GBE PASS Services
GBE PASS Services is a version of GBE PASS in this case it is specifically for Mechanical, Electrical and Public Health Services.
GBE PASS and PASS Serve are a counterbalance to Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) that is promoted by EU as the only way to judge how ‘Green’ things are.
GBE PASS Serve is part of GBE Code, it is a new scheme, related to and a variation of GBE PASS. it informs the content of GBE Product Pages, all products on GBE will pass GBE PASS Serve or Civ if assessed or have done so. NGS has been in existence since 2001 but GBE PASS was introduced much more recently. GBE initially judged materials, before LCA had established itself, on a less formal system with 57 criteria.
In reality LCA results tell you the environmental impact of producing a product or material in numbers against values. The higher the numbers the greater the impacts. The lower the numbers the smaller the impacts. In GBE Jargon, the lower the number the ‘Greener’, the higher the number the more ‘Violet’ it is.
LCA has been promoted by manufacturers of high impact ‘violet’ materials as a means to judge products in preference to any Green Labels which they put down as lacking rigour and meaningless. They also argue that LCAs should never be compared, in which case they have no purpose and are meaningless in the design and specification world.
You can compare the LCAs of two things, (to find the least Violet) but only if they are from an exactly identical LCA processes.
Most older LCA processes were different and not very often comparable, and most of them should be ignored today as being unhelpful and potentially misleading. The LCA methods today and the resulting LCA from them are closer and will get closer in the future, but will remain different for some time yet. The LCA processes usually consist of quantifying the impact of all making and processing of the ingredients and the manufacturing processes, packaging, waste and emissions.
LCA does not address indoor air quality and EPD fails to address toxicity of content, so it begs the question how LCA can be regarded as a measure of ‘Greenness’.
GBE PASS on the other hand considers the positive properties and positive contribution a material or product has to make in its application in a building, its performance or the improvement of performance of an adjacent material or product, its ability to reduce consumption of other resources over the life of the building. GreenSpecPASS currently considered 400 criteria (the list continually grows), predominantly positive and to ensure we do not ignore the negative aspects they are there too, including: Does it have an LCA?
GBE Compare has a summery document that highlights how a product is better or worse than the Average product in any function group.
Any Architect or Designer going about their normal duties does not need LCA to be part of that process, they can and doo select appropriate materials, products and methods of construction to suit the location, site, building and their application in elements, taking into account the aspirations of the clients brief and the designers own preferences to create something exhibiting ‘commodity, firmness and delight’. This process may be intuitive, methodical or even calculated, but will result in ‘appropriate competent sustainable construction’. The choices of materials and products may be all new to them or based on what they have done successfully before and developed with new requirements of a particular project.
If the client is an asthmatic family they may choose low allergy, low VOC, low off gassing, non-toxic materials; no fitted carpets and pollen filtering ventilation; if the client is a cold storage company they may highly insulate the buildings to reduce running costs, if they really understand materials, a high decrement delay material, or if a health spa then they may include water and heat saving technologies. If in the process they have adequately considered all the requirements, then the products they have shortlisted or chosen will be the right products, for the job, fit for purpose.
GBE call this process ‘Screening’ out of materials, products or system that are not appropriate generally and more specifically for the project. We use a traffic light system in the Screening process: green for good and red for bad occasionally a rainbow from green to violet when more detail is needed. ‘GBE PASS Product Accessory System Screening’ filters out inappropriate materials and products, and for a project and the few left after screening are appropriate. In this process all materials that are regarded by the specifier or their client or their brief to be unacceptable or undesirable are excluded, after screening the resulting products should be free of high impact materials and be dominated by healthy, resource saving, low impact materials or products. With such a small set of screened environmentally sound materials there is no need to carryout expensive LCA and less need to compare alternatives.
In the UK, the official ‘Greenness’ selection process comes in the form of BRE Green Guide to Specification which is based on LCA, but not of products but the average output of different manufacturing sectors, mostly making conventional material products and then bundled into elemental assemblies and rated F (bad) to A and A+ (good) like building EPC Energy Performance Certificates. Individual PVC window manufacturers using virgin PVC would not get better than a C rating if assessed individually but as an industry sector generic rating PVC is recycled into garden gnomes therefore PVC windows are A+ rated. Most architects would not specify PVC as an unsound environmental material choice, unreliable for ironmongery attachment, preferring more robust and competent products like aluminium and timber composite windows which get a worse C rating.
In contrast in the UK, Design and Build procurement we are lead to believe the constructor is also a capable designer and specifier and encouraged by CPD (Construction Products Directive) and UK authorities to trust them to use their expertise to do their job; but they are also in charge of the costs and these two priorities are potentially in conflict. Design and Build is usually adopted to let the contractor reduce costs, in reality they reduce costs to increase profit margins at the expense of the quality of the material and product choices and consequently the resulting building. Strong specification and strong contract administration is needed to avoid the worst excesses of specification reduction and substitution or value engineering (posh for cost cutting) that will occur. BRE Green Guide to Specification tells the D&B Specifier that PVC windows are A+ rated; they will choose the best LCA and the lowest price ignoring all other performance criteria and result in a high risk short-life window which in the opinion of most if not all greenies is the worse environmental choice.
© GBE NGS ASWS BrianSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
11th December 2012 – 26th December 2015
GBE PASS Services
GBE PASS Assessments
- PASS R10 Lindab Rainline N#1094
- PASS U10 VentiveS N#990
GBE Jargon Buster
- BRE Green Guide to Specification
- EPD Environmental Product Declaration
- LCA Life Cycle Analysis
- GBE PASS
- GBE LCA See Also
GBE Product Page
© GBE NGS ASWS BrianSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
28th January 2013 – 30th December 2016