A SMaRT Way to Make Decisions
Last week, over 10,000 water professionals joined together in Denver for the American Water Works Association (AWWA) annual conference to debate the latest issues and innovations in water and underground piping. This gathering came on the heels of the EPA’s latest announcement that over the next 20 years our country must invest $384 billion in water infrastructure. Colorado alone requires $7.1 billion < http://water.epa.gov/grants_funding/dwsrf/upload/epa816r13006.pdf > . However, when officials decide which pipe to use in these upcoming projects, they should consider more than just the dollar amount.
At this year’s AWWA conference, the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA) touted its new “SMaRT” certified product. “SMaRT” – Sustainable Materials Rating Technology – assesses a product’s health and environmental impact from cradle to grave, taking into account its many environmental, social and economic impacts.
Ductile iron pipe earned a “Gold” rating for its high recycled content, 100 percent recyclability, long service life, and its ability to lower pumping costs with its larger than nominal inside diameter. U.S. foundries that produce ductile iron pipe and already meet stringent EPA regulations, have agreed to go even further and minimize risks to employees and nearby communities by increasing the monitoring and reducing any potentially harmful production byproducts.
Developed by the same people who started LEED, SMaRT is independently identified as the leadership standards by the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, among others. While LEED certifies buildings, homes and neighborhoods, SMaRT certifies individual products. With Colorado looking to upgrade and expand its aging infrastructure, it should look to SMaRT certified products to do so.
As co-founder of the US Green Building Council and CEO of The Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability – the company that started SMaRT – I know that consensus and transparency are vital when devising environmental product declarations (EPDs). Too often, companies claim their many “green” attributes, when in fact they are just “greenwashing,” meaning they are pushing unsustainable materials and marketing them as environmentally friendly. Fortunately, SMaRT has gone through several approval processes involving thousands of professionals and 17 years of standardization to make sure we’ve got it just right. Now with SMaRT certification, families, neighborhoods and cities can make informed decisions about exactly how “green” their purchases are. After all, what kind of future do you want to build for your kids and grandkids?