Evolution continues for the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified program, which evaluates and encourages the advancement of healthy and safe building materials. At a Nov. 14 press conference at Greenbuild 2012 in San Francisco, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) cofounder William McDonough, FAIA, was joined by Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) president Bridgett Luther as well as Make It Right’s executive director Tom Darden to announce the release of Version 3.0 of the C2C Certified Product Standard.

McDonough said that the new standard, which took two years to develop following its predecessor, “celebrates materials instead of bemoans them.” Similar to version 2.1.1, the standard evaluates products in five categories: material health, material reutilization, water stewardship, social fairness, and renewable energy and carbon management. Version 3.0, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, has a newly added Bronze certification level and makes the standard’s basic level of certification provisional, meaning that a company has shown “intentionality” to improve its products, Luther said.

Products can now achieve five levels of certification: basic, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The product’s overall certification level is only as high as its lowest ranking in the five evaluation categories. The Platinum certification label has yet to be attained by any product since C2C’s founding 15 years ago.

Along with the new release, MBDC announced that it has licensed version 3.0 of the C2C Certified Product Standard to the C2CPII, and transferred governance of the standard to the Certification Standards Board. As a result, C2C is now a third-party standard. MBDC, Washington, D.C.–based ToxServices, and the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency, based in Germany and founded by MBDC cofounder Michael Braungart, are accredited assessment bodies for certifying the products.

At the press conference, C2CPII in partnership with Make It Right also kicked off its Product Innovation Challenge. The competition requires companies to rethink everyday building materials and to develop a product for the affordable housing market that does the following: meets C2C Certified Program criteria, respects human health, benefits the environment, and can be reused continuously. “Inventing a safe and healthy alternative is what it’s about,” Luther said.

The challenge will award the first-, second-, and third-place winners $125,000, $75,000, and $50,000, respectively. Entries are due June 30, 2013. The winners will be announced at Greenbuild 2013 in Philadelphia.