At an event at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, architect and designer William McDonough, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and representatives from Shaw Industries Group officially launched the Green Products Innovation Institute (GPII). The nonprofit institute is dedicated to transforming the way companies design and manufacture products by advancing the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) framework developed by McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart.

Using the C2C certification protocol, the GPII aims to work with leaders from academia, nongovernmental organizations, the government and the design industry to establish a rating system for evaluating products. Products meeting the criteria of this to-be-developed rating system will receive C2C certification. With the creation of the GPII, the institute will now be responsible for certifying products in the United States under C2C protocols.

C2C criteria assess products in five areas: material health, take-back, renewable energy, clean water, and social fairness. To help companies meet the certification, the GPII plans to train and certify licensed assessors. Companies seeking certification will submit their assessments to the GPII for auditing and, if certification is awarded, the institute will also then work with the company to share information about the chemistry of its materials in an accessible database.

The GPII is intended to support California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, which calls for the elimination of toxic substances from materials and manufacturing processes for all products sold in California.

The GPII is being funded by an initial grant from the DOEN Foundation, which seeks to support pioneers making a positive contribution to decrease the effects of human behavior on climate change. An additional grant has been promised by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, which focuses on the environment, historic preservation, and migrations.

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