities and businesses are implementing strategies to reduce their carbon emission to help do their part to mitigate the impacts of global climate change.
The building industry has begun to focus more on occupant health and wellbeing as they look beyond the singular focus of environmental impacts. LEED set the standard on measuring the environmental impact of buildings and now the WELL building certification program is setting the standard on how buildings impact the health and wellness of its occupants. WELL identifies over 100 performance metrics, design strategies and policies to improve human health, well-being and comfort of building occupants. Buildings can certify to Platinum, Gold or Silver levels based on how the perform in the following categories: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind. This is a different look at building performance, but one that is gaining momentum and growing in reach.
Has the recent movement toward wellness made Health Product Declarations (HPDs) even more important?
Yes, wellness is really becoming an important topic. HPDs are a tool that closely examine what a product is made of and any potential health concerns that may come along with the specific chemicals associated with that product. Think of them as an ingredient label for construction products and interior furnishings to help identify the impacts they may have on human health. This focus on material health shows that the industry has embarked on a journey to the next level in sustainability. The acceptance and increase of HPD’s and WELL projects indicates that we’re in a new age of transparency, and it’s changing the building materials conversation for good.
How are Sloan’s new online sustainability resources (Sustainability Calculator, Green Product Finder, etc.) helping make life easier for Sloan customers?
The feedback I’ve received from our customers has been very positive, and our latest resources have proven to be effective learning tools for a lot of people. For those who may be new to some of the latest ideas pertaining to sustainability, being able to easily access these online resources in such a digestible format can really help them understand the various standards.
For example, our Sustainability Calculator enables customers to add up their water savings based on their specific Sloan product to then provide a sustainability score. Our sustainability resources are also designed to raise awareness. I’ve talked to several architects, designers, engineers, and building owners that didn't realize Sloan was also on board with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), HPDs, declare labels, and carbon off-setting.
How is Sloan taking the initiative to solve sustainability issues across the world, given its expanding footprint in regions like Latin America and India?
As a sustainable business and a leader in the water stewardship space I think it's our duty to educate people and offer high quality water conservation products all across the world. As global population continues to grow, much of that population is moving to urban areas. The increased density will strain local water supply and this is where Sloan can help. Installing low flow toilets, urinals and faucets will alleviated the strain buildings put on local resources and reduce the total cost to operate buildings, but it also helps promote WASH – water, sanitation and hygiene in developing areas of the world. By providing access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene education illness and death caused by water-borne diseases can be greatly reduced.
This is the 13th edition in a series of Q&A segments with Sloan subject matter experts for their take on where the commercial restroom has been, what it’s evolved to now, and where it’s headed. A previous edition on healthcare trends can be found here.
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