When we want to know how sustainable any specific product really is, manufacturers, designers and specifiers, have generally relied on obvious, easy to measure things. Unfortunately we are learning life isn’t that simple.

Our approaches in the past have been haphazard at best. We have used a grab bag of indicators we thought represented the most important issues and suited measurement, such as energy and water efficiency, waste, recycling, certification of timber, rapidly renewable, recycled or certified content, and so on. However, without…